Women writers can be eccenstic about their clothes. One author in my hometown wears hats to stand out from the crowd. I don’t wear hats and, after 30+ years of writing, established my own dress code. If you were to summarize the code in two words would be conservative and comfortable.
Conservative does not have to be dull, and I perk up outfits with colorful scarves and jewelry. Where I speak also influences my clothing choices. Years ago, I spoke at the Minneapolis Women’s Expo. I wore red — the power color — and it helped to distinguish me from the other speakers.
“Women’s Clothing and Looking Professional,” an article on the Womens Clothing website, says your clothing choices affect how people perceive you. “Appearing professional is about establishing a classy and conservative image that works across all ages,” the article explains. Though suits are still professional, women in the work place are dressing more casually today.
You may be preparing for a book talk. What should you wear? The answer depends on the size of the group, location of your talk, and how you want to be remembered. These points may also help you.
1. Wear clothes that fit right. Avoid skin-tight slacks and skirts and tops that are too revealing. Many women are wearing skirts that are inches above the knee and I have seen too many thighs on television. I rarely wear skirts and when I do, they are knee-length. Remember, a short skirt rides up when you sit down.
2. Think about color psychology. Recently I spoke to a group of church librarians. When I first dressed I put on a purple sweater. Then I remembered that purple is a symbol of mourning. Though I was speaking about grief resources, I wanted people to leave in an upbeat mood, so I changed into a turquoise sweater.
3. Take care of repairs. A ripped hem, loose button, and pantyhose riddled with runs sends the message that you don’t care about your appearance. Decide what you are going to wear. Look the garments over carefully and make any necessary repairs.
4. Dress for the audience. When I speak to volunteer groups I dress casually. Casual clothing is a better match for this audience and seems to prompt more questions. When I do dress up, I wear a black pencil skirt or slacks, and accessorize them with jackets and sweaters.
5. Accessorize carefully. Kashmira Lad discusses jewelry in her Internet article, “Women’s Classic Professional Clothing.” According to Lad, women in the work place should wear simple, elegant jewelry and “save the bling jewelry for Fridays.” Lad thinks a stylish watch can be an interesting accessory. Choose a scarf with colors that compliment your face.
Above all, I think women writers should dress for comfort. This includes comfortable shoes and a practical handbag. “The right bag helps in boosting your image,” Lad explains, and she recommends the classic colors of black and brown. Whether you wear slacks or a skirt, dressing professionally shows you care about your work and your audience. You’re off to a good start!
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson