The Importance of Proper Dress (Important for Writers)

OK, Gentle Reader, today I am going to climb on to my soap box and blog about something evil, something so base and vile, that you may wish to stop reading right this very moment.

I may offend you horribly.

I’m not holding back.

This is something I believe in, possibly more than anything else. So I am going to take the plunge.

I am going to address the rank underbelly of my beloved genre community (no, not literally). I am going to do it because I feel someone has to take a stand. This is a highly embarrassing topic that everyone seems afraid to broach. Well, I have the courage. Someone must be strong, and I am that person.

Yes, Gentle Reader, we are going to talk about . . .

Appropriate Dress

Let me start this off by listing some inappropriate dress for a convention, mixer, signing, etc.

  • Sweat pants
  • Shorts
  • Track pants/gym clothing
  • T-shirts with offensive slogans
  • PJs or anything that looks like PJs (for The Love, people!)
  • Any article of clothing that has a hole that is not an arm hole, a leg hole, or a head hole
  • Similarly, anything that is fraying, pilling, or warn through
  • Anything that sports a food stain
  • An untended beard
  • Unwashed hair

I don’t care how alternative you think you are. How much a slacker. What counter-culture you believe you represent. You are none of these things.

You are a slob.

You are disrespecting the authors and presenters (if you’re a fan) and the fans (if you’re an author), not to mention all the other important individuals who have arranged for and attended the event (con organizers, editors, agents, producers, actors, bookstore managers). Most importantly, you are shaming yourself and the writing industry as a whole.

Yes you are. Suck. It. Up.

If you aren’t suitable to be seen in public, then you shouldn’t be in public. Go back, take a shower, take a nap, put on clean respectable clothing.

What sparked this rant, Ms. Carriger?

You might well ask. I was watching a (unnamed, to protect the guilty) video blog of some SF/F convention footage, featuring, I am sad to say, mainly authors. And I was ashamed.

Ashamed, I tell you.

Let me explain something. Style is not hard. No matter what your shape or income level. All it takes is a tiny bit of time and effort. You can make it hard. I, for example, like a challenge.

So do the Goths and the steampunkers out there.

But it really doesn’t have to be difficult.

And, as the person who spots the problem (namely, me) is responsible for its solution, here are some…

Tips to Find Your Style

  • Look around and ID someone who’s about your shape and whose style you like.
    At a convention, in particular, this can work well because people are disposed to be friendly. Go up to them and ask politely where they shop, and how they put together their look. People, in general, love to talk about themselves and will be delighted to tell you.
  • Invest in a few good pieces that you can pull out for public appearances in particular.
    Masculine preference?
    A nice pair of jeans or slacks, some basic black t-shirts, perhaps a sports jacket or a tailored blazer.
    Feminine preference?
    Never discount the inherent joy in one really nice day dress.
    It is far more important to spend money on basics than on the tux or the uber-fancy gown that you maybe wear once a year.
  • You can do quirky, but try to confine it to accessories: hats, watches, jewelry, belts, belt buckles, and the like. Trust me, the people who do head-to-toe quirky put a lot of effort into it, you might want to ease in slowly.
  • You have two choices: you can fit in, or you can stand out. You don’t want to fall to the wayside. If you are wearing inappropriate dress you will be dismissed. We are a superficial culture. Most cultures are. There is no point in fighting this one; 34,000 years of clothing evolution is not something you can muscle down with one pair of ratty sweatpants. Besides, you and I both know the truth of it. You’re just being lazy.
  • At a SF/F convention, to fit in, you wear jeans or BTUs, boots or sneakers, and a t-shirt with a nice graphic logo. This is very boring, but so long as it’s clean, at least you don’t look like a homeless person. Cheap corsets and old leather jackets are also known to make all-to-frequent appearances.
  • At a convention, to stand out, you can do any or all of the following: go Goth, go vintage, wear a suit, were a nice jacket over your jeans and t-shirt, actually investigate the current trends an go fashionable (this one is hard), go hippy-dippy, go frat/sorority, and/or wear color (there’s an awful lot of black), or cosplay.
  • Hack your look! Include one interesting piece around the face area: hat, necklace, tie, vintage earrings makes for a talking point. We are all a little awkward meeting for the first time, make small talk easy on yourself and others by giving them something to comment on and ask about. Accessories are weapons of social interaction. Just ask my teapot purse…

Right. So. There it is. Read it and shop!

Yours in high fashion,

Miss Gail

As aways you don’t have to take my word for it (although in this instance you SHOULD).

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Tisane of Smart:
Modern Manners Guy on dressing up.
And using fashion to hack identity.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Amusing blog on what (not) to wear to a romance writers convention.

Quote of the Day:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

~ Oscar Wilde


Posted by Gail Carriger

 Comments are closed


  1. Jessica Kennedy said:

    I couldn't agree more!

    Sure, I lounge in sweat pants at home but I switch to jeans anytime I'm headed out to public. 🙂

    And if it's an event, one being recorded, then get some decent clothes on! Geesh!

  2. Moonsanity said:

    Note to self: start looking for a steampunk outfit to pull out for book signings and conventions. Burn sweatpants. *snicker*

  3. Dylan A. Kent said:

    Having come from a Prep School background I cannot tell you how horrified I was (and still am) when I first encountered someone wearing their pajamas in a store. I am even more horrified when that person in lounge pants is a grown man.

    Unless you are camping, jogging or sleeping, these clothes are inappropriate for 99% of all human interactions.

  4. TEA TRAMP said:

    #1 – I no longer own sweatpants. I do have a few sweatshirts for the 2-3 weeks of "winter" in SoCal.

    #2 – the ONLY time you will catch me in "PJs" in public, is at "PJ Breakfast" at a specific type of event/con I sometimes attend. It's a "costume themed event", if you will, and always in GOOD TASTE.

  5. Steve Frankel said:

    While I personally enjoy dressing in my steampunk finery, I must differ with you on graphic teeshirts. I have seen many at cons that are clever and fun. Someone who enjoys the con and makes the effort to find an appropriate tee is certainly welcome in my opinion. As to standards of public appearance being met, I heartily agree.

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