What an author wears at a public appearance can help or harm her chances of being remembered. Many will dress in a way to show off their work and catch the eye of those who attend. One author always wears purple. Another dresses as her two protagonists, one on each side. While I thought the woman dressed as her two protagonists looked silly, I have remembered her for almost 20 years.
On Saturday I am going to an author extravaganza at one of the local shopping malls. For once an event that is likely to have actual readers looking at my work. So I have my books together, and some decoration for my table, perhaps a quill pen or a drop spindle.
I have a pile of brochures for the sites that are the inspirations for setting and character. My big question is what do I wear?
I have never been a very classy dresser. Since I retired from my day job, my attire consists of jeans and a tee-shirt. My favorite shirts represent things I have done or places I have been or organizations I belong to. I have a bright red Sisters in Crime shirt, a Dominique chicken shirt, a bunch from various horse events. When I am working at one of the sites, I wear jeans and a proper shirt, Greenbank tee-shirts or Newlin Grist Mill staff polo shirts, or period clothing.
I own a couple of dresses still, and two decent pair of trousers. Nothing matches. When my first book was published I bought a black knit dress that could be worn with any of my jackets and blazers. My author’s little black dress. ALBD for short.
At my first book event, the man at the table next to me was in the Civil War uniform of a Union sergeant. Everyone stopped to talk to him. I don’t know how many books he sold, but he sure drew the crowd’s attention. My ALBD attracted no attention.
Taking a tip from him, I dress in period clothing when ever I can. I can dress to illustrate most of the periods I write, Colonial, New Republic, Civil War and Victorian. If I dress in period clothing I stand in front of the table and greet people as they come by. Often I will have something on my table for them to do, write with a quill pen, try to spin a bit of wool, anything to get their hands busy and their minds working. I am happy to talk about what I am wearing and why.
Tomorrow I will be sitting behind a table with no way out, so period clothing has less impact.
This is what I will be wearing: dressy teal tee-top with narrow lace at the neck edge, off white trousers and my ink pot and pen lovelier. Period clothing next time.