Friday, February 2, 2007

Who are You Wearing?


You know the whole “Red Carpet” part of the Oscars—that odd parade into the theatre, before the awards show even begins, when actors preen and spin for the cameras, and reporters (is that what they are?) shout “Who are you wearing?” The question itself would have Freud raising an eyebrow. And the stars smugly say, “Oh, Valentino,” or “This old thing? This is a Badgely-Mischka hand beaded gown with over 100,000 Austrian glass beads.” And we are meant to say, “Oooohhh.”

I was thinking about that the other day as I pondered my wardrobe options for Love is Murder, the big mystery conference in Chicagoland this weekend. And I blogged about it a couple days ago on Mysterious Musings, and now I’m going to talk about it again. There’s been some debate on MMA about how professional a writer should look, and whether or not one’s clothing has an effect on one’s reputation, and even one’s sales.

I always make an effort to look respectable, but I’m at an age at which I simply can’t see the value of dresses or panty hose; therefore, my wardrobe options are reduced to a category I call “elegant pants.” There are many subcategories here: there are the trousers that would be termed “extremely elegant”—silky pantsuits worn to weddings, perhaps. They might even be embellished with sequins or embroidery. Next in line would be the “businesslike pants.” Suits with matching pants and jackets, or even the mix and match look, would fit this category, and for me it’s the perfect attire for a conference. It’s easy to sit through many a panel without becoming too wrinkled, yet one stands out from the fans who might be wearing jeans or sweats. The final category, “Casual yet elegant” pants, can still apply, but one might have to disguise a comfortable pair of knit slacks with a striking and distracting blazer.

So while the starlets are now contemplating their twenty-thousand dollar gowns for the upcoming Academy Awards, I am being very practical and asking what will be the most comfortable (yet attractive) attire. After all, they’ll be parading down the red carpet, holding in their stomachs and resigning themselves to no dinner so that they don’t ruin the line of their expensive dresses. I, on the other hand, will be marching through the parking lot all by myself, and no one will chase me with a microphone yelling “What sort of pants are you wearing? Are those from J. C. Penney?”

Instead, I will sling my bag—with my books, my event schedule, my Mapquest map to help me find my way home, my banana and power bar, my glasses in case my contacts start getting dry—and I shall enter my own professional arena with all the glamour of an author.

(image: www.homies.org)

14 comments:

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I have a variety of black pants that I wear for most of the year, from silky to leggings, with neutral light ones for summer,that make my legs covered but invisible. For me, the art of dressing is in the top: sweater with great jewelry, turtleneck with interesting jacket or vest, tunic or flowing duster with great jewelry, blouse with bling bling. But I put all that aside on two occasions every year, thanks to Mystery Writers of America: the Edgars banquet (I'm so lucky to live in New York!) and the MWA holiday party. The invitations to both of these say: "Dress to Kill."
Then I go for a long skirt or glitter dress with great jewelry and lots of bling bling.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Forgot to say, if any reader doesn't know, that the Edgars are mystery writing's Oscars!

Julia Buckley said...

I don't think I have bling.

But I'm with you on the black pants.

Carol said...

I always accessorize with cat hair.

It's everywhere -- floating merrily in the air, craftily hiding inside the dry cleaners plastic bag where it escapes with the first whoosh of air. No matter how hard I brush or how demonically I wield Scotch Tape, part of Spenser and Taco will always be with me. We're hoping to make it to the Edgars next year.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Carol, I don't know if you've been to the Edgars before, but a hot tip I wish I'd known the first time I went: you can amortize the hefty admission fee for the awards banquet by loading up on the free books, which usually include just about all the nominees, among others.

Deb Baker said...

Carol, I understand the hair thing. I have two cats and two sheddy dogs so I carry part of them with me everywhere. I'm a dress down woman. I wear sweats to write and have been seen around town without makeup (gasp). It doesn't seem so important anymore. I can't wait to see you again, Julia

Carol said...

Haven't been to the Edgars yet, Liz. It's the conference I most want to go to, though.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Carol, I can't access your profile to see who you are. Are you a Guppy? Guppies usually lunch together at the Edgars Symposium (the conference the day before the awards banquet). Liz

Carol said...

Yep, Liz, I'm a Guppy (Carol Baier). Where are we supposed to do the profile? I just typed in Carol when I registered, assuming my full name would pop up, as in a listserv post. If there was a place to do a profile, I missed it. The only jpeg I have is one of me in an Oscar sweatshirt (perfect for Julia's topic!) If you can tell me how to do the profile, I'll include my photo.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Ohhhh, Carol, of course I know you! I remember you got short-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger. :)
To elect showing your full name, adding a photo, etc., try going to the Dashboard page and clicking on Edit Profile on the right. Hope you make it to the Edgars this year.

Carol said...

Liz, where is this mysterious Dashboard page? (there's a reason I refer to myself as a cyber dunce.)

Actually, I was short-listed for the Dagger on the first round and later declared the runner-up. Now if I could just finish the rewrite...

Lonnie Cruse said...

Julia,

Having met you at LIM (which I hope to blog about on Monday,) I can truly say you looked terrific and very professional. I enjoyed meeting you and sharing a panel with you. Most everyone at the conference wore slacks and looked professional.

I'm happy to say Mary Welk was extremely impressed that my socks matched the scarf I'd put around the neck of my jacket. It's all in the accessories. Snicker.

Julia Buckley said...

Lonnie, you're one of the few people I've met who look good in pink--in fact, you made pink a power color. As my next blog post will reveal (as well as the fact that my head looks twice as big as yours).

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Just in case anyone's checking back for additional comments on what Blogger calls an "older post," the Edgars took a mysterious turn yesterday when the invitation to the awards banquet failed to say "dress to kill" as usual. Instead, the theme is "black and white and read all over," the correct attire being "black tie with a touch of red." Gotta go replenish my wardrobe again.