Monday, June 16, 2014

Who Knew Summer was Fashion Frenzy for Authors? by Melinda Curtis

Summer is here. For many, that means the kids are out of school and vacations are waiting to be planned. It means something a little different for romance authors. It's conference season. Actually, conference season starts in May with the Romantic Times convention, then the Book Expo (last weekend), and finally the Romance Writer's of America conference in July.

Why does this matter? Because most writers sit in their kitchens, at Starbucks, or in their offices and wear comfy clothes. You know the ones I mean - elastic waistband, comfy cotton, fuzzy socks. But conference season creates a whole new level of angst. There are meetings with editors and agents.  Book signings with readers (who think being a writer is glamorous). Breakfasts with writer friends you don't see until conference. Parties hosted in swank hotel rooms by your publisher. And the most dreaded night of all - Awards Night. You think actors get ulcers during award season? Try holding the hand of a writer friend in the hush before they make that big announcement: And the RITA goes to...

And so, we shop. And some sweet store clerk talks us into buying something that flashes some cleavage, bares those arms, exposes those legs. We wonder when we got such cleavage, arm jiggle, and/or cankles. We try on shoes. We wonder if the comfy ones make us look like old ladies. We try on cocktail dresses and formal gowns. We wonder if we look like prom queens in a time warp. It's enough to drive a romance writer insane (and to make severe fashion mistakes).

The conference season after I sold my first book, I picked out a bright red formal gown to wear to the RITA awards. It was sleeveless and I was frozen. Then I bought a beautiful white dress online one year to wear to the Harlequin party, but didn't have time to try it on before I left for conference. The night of party, I discovered the white dress was sheer. Uhm, no. I didn't wear it anywhere. Ever.

I could go on. I haven't even started on hairstyles/color...

So, all you dear authors, please share what prep you've done this year or in years past for conference season. Go on, give us the scoop. And readers, please share any similar fashion frenzy you've been in (perhaps you were the mother of the groom?).

30 comments:

  1. This year, I went to the Spring Fling in Chicago in April. So I got all the new-clothes angst (WHAT size?) out of the way early and borrowed shamelessly. Even though I won't be going to any more conferences this year, I am set for summer. As a result of my conference wardrobe, I've even worn more than one pair of capris to church, as opposed to the one pair of black dress pants that gets me all the way through winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shaking my head that you're so smart and I'm not, Liz. Good for you

      Delete
  2. As a consummate over-packer, I ALWAYS end up bringing way more than I need and this year (because I"m NOT a finalist, LOL)--no evening gown--yay!! Those dresses take up way too much space in the suitcase . Carry on luggage only for me from now on which means outfits that combine and only 2 pairs of shoes. Hello Crocs. At least that's the plan. If only I could wear my "uniform" of torn t-shirts and yoga pants. Would make life so much easier. Thanks, Mel! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As your traveling companion to conference this year, I'm checking a bag - something I rarely do. Please feel free to do so.

      Delete
  3. If I looked like your photo inset there would be no problem. Sigh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roz, too funny! I was going to ask Melinda how she got that photo of me! LOL.

      Delete
    2. Carol, I stalked your FB page! You rock that yellow!

      Delete
  4. This year, I didn't buy any knew dresses. I think I'm wearing a black dress to the ball and some stretchy type dresses to the conference... I want to look good- but the food in my cabinets is looking better! Argh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a skirt and blouse girl, but I did buy a pair of comfy capris this year (like Liz). My dilemma is always shoes...although you couldn't tell from my post about dresses

      Delete
  5. Yeah, Mel! What are YOU complaining about! I'd love to have the problem you describe because that would mean I was going! Ah, well. Think of me on my porch in my comfy jeans, my ratty T-shirt, and my tennies with the logger-boot soles (So I don't fall and break anything else!) drinking tea and waiting to hear that you've all had a wonderful time. Seriously - do have a ball. Wish I could be there to meet you all! You've added such a wonderful new dimension to my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Muriel, I can confess here that after the kids were all driving themselves to school, I often wrote in my jamies, rushing to shower before they came home. Once my oldest went to college and was around the house during the day I was too embarrassed to continue the habit. Rattie shirts live on!

      Delete
  6. This is my first nationals, so I'll admit to being stressed about what to wear a bit. My normal wardrobe sounds similar to Anna's t-shirts and sweats. And I hate shopping! So mostly I've just tried not to think about it. As for shoes...I only wear comfortable ones so I'm wondering if I could just bedazzle my tennies with some gems and sequins and maybe no one would notice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, I gave up high heels at conference years and years ago. I have a fondness now for flats and slides. I blamed my husband for my lack of high fashion. He always told the kids to "Hurry and walk with a purpose!" Kills the feet in heels.

      Delete
  7. I find dresses in my closet that I haven't worn for a while...or hope no one recognizes the dress I wore last year. LOL. This year I splurged on one new dress, but got a killer deal and can wear it elsewhere during the summer. The pressure we put on ourselves to impress! No wonder most of us like working at home in comfy clothes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet we wouldn't recognize each other without our conference clothes on - ha!

      Delete
  8. I was also at Spring Fling this year and wore a dress that's at least 7 years old. Going through my closet I realized I have lots of work appropriate dressy clothes but not much on the more formal side of things. If I go back to Nationals next year I'm definitely buying a new dress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm all for a classic skirt that I can update with a new blouse - makes me feel like I have a new outfit.

      Delete
  9. Funny timing of this post as my new 'RWA Conference' shoes arrived last week that I searched for hours for online. Last year my shoes were conversation starters and therefore I made a lot of new friends, so I decided to try that approach again lol. Anyway, said shoes are painful and impossible to walk in-but soooo cute that I'll probably wear them anyway lol. As for clothes-I hadn't really stressed over that yet lol. I guess my to-do list for today just changed:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am seriously considering hanging cute shoes from my conference bag. How's that for a conversation starter?

      Delete
    2. Seriously Mel, I talked more about my shoes last year than I did about books lol:)

      Delete
  11. I wish I had this problem! Lucky all of you who've been or are going to Nationals! Hopefully I'll be going next year. If so, I'll try my darndest to find something that will make me look younger, hipper, and thinner, and be flashy enough to make me stand out from all those other writers. Like you said, it will be a vast change from my usual fleece and comfy slippers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's where the angst comes in Cathy! Hope to see you there next year.

      Delete
  12. Hey, Mel! Yep! I do the whole stressing routine. Even for local conferences and work shops. I've bought blouses and slacks and scarfs that I've never wore, instead wearing something nice but comfy and not new! I did buy new heels very fashionable for the last Rose City Romance Writers conference and suffered with blisters for three days. When I got home, my old jeans, sweaters and tennis shoes never looked so good!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Diana! You're feet have to last you a lifetime! Don't do that again!

      Delete
  13. Mel, this cracked me up! This whole post is so me. And I hate shopping. Nothing fits right! I haven't even had time to hit a store yet for Nationals, so we'll see...

    ReplyDelete
  14. We have to pack clothes for conferences? You mean, we can't bring empty suitcases to bring home a bunch of books???? Now I have angst. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  15. My first RWA was two years ago. For some reason I didn't realize that I had acquired "writers' butt" in the decade since I wore any formal wear and never though to try the dresses on. After a painful episode at the Irvine Chico's which I later described in a blog post called DEATH BY SPANX, I broke down and bought a new little black dresses that wasn't so little anymore! You all have fun and hope to see you in New York in 2015.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Please tell me I don't have to have a ball gown for this thing!! I am like Anna - trying to get by with a carry on only. I hope I pass the dress code. Luckily I just bought a bunch of things for a trip to NYC :)

    ReplyDelete

  17. I'm wearing black. In San Francisco, I wore peach. People took pictures and everyone was wearing black but me. I don't mind standing out, but not in every picture. Black is the new Peach!

    ReplyDelete