Monday, September 14, 2009

The Writers' Uniform

While on Facebook I was bemoaning how hard it is to find a pair of jeans and Tish Cohen told me that for a long while she wore just pajama bottoms and a t-shirt when she worked, until people who came to the door began saying things like, "Well, obviously you don't work." The conversation took a clear turn from jeans to writer's clothing and she then told me that the writer Patry Francis went out and bought a nurse's uniform, so that when she went outside it would send a clear signal: nurse. worker. She wouldn't have to explain that she was a writer, that yes, that was a job, and yes, she worked hard, and no, just because she worked at home, she didn't break to watch daytime TV for hours on end.

That nurse's uniform tickles me! While I have been known to work in my pajamas, my writer's uniform is pretty simple: jeans, black t-shirt or shirt, sneakers and complicated earrings. Jeff's is pretty much the same uniform except for the earrings and he wears colors. We both have offices on the top floor, which we did deliberately. We have to go to work, we have to get there--and even though the commute is just one flight of stairs, well, it still really feels different on that floor. We shower, dress, get to work. The Fed Ex and UPS guys all know I'm a writer because of the book packages they keep bringing, plus I like to chat when I see them. When I lived in Pittsburgh, and was young, unhappily first-married and foolish, I actually had t-shirts made up with the word WRITER festooned across them, but people still didn't really know what I did--and if they did, no one seemed to think it was really as hard or as important as their work, because hey, I worked at home. I got to wear jeans.

Living in the NYC area is a bit different than Pittsburgh for a whole host of reasons, but mostly because there are so many writers here. So many of us in jeans, pajamas, or who knows, a feathered boa or six.


Gina Sorell said...

I love the writers uniform. I set one every year, and alter it only slightly, always keeping in mind what will be comfortable to sit in for hours at a time, and what can I leave the house in if I need to.

This year it has been loose fitting Cargo's that I got on sale at J. Crew in three different colors, and long loose v-neck t-shirts, and a long sleeved cardigan nearby. I put my hair up, wear a little make-up and walk down the hall, no stairs, to my office.

I'm going to work...I just get to have my dog on my lap :)

Elspeth Futcher said...

Smart idea to have your office on a different floor. The nurse's uniform made me giggle. I'd never wear one, but it certainly makes the point.


Clea Simon said...

Im still in my bathrobe, but it's noon so time to change to T-shirt and shorts.

Jessica Brilliant Keener said...

I adore the story about Patry Francis dressing in a nurse's uniform. What aplomb!

Caroline Leavitt said...

She just told me she was looking for uniforms in color now...with clogs. I love it.