Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dressing the part

As a writer, I tend to live in jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, and vintage beaded sweaters. I do own some nice things, mostly from years ago when I had to dress coherently for my job as a writer for a video club (Bruce is back and better than ever in this high-octane thriller!) but I tend to save those for weddings or parties or....readings.

I'm thrilled that I'm going to be at BEA signing books for Pictures of You and that I will also be giving a talk, but that means....I need something to wear. I have to look like a writer, whatever that means, but I also have to feel comfortable and confidant, and I want to have some sense of my own style in there, too.

So off I trundled to Saks but every dress I looked at was $350-$500 and I stared at one price tag so long, the saleswoman came over and assured me that that particular dress (the $500 one) would last forever and always be in style and I could be 98-years-old and still look cool. I roamed the city, into Anthropologie where everything was too tight or too big or too expensive, then roamed to Eileen Fisher, where everything looked like a potato sack on me (unless it was too tight or too expensive) and then found my way to Macy's where I found a DKNY fitted little black and white dress on uber-sale for $65.

But the thing that got me is as I was paying for it, the saleswoman stared at me and barked, "Where are you going to wear this dress?" I was so startled (did it matter? Would she not sell me the dress if I said I was going to wear it to load the dishwasher?) that I said well, I was speaking at this event. My voice was trailing off and then she peered at me again, as if she were deciding something. She gave me a big smile and said, "You're a writer. I can always tell."

How thrilling! It made me wonder, is there a way writers look? Are we recognizable by our ink stains or our intense expressions or the way an everyday thing like buying a dress becomes a story?

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