I have never known of a publisher or agent who was looking for a writer with a great power suit. Dress in the business world is important, but in the writing world, not so much. Good writing will always trump a good wardrobe. But it is good to show you can be professional and can convey a put together image. Here’s some tips for what to wear and what not to wear at a writer’s conference if you’re a woman writer.
Business Casual: The mode of dress for most writer’s conferences is business casual. Business casual usually means a pair of dress slacks or slightly flared skirt, a nice shirt or blouse, and a blazer or jacket. If you’re under thirty years old, blue jeans can sometimes be considered business casual but only if they’re dress jeans dressed up with a nice suit jacket. Dress slacks or a skirt are usually a better way to go.
Fitted: When shopping for dress slacks or a jacket, make sure to get the fit right. If you’re not sure of the right fit for your body type, go to an expensive clothing store with a friend who dresses well. Spend the day trying on clothes you might not normally wear. Ask the store clerk lots of questions. Then take what you’ve learned to the discount clothing store or the sales rack to find the right items.
Shoes: Choose a nice pair of shoes to go with your outfits at the conference, but make sure they’re comfortable. If you’re not use to high heels, toppling into an agent’s lap because your heels are too high is not the way to make a good pitch. Also you’ll do a lot of walking between sessions. If the pitch is at the end of the day, you won’t make a good impression if your feet hurt.
Color: Writers are creative. Use that creativity by adding a splash of color to your wardrobe.
Jewelry: Jewelry is a great way to complete an outfit, but you don’t want to overdo it with too much. If you are wearing a simpler outfit, loud colorful jewelry can accent it beautifully. But if your outfit has a lot of flair, stick with a couple of simple pieces of jewelry.
Tattoos, Piercings, Etc.: This can be a tricky subject. If you’re planning to make a splash in the horror market or pitch your latest young adult novel, tattoos and piercings might be the way to go. But if your novel is a prairie romance, you might want to use make-up and clothing to cover the tattoos and take out the piercings.
Make-up: If you’re unsure of how to apply make-up properly, have a Mary Kay party or have a make-over at a make-up counter at the mall. Make-up can enhance your looks, but don’t wear too much unless you’re going for the gothic horror feel.
Banquet: Most larger writer’s conferences end with a banquet that they advertise as formal. If you don’t have a formal outfit, any dressy outfit will do. But if you do have a formal, go ahead and wear it. How often do you get a chance to dress up? Go for it.