Who knew there was a dress code?
An essay that’s making the rounds of various mystery folk, and justifiably provoking some ire, was penned by Karen L. Syed (who self-publishes her books at Echelon Press.) Why are people annoyed? Because she essentially dictates that writers should conform to a dress code — at all times:
As an author, you have established yourself as a business person with an important product to sell. Make it believable. Good rule of thumb is business casual. Nice pants and shirt for the men (no slogan T-shirts or tank tops). If you have to wear sneakers, make certain they’re clean and not full of holes. I’d lean toward collared shirts with Khaki or Docker type pants with “Big Boy” [read: mature] shoes. For women, I’d say the same. You can substitute a sweater or nice tunic top, but not with jeans. A casual skirt or business pant suit would be best, but that’s not always an option for everyone. I hate high heels, but a good pair of pumps goes a long way toward a solid image.
It gets better, as Syed advocates that authors should always be dressed for success, even at the grocery store:
You don’t stop being an author just because your family needs to eat. And honestly, you should be talking about your book everywhere. Doctor’s office? Oh yeah! You have a captive audience. Look nice when you’re passing out bookmarks and business cards to all those people who can’t walk away. What about conferences? This is most important. You attend conferences to either sell your published books, or to get your works published. If you’re not published you especially need to show what you’re made of. As a publisher, I’m least likely to pick up an author who couldn’t be bothered with some kind of professional attire. First impressions are everything in our business. If you have to sell yourself first, that means you have to work twice as hard to sell your product.
Now, I’m the first person to advocate professionalism and at least adopting a basic sense of hygiene (and I like to get dressed up when the occasion warrants) but frankly, WTF? This strikes me as smacking of Hall Monitor Syndrome, and I thought I got over that in grade school. It doesn’t do to look like you haven’t been inside a shower stall for at least a week, but there are certain folk who if I tried to imagine them in even business casual would make me giggle madly. And I doubt their sales are suffering for that.