For Stephen King, it’s a pair of distinctive, wire-framed glasses. For Tom Wolfe, it’s a white suit. For Truman Capote, it was a fedora. For Ernest Hemingway, it was a turtleneck and a glass of whiskey. For Mark Twain, it was also a white suit. (Writers really like those white suits.)
This begs the question – how should a writer dress? In a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches? A black dress and heels? Or jeans and a t-shirt? What accessories should complete the look?
Since this is a lifestyle blog, and since I’m a writer myself, here are ten things I recommend if you want to dress like a writer:
1. Wear glasses. Wearing glasses denotes intelligence and indicates you’re a deep thinker. Even if you’re not a writer, people will THINK you are. Which is almost as good as being a writer (and it involves a lot less work).
2. Wear the proper expression. Look pensive. Stare into the middle distance with narrowed eyes and a distracted air. Pretend you’re pondering the monumental wall you’ve hit in Chapter 15, when really, you’re wondering if you should have your tuna sandwich on white or wheat. Or maybe you should have PB&J instead? Scowl occasionally.
3. Dress in shorts, a t-shirt with an unidentifiable stain on the sleeve (probably olive oil but could be Newman’s Own Caesar) and flip-flops in summer. In winter, wear jeans, a turtleneck (black is good, very writerly) and warm, fuzzy socks. Makeup is optional. (I’m sitting at my laptop all day. My laptop doesn’t care what I look like.)
4. Wear the right shoes when you venture out of the house. Converse are good. So are Keds. In summer, flip-flops are acceptable, or Topsiders (no socks, please). Birkenstocks are iffy. Absolutely NO Crocs. Ever. In winter, wear boots. Maybe fuzzy bunny slippers if you’re in the house.
5. Only dress up if you’re accepting the Man Booker prize or are meeting your agent or publisher for the first time for lunch in a tony restaurant. Otherwise, see #3.
6. Always have a pack of cigarettes, a cigar, or a pipe on hand. Even if you don’t smoke, look as if you do. Ditto booze. Keep a glass of whisky, a cocktail, or, at the very least, a beer nearby. Everyone knows that writers are alcoholic chain smokers with vision problems. Probably because of all that ‘pensively staring into the middle distance’ stuff we do.
7. Dress as though you didn’t give a thought to what you put on that morning. Because, for the most part, writers don’t care how they look when they’re writing. Comfort is all that matters. Can I type without dragging my sleeve through my coffee? That’s all I really need to know.
8. Make sure you have good socks. Writers do a lot of prowling around the house in their stocking feet, so good quality argyles are a must.
9. It’s perfectly acceptable for writers to wear yoga pants. Or jogging shorts. Or, for that matter, Strawberry Shortcake pyjama bottoms (don’t judge).
10. Jewellery should be minimal. A wristwatch. A ring. Nothing more.
Because let’s face it – us writers have more important things to do than worry about silly things like clothes…