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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Anti- What Not to Wear

This blog was originally scheduled for this past Tuesday (July 15), but had to be postponed.

Business cards, publicity folder, notes for agent/editor pitch…
These are all necessary items for any successful writer’s conference. But there’s one major thing not included on that list. And it’s a big one.

Your attire. Your wardrobe. Your threads.

Any worries about whether or not your closet has what it takes will be wiped away once you step inside the San Francisco Marriot for the RWA National Conference and take a glance at the variety of clothing styles.

Traditional business suit. Come on in and join the group.

Dress casual slacks, capris or skirt with a nice blouse. Welcome!

Trendy, hip haute couture. Entrévous.

Sweaty exercise clothes. Let me show you to the hotel gym, you never know who might be trudging away on the treadmill next to you, rocking to their I-pod.

Saturday evening’s Awards Ceremony will bring you much of the same. Casual church dresses intermixed with cocktail dresses sashaying by beaded, floor-length evening gowns.

Are you getting the gist of things? In a nutshell, dress to your comfort. Knowing that you will be mingling with a group of professional, creativity-driven, business-minded, fun-loving people.

I’ll warn you, most hotels and restaurants tend to be chilly. Better to have us cool, then sweating in our nice duds. I usually bring a sweater if I’m only wearing a blouse. If I’m sporting a jacket for the day, I make sure to have a shirt I’d feel comfortable wearing alone, in the event I find myself growing warm and decide to take off my jacket.

I don’t normally carry a purse around all day. I’ll pack one or two small ones for evening events, or in case I’m able to sneak away from the hotel to take in the San Francisco sights. But during the day, I utilize the welcome bag RWA provides upon registration/check-in. I do bring a small bag (makeup-bag size or a plain zip-lock) to carry a few personal items. Okay, so I’m a girly girl. I need my lip gloss or powder to freshen up during the day. I’ll drop in some minty gum as well to avoid embarrassing bad breath. You’ll probably also find a cereal bar or some nuts, something to perk up my stamina if I feel like I’m starting to fade mid-afternoon.

And then, we get to the biggies.


If you’re a Sex and the City fan, you know how important shoes are to a woman’s psyche. Well, some women anyway. And here’s the thing, sometimes I agree.

I search far and wide (okay, maybe only the stores at my local mall, I’m not that much of a shoe fiend, nor do my budget and time allow me to be, but that’s another story) for shoes that are comfortable, yet stylish. You will be on your feet a good portion of the day. Walking to presentations, waiting in line for the elevator, a special event or a signing, lugging your free books back up to your room, etc. I guarantee your feet will be sore by the end of the day, whether you’re in flats or heels. Once more, the idea is to dress to your comfort level. If you can hack the trendy Manolos, go for it! (And if you’re wearing Manolos, come find me so I can drool, okay?) If Lifestride pumps are more up your alley, I hear ya sister! If comfy flats match your outfit and make your feet send up a squeal of thanks, put those babies on!

Have you caught my drift yet?

At National you’ll find people wearing all sorts of different styles. Granted, very few will be in shorts and T-shirt (unless you’re at the gym or just coming in from touring the city). In general, the consensus is whatever you’re comfortable wearing when talking with your peers, professionals and those you admire within the publishing industry.

So, you’ve probably got just over a week before you leave for San Francisco. If you’re like me, you’ve started setting stuff aside little by little, adding to the pile as something new comes to mind. Or maybe you’re a last minute packer, confident tossing everything into the suitcase on your way out the door. Yikes, that makes me nervous just to type it. :-) Either way, I hope I’ve given you some reassurance that you don’t need to run out and buy a new wardrobe. Sorry, you can’t blame that new dress on me. But if you bought one, I’m sure you deserved it.

If you still have some questions, or want to add a thought or two, please chime in. The clock is ticking. Soon we’ll be walking through the Marriot doors, ready to soak in the best the romance industry has to offer!

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At 9:42 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

This is all so true, Diane, and great advice.

Due to the revisions/rewrite I will finish by July 29, I have no idea what I'm going to be wearing. If it weren't for eBay and the Chinese, I wouldn't have an outfit to sign books in. But I'm comforted by the fact that, as you say, the dress code is wide open. Whether I will fit in any of my clothes after a month of not getting up from the computer is a question for another day. Thursday, I think.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Eden Sharpe said...

Once again, a nice snapshot into what to expect at nationals. I'm happy that they'll be here in DC next year! I'll finally get to go!

And for those of us who may be several years out of work raising kids, it's good to know that most wardrobes can be adapted to fit in without breaking the bank. Still there's nothing like a good excuse to buy a fabulous evening dress.

And Diane, you always look so fabulous and classy that you'll never have to worry about being out of style like some of us who roll out of bed and put on the first thing we see ;).

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Actually, guys, Diane posted the blog for me (prisakiss) since I didn't get it posted last Tuesday! Thanks for the help and for keeping us organized, Diane, and Mary, too.

Esri, I can't wait to see what eBay and the Chinese have cooked up for you this year. :-)

As much as time as I spend trying to figure out what to pack for SF, like I said in my blog, it's a comfort to know that as long as I remember to dress professionally, but to my comfort level, I know I'll be okay.

Eden, you're right about not needing to break the bank when shopping or planning for national. I am a consummate sale and clearance rack shopper. My daughters know, if it's not on sale, it will be soon. If not, you didn't need it anyway. Too many others have already bought it, and you don't want to be wearing the same thing. :-)

Anyone else still in the planning stages of packing for SF?

Is anyone already packed and ready to go? If so, I am in awe!

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Considering I'm leaving in two days, I am already packed except for those last-minute items. I think the only errand I still have to run is to get my eyebrows waxed. And after getting an infected foot from a sore caused by conference shoes last year, I'm SO bringing comfy (yet cute) shoes this year.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Two days, Trish? Gosh, I'm juggling so many things right now, trying to get work, school, and family organized for me to next week, I'd be running crazy if I was leaving in two days. :-)

Hopefully next Monday I'll be as calm and well-organized as you.

Have a safe trip!!

Comfy shoes are a must for conference. That doesn't have to mean frumpy, though. I have some great heels and dressy sandals that don't bother me at all. But blisters can definitely put a crimp in a girl's swagger.

Remember to pack a sweater you can throw on if you're cold in a restaurant or during a presentation, too.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Right, Pris. I was just the poster, because I have the power!! To move and edit the blog, that is. Pris is the fashionista!

I've been obsessed by clothes for the last month, taking time to shop the sales at when I should have been writing. The great news is, I found the PERFECT dress for the Harlequin party! Online from Macys!

I do think it is important to stress that dress should be professional. While you can wear jeans and Tshirts, they had better be "casual Friday" jeans and Tshirt, not working-in-the-garden jeans and Tshirt or going-to-class- like-when-I-was-in-college jeans and Tshirt. And I would recommend just one step above that, a more professional look. But no reason that can't be comfortable. And I always freeze when I'm at conferences.

Another thing, don't even bother to pack your perfume. They always warn the attendees against perfume--too many allergic people around.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Whoops! Thanks for the column, Pris!

It's really true about being cold everywhere. The temptation is to bring all your summer clothes, because it's hot outside. Layers are your friend. I usually bring a lot of skirt-oriented outfits, and an all-purpose shawl.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

It's also true what Mark Twain supposedly said about San Francisco in the summer. :-)

Bring lots of layered clothes and you'll be fine. Right now the city's been pretty foggy, which I like cuz it makes the 'burbs bearable. Hopefully we'll get some sun and warmth next week.

But mornings and evenings can typically be foggy, so bring your sweaters and jackets. And don't forget tennies or comfy walking shoes because Union Square, Nob Hill, and China Town (note to Esri) are all very walkable destinations from the hotel, and hills build great calf muscles!

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Ooh, thanks for the tip, Jane! I might have to do me a little shopping!

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

When I was a child coming back from a year in Japan where my father had been stationed, we landed in San Francisco in the summer and we had to unpack our winter coats!

So I'm going to make certain I have layers. Thanks for the reminder, Janegeorge!

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Good to know about the perfume, O Divine One. We just won't tell my brother the bottle of L'Air du Temps he bought me for the trip stayed home!

I have really enjoyed trying to decide what to take on this trip. I tend to go pretty professional for these sorts of things. Suits and suit type dresses. Really elegant stuff for the awards things. Now the shoes are my dilemma. I REALLY want to bring a pair for each outfit, but that won't work. I am definitely bringing some tennis shoes for the walk from the Pickwick to the Marriot, but I will stash them in my bag and don my heels before I enter the Marriot. I did buy some really nice silk pjs and a silk robe just for the trip.

At 1:21 AM, Blogger Keli Gwyn said...


Great advice. I run cold, so I appreciate the heads up on the a/c and the need to have a jacket or sweater.

And I hear you about the comfy shoes. If my feet hurt, I'm not a happy conferee.

Hope all comes together nicely for you and that you leave home feeling like things are under control so you can have a guilt-free time at Nationals.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I am still planning and preparing and packing. I manage to pack a few things a day. I mostly wear black pants with a comfy blouse each day. Maybe, just maybe, I'll wear a casual comfy dress this time, too.

See you all there!

And thanks for the tips, Pris!


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