Sunday, November 7, 2010

Act and Dress the Part with VS Grenier-Part II

So now that we have a better understanding about what we should say and how we should act, what about how we should look? This is my biggest pet peeve with most people in my generation. I am an ‘X’er and for some reason my generation thinks they can dress however they want and should not be judged. WHAT? I do not know where they get this crazy idea. It would be nice if it was true, but it's not. I am here to tell you today that if you truly believe this then you are missing many opportunities.

Here are a few examples about what I mean. When I worked at Frederick's of Hollywood I made my sales team were causal suits. The reason? My sales team was treated differently when they wore anything other than a casual or business suit. Most of the men shopping in my store thought they were at some strip club and the women either were afraid of them or thought of my team as hookers. Now my team did not dress like a stripper or a hooker, but the image was preset in the customers mind because of the image Frederick's of Hollywood gives most people. It was my job as manager to help change this image and so the business attire was set to help change the mindset of the customers and it worked.

Another place I learned this example was when I interviewed with Hot Topic. I am sure most of you are familiar with their stores. I was a buyer by this time and I knew wearing my suit to the interview wasn't right. This is a company about music, culture and well . . .  rebels. Therefore, I wore something you would find me wearing in a club vs. at my desk talking with vendors. What I wore to my interview was a pair of leather pants, a tee with "Bad Kitty" printed on it and a matching leather jacket. I got the job and helped to design, market and open 15 Torrid stores nationwide before I left the company.

Another example was when I was still working with Hot Topic. As a buyer, you travel a lot to trade shows and conventions. On one such trip, I was traveling with the body jewelry buyer, the band tee buyer and some assistants. For those who have not been in a Hot Topic store, let me first describe how the employees dress. Do you remember the 80's punk bands? That is how a Hot Topic employee generally looks. However, when the buying teams get on a flight who works for Hot Topic, you would not know it by how they dress. Their hair is tamed down; the clothes are more like the norm and all the jewelry is taken off except a pair of earrings. I kid you not. They know how people look at them and so they change their appearance to fit it while traveling on flights to make those sitting near them more comfortable.

How you dress, act and what you say when you first meet someone, no matter how much you don't want to believe it . . . MATTERS!

Here are a few pictures to help you get an idea about what people think when they see someone wearing different outfits. Look at each photo and think where you would wear this. The descriptions next to each photo is what a buyer classified each outfit. They are not my opinions.

Picture 1: Did you think I would wear this to a conference? Believe or not someone did wear this at a conference I attended, however, a buyer would tell you this is for “Around Town and/or At Home” only. Now I want you to think about something. If you are going to pitch your ideas and books to editors, publishers and/or agents . . . shouldn't you dress your best? Wearing jeans, a tee shirt and button down shirt is not the way to do it. Think about going to an interview. Would you wear this outfit to that?

Picture 2: How about this outfit? Where would you wear it? A book signing, around town or at home? This was an actually person at a conference. Now a polo isn't all bad as long as you are wearing dress pants with it at a conference. However, if you are wearing a polo with jeans, forget it. You would not wear this to an interview would you? Now you could wear this to a book signing for children and get away with it. You may want to dress a little nicer for an adult book signing though.

Picture 3: Did you guess around town, conference, book signing or school visit? This is what my hubby wears all the time when off from work, but you would never catch him wearing this to a city meeting. Jeans have no place at those functions and neither does a tee shirt unless it is under your button down shirt as an undershirt. Even the button down shirt is really pushing it because it is a causally cut style. If you are going to pull this look off for a conference, make sure to wear a dress shirt. It dresses up your jeans (make sure they have no holes or worn areas) and with a pair of dress shoes you are ready to go. I am not sure this would be a great outfit for speaking though. You will have to consider your audience and venue.

Picture 4: Here’s another one. What do you think? Conference, book signing, school visit or speaking engagement? Both outfits work because they are linen and comfortable . . . yet fashionable and professional looking. You can still have comfort without giving up the professional image. You want to look nice and like you are going to be interviewed when going to these places. Put your best foot forward. If that means buying one or two really nice outfits, do it.

Picture 5: What are your thoughts on this little ensemble? This looks like a jogging outfit and has no place anywhere but in your home or when working out. As an ex-fashion buyer, I would have to tie you up and leave you in your hotel room if you showed up wearing this somewhere you are trying to sell yourself as a writer. I know it's comfortable, but just don't do it. You will thank me later.

Picture 6: Okay, this picture was taken at a real writing conference. I kid you not! This is just a big NO-NO. Another thing about this outfit that just say's "DON'T DO IT OR I'LL SEND THE FASHION POLICE AFTER YOU" is how tight the outfit is on the person. Please people wear clothes that do not hug every part of your body. It does not look professional. It makes you look really bad. You maybe a size 4 or 6 and workout, but don't do it. I do not care if you have the best body in the world. We do not want to see that as an editor, publisher or agent. Parents do not want their young children influenced by such people and well . . . you do not want to give someone who could help your career along the wrong idea. Your body is not going to sell your book or you. In addition, when I saw this person, I wondered if I was on Hollywood Blvd. Sorry, it was the first thing that comes to my mind.

Picture 7: This outfit, even though the top is a tunic, is in a dressy material—Rayon. If the outfit has what we call DRAPE in the fashion world . . . it's professional looking. Now I do not mean to wear something that looks like a tent such as a Hawaiian dress or House Coat. Be smart about how the style flows, drapes and fits your body in a nice attractive way.

Now I do not expect you all to become fashion experts. I have the upper hand because of my former career. I use to do a professional wardrobe workshop for people who traveled when I first got into fashion. Here is the key saying: 5 over 4. This means 5 tops and 4 bottoms. Why more tops than bottoms, because one pair of pants should be black which means you can wear them an extra time. (Just make sure they are clean.)

The best place to shop for clothes that are professional looking and travel well is (for women)Cold Water Creek and (for men & women) Eddie Bauer. I know they are pricey, but it is well worth it. Another thing to think about is this: Cheap clothes wrinkle more and wear out fast. You should have a couple of professional outfits that are pricey. They will last years because of how well they are made (one reason for the high prices) and they travel better. They tend to wrinkle less or not at all.

Fabrics that tend to travel well: Poly blend (and I'm not talking about the old 70's cheap poly either.), Twill slacks, Rayon Blend (normally a Rayon/Cotton or Rayon/Poly), Spandex/Poly/Rayon blends travel great (just make sure they are slacks or a nice skirt), wool (if you can wear it and it is cold weather), and cashmere.

Nice fabrics, but you will have to iron (also great for warmer climates) Linen and Poplin.

Colors to wear: Medium to dark blues (navy or cobalt), black (a must have), white, red (in the blue hue. not fire engine red), tans, browns, and deep greens.

Stay away from bright colors unless you are dark skinned. It just looks too causal on a light person. Pinks turn men off so stay clear of those when looking professional. You will come off too girlie. Neon colors are a big NO-NO. Plaids do not work for everyone so stay clear of them. Animal prints are not professional looking unless done right so do not try it. Keep embellishments to a minimum or do not wear them at all. Jewelry should be fashionable and not overly done. There is a thing as too much.

Well that is the basics anyway. My advice. Have someone take pictures of you in the different outfits you plan to wear. The song and saying are true, "A Picture Tells A Thousand Words."

Think about what you have on when you go out to pitch, spread Word of Mouth about your book, and do those visits for book signings, schools and speaking engagements. Now with that said, if you write Vampire novels and you are doing a book signing . . . maybe wearing that Gothic dress is the right idea. After all, you are the author of a Vampire novel. So you can dress the part, but make sure the part your dressing fits your book, your image and what you want people to be talking about.

I hope my tips, suggestions and comments help you along your path to publication. This is why I did these blog posts. I not only wanted to give you the tools to write better letters, a synopsis, media release, blurb or give a better pitch. I wanted you to also think about how you act, talk and look.

Remember only you can Sell Yourself and your work. No one knows you or your work better than YOU do!

To learn more about VS Grenier visit


Elliah said...

Great post, Virginia!

I have one question. You never mentioned florals. What do you think about florals in the work place/conferences/signings, etc.???

Virginia S Grenier said...

Florals are okay as long as you can pull them off. Florals are like plaids in the fact not everyone can wear them. You just have to be smart when it comes to patters. Make sure it flatters you and gives the right impression.

The two things to remember when it comes to any pattern, what type of material is it and is the cut/style right for me and for the event I'm going to.

If you're not sure, ask the salesperson (if you trust their judgment) a friend, or family member. Tell them to be honest because you want to put the best foot forward. Or you can always take a picture. Like the song and saying goes . . . A picture can tell a thousand words.