‘What are you wearing?’ It’s never been my favourite question. I associated it, for a long time, with the most tedious of the various clients I encountered when doing phone sex work or the even less thrilling text sex work, and used to while away the idle minutes between calls by speculating as to what would happen if I told the truth. Click, probably as the truth was nearly always ‘tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt with a peculiar stain on it.’ I would sometimes strive for a little bit of realism, particularly with the text clients, if my persona was supposed to be going about her normal life. If I was pretending to be an office worker, I would describe a ‘sexy secretary’ outfit, or claim to be ‘just out of the shower’ and wearing nothing but a towel.
As has been mentioned before, the trope of the erotica writer at work polarizes between the tracksuit and slippers, or the corset and feather boa (it’s nearly always the former). But the fun starts when you have to go out and meet people while you are being your writer self. What am I going to wear for this gig? Who am I going to feel like being? I’ve noted quite a range of sartorial decisions among my fellow writers, whether it’s at a slam or a conference, and I tend to have a wardrobe crisis pretty much every time I’m going anywhere.
Some authors go for a themed approach, and I would have to say that this works best if your work has a distinctive theme: Bella Settarra writes a fair bit of cowboy-themed erotic romance and does the sexy-Texan look very well for reading slams. Others who write historical, steampunk or fantasy stories often like to get a bit of cosplay in when they’re promoting their work, which is equally good fun, but it does get a little trickier if your books are mostly concerned with contemporary, everyday life.
I have a tendency to favour hats, boots and lurid trousers, which does sometimes lead people to ask ‘What have you come as?’ I have yet to evolve a satisfactory answer, but I suppose the main advantage is that I won’t get mistaken for anyone else. Right now, though, I have to pick out suitable attire for two networking parties, an all-dayer and a weekend of bookselling, and it’s all got to fit in one suitcase along with the books themselves. Maybe it will be warm enough for nothing but my birthday suit, which will at least save on packing.