Maybe it's that I've had only four hours sleep in the past forty hours, or that I'm emotionally drained from several days' worth of engaging with other readers and authors, plus our girl's return to college--I've come to the conclusion that all my sartorial fretting about my Bouchercon panel Saturday morning actually had very little to do with what I would wear.
My Walmart dress did cost $20. So did my shoes. The bracelet was $8, the necklace $7, the earrings $12. And...so what?
What was the last big occasion for which you bought a new outfit, or spent hours agonizing over what you would wear? A wedding, perhaps? A job interview? Court appearance? When the event was over, were you thinking about the clothes you wore, or were you thinking about how you felt, how you acquitted yourself, how others behaved? (Hm. Don't know what all the legal references are about today.)
Saturday's panel had me worried. I've always relied heavily on my costume to help carry me through significant events--and for me, sitting on a panel with four smart, successful, generous, bestselling writers is freaking significant. I don't mean to go all analytical, but I think that my tradition of fretting about what to wear might be a little, uh, misplaced.
Image is important, of course. How I look is part of the Author Girl package (I seem to have adopted the Author Girl phrase from a good Author Girl friend. It just fits so well. Author Woman or Author Lady or Author Female isn't the same, somehow. Hope she doesn't mind. : ) But how much more important is it that whatever comes out of my mouth or off of my keyboard makes reasonable sense? How much more important is it to offer something useful/entertaining/encouraging to my friends, colleagues, and readers who are gracious enough to give me a few minutes of their time?
As I sat up on the dais, was I worrying about whether Lee Child thought I looked like a cheap tart in my red shoes and $20 dress? No. I was worrying about whether I was going to sound like I belonged up there. The latter feels way more appropriate to me than the former. And now that I think about it, I've pretty much always felt that way. I just believed that an expensive costume would act as a kind of armor: if I looked like I belonged, then that was half the battle won.
Funny how we're all the stars of our own shows, all the time. I laugh to think that I sat through four or five panels this past week and couldn't tell you who was wearing St. John, who was wearing Haute Cato, or who was wearing Sean John. (Well, except for one of my real-life fashion heroines, Hank Phillipi Ryan, who is always dressed with impeccable taste. I always notice what she's wearing!) Talk about an ego-killer. Really, I don't know that many of us see very far beyond ourselves.
So, here's the $20 Norma Kamali Long-Sleeve Jersey Dress. For what it's worth, I enjoyed wearing it. Or, I should say that I didn't really think about wearing it. Which is how it should be, don't you think?
Have a fabulous week!