In the world of interactive fiction, I very quickly discovered Emily Short, who is a clever, thoughtful, and successful writer/reviewer/blogger. In one of her reviews of a particular IF story, she went on a tangent about how she goes to gaming conferences and wonders how to dress and act in such a way that she doesn’t get idiots approaching her to give her lectures on the biz.
I’m yet to go to a proper game conference, but I go to a lot of writer/reader/fan ones.
I love a good costume, especially steampunk – which I also write. A corset tends to make any body type look better, so that works for me. Steampunk is such an easy and versatile look to do that I can take it anywhere, and people will often walk up to me saying, “Cool earrings” (or whatever), which is code for, “Hey, I like steampunk too.” And then I’ve found somebody I know I can probably talk to, even if I’m at a conference or event that tends to look askance at the entire fantasy genre (it happens in writing circles, believe me). I’ll often go in knowing I’ll be the only one in a corset, and that some people will think I’m a moron for wearing one (that was certainly the case at the CYA Conference I attended last weekend – possibly the best networking conference for writers in Australia). But ultimately it works for me very well – people tend to assume I’m a steampunk expert, in fact, which amuses me.
Costuming is a convenient path that tells people, “I’m serious about this.” Emily Short isn’t into costumes, so her choice of outfit is a great deal more complicated and subtle.
Along with the corset, I also consciously adopt an “I’m an enthusiast, not trying to be sexy” style and posture – complete with a deliberately subordinate position towards most people I talk to (generally in the form of being somewhat admiring of their wisdom and/or costume), although I’ll launch into teacher and/or helper mode at the drop of a hat (eg. When someone is too shy to approach someone, I’ll suggest we go talk to them together).
Sexy is well beyond me, and I know it. I never liked it anyway. On a really good day, I can turn “massively overweight” into “epic and magnificent”, and I’m proud of that.
This is my corset of choice at the moment:
I wear it quite loose so I can get it on by myself (with considerable difficulty). I was running late at CYA and carried it out with me in the morning, putting it on in a crowd of high-up publisher types as we waited for our taxi. One of the other writer types helped me, fortunately.
Buckles are cool.
CYA was amazing. It seriously had representatives from every large publisher in Australia (except Allen & Unwin), plus several of the best medium-sized publishers and three very good agents. I talked to literally every single one, and it was very quickly apparent where I should (or should not) send my books. Useful!