Thursday, 22 July 2010

Looking the Art

I never look more like a geography teacher than when I'm on the beach. Unless I'm looking like a minor civil servant on annual leave that is, and really it could go either way. Of course, being English, the sunburnt knees and insect bites come naturally, but at least I could do something about that hat.

Back when I lived in Silicon Fen, people with bored handshakes would say 'you're in IT I suppose', and I always enjoyed putting them straight, if only to watch their confusion. 'Is that even a job?' they wanted to say. Perhaps it was unfair of me not to have purple hair and a brain stud.

To what extent should (should?) people in the arts peacock themselves with flamboyant dress? Is a poet in a cardy and slippers not to be taken seriously? And what about a crumpled linen suit, straw fedora and loud summer scarf? Which is worse, being a disappointment or being a cliché?

Now that we writers are all performing monkeys and indefatigable self-promoters (you reclusive types can just stay at home), surely it pays to adopt a trademark style. Some have big hats, others enormous beards, and some look like they've escaped from rock bands. What do you think, could red knees do it for me? And how about you – do you expect creative people to give themselves away in their manner of dress? And what do you do to set yourself apart?


  1. Being orange should do the trick for you!

    I'm six feet tall in flats - I reckon I stand out. Might start wearing a fedora, though, and maybe grow a beard to go with my stash :)

  2. Oh dear, I'm clearly not cut out for the literary life. I choose my wardrobe on the basis of what's nearest when I'm getting dressed ...

  3. Great post! I love this question.

    I tend to dress conservativley and, in what I call, New England Sparrow Colors. White camis, with skirts and sweaters in a combo of beige, black and brown. Once in a while I'll inject a little color.

    Around the house and on the beach, that's different, but this is my main working style.

    I read recently that people who are unorthodox in their thinking, or just plain crazy, should dress conservatively to be better accepted by society. So I guess I'm doing the right thing;)

    Love the burned knees. Your style looks just fine to me:)

  4. Thanks, Rachel. Yes, being orange would certainly make a statement. And funnily enough, the other day I got talking to a fisherman who wanted to know if I was Dutch! I know I don't have the local accent, but still...

    Being tall is good. I'm six foot four.

    Simon, I'm like you. In my opinion true artists should be allowed to look like scarecrows.

    Terry, New England Sparrow sounds intriguing! You sound like one smart lady to me.

    I think those who try hardest are probably compensating for something. Being orange, for example:)

  5. I'm 5ft 4, so I certainly don't stand out alas. I once went to an event and was greeted with the words: "Oh! I expected someone much taller!". Strangely, I apologised...

  6. James, you're too nice. I think a kick in the shins would have been more appropriate.

  7. I'm in IT and almost wore my 'ironic' tank top to an interview. Lucky I didn't as the interviewer was wearing his tank top! I've never managed to build a 'personal brand' and confuse myself as much as other people as to what I do..

  8. Just relax and do what your father yourself. Sun lotion is a good idea though.

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  10. Oops! I just posted as Celia. Sorry, Celia.

    Hi Jo. Yes, ironic tank tops are great, though they can cut both ways. Like Ironic gnomes.

    Thanks, Dad. It's cloudy now so I'm quite relaxed.

  11. I've always hankered after dressing in something which reflects the contents of my head. A satin turban maybe, with a multi coloured kaftan and copious beads, all set off by a black cigarette in a gold holder and scarlet nail varnish. As it is I'm mostly to be found in jeans and a shirt blending into the background.
    I love your self portrait. Anyone reading this who doesn't know you would immediately pick you out of a crowd of geography teachers
    (or Dutchmen)

  12. I think I used to wear my four kids as some sort of badge or brand and when I don't have the grand-boys with me then I feel as if someone has pulled the fern away I was hiding behind. We have a writer in our choir who 'came out' a couple of months ago. I remember staring at her furtively for the rest of the evening trying to match this new role with the person I knew as a singing Granny. Hilary x

  13. Oy, I hope I'm not expected to dress the part. I pretty much live in jeans and tee shirts. If anything sets me apart it's the fact that I don't do anything to set myself apart (99% of the time my hair is in a messy ponytail and I'm not wearing makeup). So yeah, I'd say your red knees and geography teacher ensemble are perfectly eccentric.


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