Guest Post: Gail Carriger

In Which Gail Carriger Gets Snippy Over Proper Attire

Today Gail climbs onto the proverbial soap box and blogs about something evil, something so base and vile, that you may, just possibly, wish to stop reading right this very moment.

She may offend you.

She is not holding back.

Still reading? Right, here goes.

This is something I believe in, possibly more than anything else, Gentle Reader. So I am going to take the plunge. This is a highly embarrassing topic that everyone seems afraid to broach. Well, I have the courage. Someone must be strong, and I am that person. Yes, we are going to talk about . . . Appropriate Dress.

Let me start this off by listing some inappropriate dress for a convention, mixer, signing, event, party, rout, etc.

* Sweat pants

* Shorts

* Track pants/gym clothing

* T-shirts with offensive slogans (in fact t-shirts with slogans period I would strike down if you are over the age of 30, but I don’t think the SF/F community could cope with the great black void this would leave behind)

* PJs or anything that looks like PJs (for The Love, people!)

* Any article of clothing that has a hole that is not an arm hole, a leg hole, or a head hole

* Similarly, anything that is fraying, pilling, warn through, or sporting any kind of remnant of any kind of food

* Dirty shoes

* An untended beard

* Unwashed hair

I don’t care how alternative you think you are. How much a slacker. What counter-culture you believe you represent. You are none of these things.

You are a slob.

You are disrespecting the authors and presenters (if you’re a fan) and the fans (if you’re an author), not to mention all the other important individuals who have arranged for and attended the event (con organizers, editors, agents, producers, actors). Most importantly, you are shaming yourself and the SF/F industry as a whole. Yes you are. Suck. It. Up.

If you aren’t suitable to be seen in public, than you shouldn’t be in public. Go back, take a shower, take a nap, put on clean respectable clothing.

What sparked this rant, Ms. Carriger?

You might well ask. I was watching a (unnamed, to protect the guilty) video blog of some SF/F convention footage, featuring, I am sad to say, mainly authors. And I was ashamed. Ashamed, I tell you.

Please, let me explain something. Style is not hard. No matter what your shape or income level. All it takes is a tiny bit of time and effort. You can make it hard. I, for example, like a challenge. So do the Goths and the steampunkers out there. But it really doesn’t have to be difficult. And, as the person who spots the problem (namely, me) is responsible for its solution, here are some tips:

* Look around and find someone who’s about your shape and whose style you like. At a convention, in particular, this can work well because people are disposed to be friendly. Go up to them and ask politely where they shop, and how they put together their look. People, in general, love to talk about themselves and will be delighted to tell you.

* Invest in a few good pieces that you can pull out for public appearances in particular: a really nice pair of jeans, some basic black t-shirts, perhaps a sports jacket or a little fitted blazer. Ladies, never discount the inherent joy in one really nice day dress. It is far more important to spend money on basics than on the tux or the uber-fancy gown that you maybe wear once a year.

* You can do quirky, but try to confine it to accessories: hats, watches, jewelry, belts, belt buckles, and the like. Trust me, the people who do head-to-toe quirky put a lot of effort into it, you might want to ease in slowly.

* You have two choices: you can fit in, or you can stand out. You don’t want to fall to the wayside. If you are wearing inappropriate dress you will be dismissed. We are a superficial culture. Most cultures are. Appearance is important. No, don’t argue, it just is. There is no point in fighting this one; 34,000 years of clothing evolution is not something you can muscle down with one pair of ratty sweatpants. Besides, you and I both know the truth of it. You’re just being lazy.

* At a SF/F convention, to fit in, you wear jeans or BTUs, boots or sneakers, and a t-shirt with a nice graphic logo. This is very boring, but so long as it’s clean, at least you don’t look like a homeless person. Cheap corsets and old leather jackets are also known to make all-to-frequent appearances.

* At a convention, to stand out, you can do any or all of the following: go Goth, go vintage, wear a suit, were a nice jacket over your jeans and t-shirt, actually investigate the current trends an go fashionable (this one is hard), go hippy-dippy, go frat/sorority, and/or wear color (there’s an awful lot of black).

Right. So. There it is. Read it and shop!

Yours etc…


“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
~ Oscar Wilde


New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless (Oct. 2009), Changeless (March 2010), Blameless (Sept. 2010), Heartless (2011), and Timeless (2012). Soulless won the ALA’s Alex Award. She is nominated for this year’s Campbell award.

Gail will be appearing at AussieCon 4 in Melbourne in September 2010.

  • ella144

    Also, pull up the pants and tighten that belt. I’m so tired of seeing people’s underwear. Ugh.

  • I think the thing I find most offensive/annoying about people who come to events like that is that they not only think it’s okay to be sloppy and gross, they also think they’re properly dressed to ask people out.

    If you are a person with unkempt hair, wearing shorts and flip-flops, and a ten-year old anime t-shirt that’s faded past recognition and probably doesn’t fit you, with your grotty toenails and hairy feet visible to the world, and you attempt to pursue/court/hit on a person who has their hair up, is wearing a long dress and a hat, and proper boots, and is carrying their convention equipage in a pretty tote bag, or a person wearing a cravat and a frilly shirt and some nice brass accessories who is carrying a walking stick…

    …what do you think you’re doing?

    If they shoot you down, it’s not because you’re fat. Or broke. Or not in their preferred age group. It’s because they can’t imagine ever being willing to be seen with you in public.

    It’s harder if you’re big, or if you’re broke, and I totally get that, because I am both. Yet…nobody who isn’t a cat has ever seen me looking like that.

    It astonishes me that many people claim they go to conventions and say they are looking to meet potential romantic partners, yet they look like they are looking for their next fix.

    I have no patience for the “I have to dress up at work, why should I dress up in my leisure time? excuse. If someone really feels that way, why do they want to date people who like to dress up? Do they think we are only doing it to get a partner and that once we are “together” we will suddenly develop a fine appreciation for holey grey sweatpants ourselves? Or do they think that people who dress up are more attractive? And if they do, why aren’t they doing it themselves?

    I’m not one of those people who insists that my escort dress to match me, but I will not be seen in public holding hands with someone in a grotty t-shirt and ratty pants unless we’re in the laundromat, the waiting room of the doctor’s office or the local ER. I also don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who is always complaining that I require a little time to get prepared to go places because I’m not willing to roll out of bed, change my sweatpants and stick my feet into flipflops, then walk out the door.

    I once gave a party at an anime convention with a dress code and was appalled at how many people were annoyed by my simple request that they not wear t-shirts, sweats or sneakers to this particular event, which was meant to be sophisticated and decadent and at which my club served wine and nice food (since they made us card people to show yaoi, I thought we might as well have some wine to go with it). I wasn’t insisting that anyone dress to match their socially assigned gender role or above their pay grade. :( Nor would I.

  • I posted this on Marianne’s Facebook as well lol.

    I was just saying to my boyfriend the other day that nobody dresses up anymore to go out. I do not see how trakkie daks are suitable wear for going out, he called me a snob lol.

    Glad to see other people agree with me too!

  • Laura

    Thank you Ms. Carriger! I dress nicely no matter where I go. At the moment, in my private abode, I am wearing flannel and a Motorhead t-shirt, but I wouldn’t wear it farther than my front yard. Beyond the confines of my walls, I wear dresses, or skirts and blouses, with matching accessories, stockings, and my hair done tidily. I am constantly asked if I am appearing in a play, or if I am going to a special event. No, I just have some dignity!

    People who see me regularly smile and recognize me at shops. It is not just at SF/F conventions that people don’t put much effort into their appearance. With this response from the public, I feel sure that anyone who put a little regular effort into looking spiffy can improve their relations with the public in general.

    For me, it is now to the point that if I am dressed in any way less than my regular “dressy” look, I feel underdressed and uncomfortable. For example, the other day I went sailing with a group of friends. I had to wear SNEAKERS and PANTS! It was perfect attire for sailing, but after the trip, we went out to lunch and shopping. I felt mortified and uncomfortable with my appearance the rest of the day. Next time I go sailing, I will bring a change of clothing so that I won’t have to wear what are essentially work-out clothing for the rest of the day.

  • Rena

    Nicely done and some really good points. I would love to see some sort of pamphlet to this effect handed out to all con goers, especially regarding the point on ‘please shower and wear clean clothes’. I’ve heard many people involved with conventions wonder why they can’t get sponsors to give them deodorant samples for all the showbags, and it’s not entirely a joke.

  • Belinda

    Oh heck yes. BATHE! (with soap) Omg Supernova Brisbane is an event in, what amounts to, an oversized shed. It’s hot and cramped to the point of being claustrophobic. The LAST thing I want is someone’s unwashed body invading my personal space, and poisoning my air.
    Costumes for cosplay should also be dry-cleaned or at least given a good spray of febreze before being worn.
    *So glad all of Marianne’s fans I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet have been clean, and well dressed.*


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Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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