Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Elaine Viets | The Touring Author: How not to look like Mommy dressed you.

May 15, 2008

I was in a black mood.

I was planning to pack for the June tour for my seventh Dead-End Job mystery, “Clubbed to Death.” I had a wardrobe like a new widow: Black jackets. Black blouses. Black pants.

Black is the traditional color for author appearances.

It’s supposed to make you look serious. Sophisticated. Maybe even slimmer. Plus, black doesn’t show the minor smudges travel adds to the pale colors.

Black should be perfect for a touring author. But not when you’ve been shaken like a martini at 30,000 feet, for three days in a row. Put yourself in my (black) shoes:

You are flying to your fourth tour city in four days. Now it’s 4:30 a.m., and your media escort will be outside your hotel at five o’clock to drive you to “Good Morning, Festus,” a major TV talk show.

You flip on the bathroom light, pry open your eyes, and the bags under your eyes are a perfect match for your black outfit. Someone has stolen your face and replaced it with your Aunt Marie’s – the one who talked about her operations at dinner. There isn’t enough concealer in Texas to help you.

It’s time to abandon the literary funeral and consider a color.

But where do you buy clothes that look successful without bankrupting yourself?

I’m six feet tall. My arms measure 48 inches from finger tip to tip. That means I have a wingspan of four feet – equal to an NBA pro.

A stylish outfit from Target won’t work. Those adorable, affordable knockoffs have sleeves that are too short for me. The skirts look like belts. Add a pair of fishnet stockings, and I could moonlight as a cocktail waitress.

Designer consignment shops are supposed to be crammed with bargains, but too many are overstocked with cocktail dresses.

Fortunately, I live near Sawgrass Mills mall, which has an Escada outlet. Even discounted Escada is expensive, but if I buy it during the holiday sales (Christmas, Memorial Day, etc.) I can get jackets that fit for $250 to $400 – about seventy-five percent off the original price.

Notice I said jackets. I don’t buy the matching skirts. When I wear a designer suit, I look like I’m planning the annual charity ball. Instead, I pair a designer jacket with a black top and black pants or jeans. The look (I hope) is stylish, younger and less formal than a traditional suit with a skirt.

The trick to designer outlets is to buy the classic styles and avoid the season’s weird signature color. Remember that sickly yellow green a few seasons back? About six people could wear that color. The rest looked like unburied corpses.

For the “Clubbed to Death” tour, I’m packing a deeply discounted orange tweed jacket, (pictured with this blog), a lavender jacket and a pink Escada top.

I’m not afraid of a few colors. I read that pink is the new black.

Elaine Viets

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