Monday, March 14, 2011


You’re wearing what????

After fretting about dressing my characters last week, I turned my attention to myself. What was I going to wear for heaven’s sake? It was fine for Charlotte Adams to have her trendy shoes and the others to have whatever you might call their outfits. But what about the author? For years I worked in my pyjamas first thing every morning, but recently, mornings have been taken up with promotion, writing biz and, um, blogs. So I have switched to afternoon. So what should be my writer’s uniform in that case? I tried asking my writer friends the tough questions and got a number of answers, many of them revealing. Psychologically at least.

Of course, I started with my Canadian friends, figuring they’d have the same climate issues as I do.

I was pretty certain that Joan Boswell would be the first one up every morning so I started with her. Sure enough. Joan confessed: “Since I have to get up and walk my dogs every morning I get dressed but sweats and a t-shirt with a polar fleece vest work well. And I always wear makeup; always have even when heading for the delivery room.”

Is it my imagination or are there many many story possibilities buried in that? She always looks good. I’ll say that about her. She didn’t mention colour-coordinated or Chico’s, but I know better.

Linda Wiken (AKA Erika Chase) is up pretty early too. Apparently, it’s cold in her house (despite warm bodied cats). Her teeth seem to chatter as she filled me in: “Usually, during these cold, wintry days I'm wearing warm sweatpants, a turtleneck T & one or 2 fleece tops -- if it's 2, the top one is a vest & when I get to that stage I realize it's time to bump up the thermostat. And always earrings!”

Well, she’s sure been productive lately working on her second mystery book club novel. I am putting that down to the earrings. Unless it’s two (!) fleece tops.

Vicki Delaney has a uniform, no matter what (almost). I was thinking maybe she’d have a hat like Constable Molly Smith, but no. She states categorically, “I am always in my pyjamas. Flannel in the winter, cotton in the summer. Always pyjamas, never a nightgown. The only exception is if I am expecting someone like a workman, and then I'll put on something respectable.* Even in the summer when outside on the deck - it's the PJs.”

* Note to readers: respectable is not defined. Hmm.

“My sweats, exactly what Meg wears when she's at home,” says Robin (R.J. Harlick)who is outdoorsy like her protagonist. Of course, as she has a new puppy, I am not sure how much writing is getting done. Whatever is, will be all about the comfort level. Although she denies any makeup use, she admits to wearing earrings too. They are slightly offset by the fluffy slippers, but altogether an authorial look.

“Cold feet, no ideas,” says Barbara Fradkin. “I am also a PJs and dressing gown plus fuzzy slippers person. The fleece slippers are essential. If I am writing in the evening, I have to be in comfy clothes like a baggy sweatshirt and pants, soft on the skin, no constricting belts, shoes, etc. It looks like hell, so I'm always terrified someone will drop by.”

I was toying with the idea of paying some handsome fellow to ring Barb’s doorbell this evening, just for the hell of it, but my good angel wouldn’t let me.

Pressed to reveal more (so to speak) and talk about her warm weather and cottage gear, Barb issued the following terse statement: “Hah! That depends on the weather. You're angling for bikini, or maybe even naked, aren't you? All these polar fleeces and baggy sweats just don't liven up the page. On the dock in spring and fall, I've been known to wear my ski jacket, tuque and gloves. In summer... the less the better. I did try naked once, but it didn't produce my best work. Had to keep looking up every time I heard the growl of a fishing boat.”

This made my day and I am sure it will make yours too. No photo was included. I still haven’t figured out to wear while writing in the afternoon.

In the meantime, what do you wear when you are at work? What do you wish you could wear?

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three (soon to be three and a half) mystery series and a couple of dozen short stories. Her thirteenth mystery novel, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder (April 5, 2011), is brimming with names, no two the same.


  1. Just don't frighten the horses is my motto and I'm afraid me writing naked on the dock would definitely frighten more than just the horses. Warm and comfortable is good with maybe just a little something swish thrown in - or on. A fancy sunhat or just about any pair of your shoes would do the trick, MJ.

  2. I'm in the no constriction camp. If it's after 2 p.m. I wear stretchy, fitness type pants and a colourful T shirt (sleeves & their length seasonally dependent)to keep the mood upbeat. No makeup, no jewellry. Hopefully clean hair & glasses!

    Before 2 p.m. you'll not want to come to my door . . . you'll find me in nightgown (bare legs, ugh), housecoat and slippers.