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View Full Version : What to wear to meet a prospective agent?



DustyFeathers
08-16-2008, 05:54 AM
Hi!

An agent has read a partial. He wants to meet me. He does not yet represent me. We are meeting informally to talk on a hot summer afternoon over coffee, sort of thing.

What should I wear? I'm a girl.

Blondchen
08-16-2008, 06:04 AM
Booby tassels.

DustyFeathers
08-16-2008, 06:05 AM
Very funny. Really. What should I wear? A dress? A nice suit?

Judg
08-16-2008, 06:06 AM
Business casual. Professional and serious, but not stuffy. Hard to go wrong with that, no matter what the personality of the agent.

DustyFeathers
08-16-2008, 06:22 AM
Thanks! I think I'll wear a dress--sort of nice but neutral on a summer day.

WendyNYC
08-16-2008, 06:41 AM
No suit, I would think. A summery-but-not-revealing dress or a skirt and top?

Toothpaste
08-16-2008, 07:32 AM
I'll add while you shouldn't be too revealing, it doesn't hurt to play up the fact that you are a woman and he's a guy. Don't go too crazy, but a little bit of sex appeal never hurt anyone! ;)

SPMiller
08-16-2008, 07:36 AM
Phew. I'm gonna screw this one up, if the day ever comes. I plan to wear my ordinary everyday clothing. But the reaction should be amusing.

Yeah, I'm a writer. Yup, the same one you were just talking to on the phone. I promise...

Woodsie
08-16-2008, 07:37 AM
You should bring your dusty feathers, just in case. ;) Congrats on the meeting!!!!

RLB
08-16-2008, 07:40 AM
Dress exactly like your MC would, talk in her voice and only respond to her name.

(But seriously, I agree with the cute dress idea.)


I'll add while you shouldn't be too revealing, it doesn't hurt to play up the fact that you are a woman and he's a guy. Don't go too crazy, but a little bit of sex appeal never hurt anyone! ;)

The two times I've gone to a conference, I've told my husband I want the immediate reaction to be "Who is that stunning woman and what has she written? I must know."

Polenth
08-16-2008, 08:24 AM
I think it's important to dress the way you feel is appropriate. For many in this thread, that's smartly. For me, it'd be everyday clothes. If the agent is going to have trouble with your dress-sense, to the point of not wanting you as a client, best for it to come out before signing.

Woodsie
08-16-2008, 08:30 AM
I've day-dreamt about the day I get to pick an outfit for an agent or publisher and I always see myself wearing trendy/business-lady tops, chunky jewelry with high end jeans and some cute heels.

Here's something useful: I read somewhere that women shouldn't wear perfume on a 'job' interview with a man because it's too distracting, but if you're interviewing with a woman it is encouraged.

Blondchen
08-16-2008, 08:39 AM
Business casual. Professional and serious, but not stuffy. Hard to go wrong with that, no matter what the personality of the agent.

Business casual, absolutely. Cute summer dress with a little cardigan maybe?

And booby tassels underneath.

JeanneTGC
08-16-2008, 10:25 AM
Just want to toss out that not all male agents are heterosexual.

Truly, don't play up that you're a girl -- he knows you're a girl. He's not hiring you to fetch coffee or work a stripper pole, he's interviewing you to see if he wants to rep you. This is a meet and greet so he can see what you're like and if you're worth working with and for. Dress in a way that's natural and relatively comfortable. I agree that business casual is usually a can't go wrong, but jeans and a t-shirt are going to be a lot better than going for the "subtle but sexy" look.

I've met a lot of agents -- not one of them gave a damn what I was wearing. What they ALL gave a damn about was what I was writing, and what I was like as an individual.

Nakhlasmoke
08-16-2008, 10:39 AM
Just want to toss out that not all male agents are heterosexual.

Truly, don't play up that you're a girl -- he knows you're a girl. He's not hiring you to fetch coffee or work a stripper pole, he's interviewing you to see if he wants to rep you. This is a meet and greet so he can see what you're like and if you're worth working with and for. Dress in a way that's natural and relatively comfortable. I agree that business casual is usually a can't go wrong, but jeans and a t-shirt are going to be a lot better than going for the "subtle but sexy" look.

I've met a lot of agents -- not one of them gave a damn what I was wearing. What they ALL gave a damn about was what I was writing, and what I was like as an individual.

Oh god THANK YOU. I was starting to think i was in some kind of weird parallel universe.

If it's really a big worry, wear what you would wear to an office job.

waylander
08-16-2008, 11:48 AM
Kristen Nelson blogged about this recently on Fri Aug 8

Broadswordbabe
08-16-2008, 12:01 PM
I would say wear what makes you feel good. (Well, yeah, within limits - I mean if a canyon cleavage and inch-thick makeup make you feel good, you might want to tone it down a little - likewise the leather and studs, unless you're writing biker fiction). But basically if you feel happy in what you're wearing, then you'll feel more confident. If you're wearing clothes that make you feel uncomfortable and unlike yourself, then you'll be nervous.
And good luck!

Toothpaste
08-16-2008, 06:18 PM
Just want to toss out that not all male agents are heterosexual.

Truly, don't play up that you're a girl -- he knows you're a girl. He's not hiring you to fetch coffee or work a stripper pole, he's interviewing you to see if he wants to rep you. This is a meet and greet so he can see what you're like and if you're worth working with and for. Dress in a way that's natural and relatively comfortable. I agree that business casual is usually a can't go wrong, but jeans and a t-shirt are going to be a lot better than going for the "subtle but sexy" look.

I've met a lot of agents -- not one of them gave a damn what I was wearing. What they ALL gave a damn about was what I was writing, and what I was like as an individual.

Sorry if I offended with my suggestion. I knew some would find it shocking. I really didn't mean to say you should wear a clingy red dress and stilettos, but was just being honest. And by subtle, I meant subtle. I didn't mean, bat your eyelashes and lick your lips, and I said nothing at all about flirting. Just about wearing something "subtle but sexy". No mention of any pole there!

Yes agents are looking for a product, they are also looking for something to market, and a pretty girl, who is comfortable in her own skin, is definitely marketable. I'm sorry, but I know quite a few young women who's agents sent along their photos along with their submission package to editors. Now what purpose on earth could a photo have to do with a writing submission, except the obvious? Also even if the man is gay, gay men like a well dressed woman comfortable in her sexuality. I actually didn't specify straight or gay for that reason.

Of course the most important thing is for you to be comfortable, dress how you would dress, don't try to be someone else. Look clean and presentable, and I totally agree with not wearing a lot of perfume.

But those suggestions had already been made, I was thinking a little outside the box. I was pointing out possibly a slightly uncomfortable truth. We all have different things we can use to our advantage - of course the writing is the most important thing. But I wanted to throw the idea out there, just so she could think about it.

In the end though, I expected she would take all our suggestions into consideration and choose whatever one suited her best. Just wanted to keep her options open!

ETA- I want to add that this is only something to do if you feel comfortable with it. You won't lose points if you don't want to do it, nor should an agent decide against an author if they don't look right. It's just one more thing to use to your advantage is all, but it shouldn't be the most important thing. And if an agent thinks it is, woah, so not worth signing with that agent!

stormie
08-16-2008, 06:24 PM
A summer dress, flats or slight heels. Or a summer skirt and top. Not much jewelry (earrings, a ring, a watch).

SPMiller
08-16-2008, 06:42 PM
I'd like to extend Toothpaste's advice, if I may.

Good-looking people have all sorts of doors open for them that not-good-looking people don't. Period. Therefore, dressing a bit "sexy" would work just as well for attractive men.

If you don't like that, tough. I don't like it--I ain't a beauty king myself. But it's the truth.

Donkey
08-16-2008, 06:58 PM
I'd like to extend Toothpaste's advice, if I may.

Good-looking people have all sorts of doors open for them that not-good-looking people don't. Period. Therefore, dressing a bit "sexy" would work just as well for attractive men.

If you don't like that, tough. I don't like it--I ain't a beauty king myself. But it's the truth.

Problem is, it's not advice that most people can take, is it. Most of us aren't all that attractive. Unless you live in Redondo Beach, of course.

Toothpaste
08-16-2008, 07:05 PM
Problem is, it's not advice that most people can take, is it. Most of us aren't all that attractive. Unless you live in Redondo Beach, of course.

That depends. Most of us aren't Hollywood gorgeous to be sure, but is that the benchmark for attractiveness? I have met some very sexy men and women who would never be categorised as that, but still have that certain something. Gary Oldman to me is incredibly sexy, and he's this skinny little guy with a bit of a strange face. We've got to start behaving more like the Europeans who see sex appeal less about appearance, and more about attitude. But that is a WHOLE other discussion!

Look I'm sorry if I opened a can of worms, truly. It was one suggestion, not an absolute, and the OP was free to take it or not. I wanted to put something out there that maybe hadn't been thought of, unpleasant or not as it was, that is all. I know it's annoying that looks matter, even in the writing world, but the good news is they aren't the be all and end all (unlike the acting world). I say use whatever you have to your advantage. Some people have an amazing platform, their novel is about surfing and they are a world champion surfer, I'd use that! But not everyone has a platform for their novel, something unique about them that makes the novel even more special, so that means we have to find something else that makes us marketable. Some people are wickedly funny. And some people are attractive. Some people can charm their way out of parking tickets. Use what you have, use what you are comfortable with.

It's all about the writing yes, but it doesn't hurt to come with something a little extra.

willietheshakes
08-16-2008, 07:11 PM
Sorry if I offended with my suggestion. I knew some would find it shocking. I really didn't mean to say you should wear a clingy red dress and stilettos, but was just being honest. And by subtle, I meant subtle. I didn't mean, bat your eyelashes and lick your lips, and I said nothing at all about flirting. Just about wearing something "subtle but sexy". No mention of any pole there!

Yes agents are looking for a product, they are also looking for something to market, and a pretty girl, who is comfortable in her own skin, is definitely marketable. I'm sorry, but I know quite a few young women who's agents sent along their photos along with their submission package to editors. Now what purpose on earth could a photo have to do with a writing submission, except the obvious? Also even if the man is gay, gay men like a well dressed woman comfortable in her sexuality. I actually didn't specify straight or gay for that reason.

Of course the most important thing is for you to be comfortable, dress how you would dress, don't try to be someone else. Look clean and presentable, and I totally agree with not wearing a lot of perfume.

But those suggestions had already been made, I was thinking a little outside the box. I was pointing out possibly a slightly uncomfortable truth. We all have different things we can use to our advantage - of course the writing is the most important thing. But I wanted to throw the idea out there, just so she could think about it.

In the end though, I expected she would take all our suggestions into consideration and choose whatever one suited her best. Just wanted to keep her options open!

ETA- I want to add that this is only something to do if you feel comfortable with it. You won't lose points if you don't want to do it, nor should an agent decide against an author if they don't look right. It's just one more thing to use to your advantage is all, but it shouldn't be the most important thing. And if an agent thinks it is, woah, so not worth signing with that agent!

Quoted for truth.

It's just the real world, that's all.

I, myself, as a professional and a male, go with business casual.

Which, in my case, means a too-often washed black shirt, untucked, a pair of jeans, and Doc Martens for virtually all professional engagements. If we're going for lunch in a very nice place, I might break out the black jeans (saved for special occasions only).

The only time I tart up is for the Giller Prize gala - the shock on people's faces when they recognize me makes it all worthwhile.

Ken
08-16-2008, 08:15 PM
err on the side of caution, as they say, and dress a bit better than you think you should. No one is ever going to knock you for being too well dressed, but they might for being too poorly so.

MoonWriter
08-16-2008, 08:38 PM
If you want his undivided attention, wear business casual.
If you want his divided attention, wear booby tassels.

BenPanced
08-16-2008, 10:02 PM
The two times I've gone to a conference, I've told my husband I want the immediate reaction to be "Who is that stunning woman and what has she written? I must know."
An even better reaction would be "Who is that stunning (GENDER) and what has (GENDER-SPECIFIC PRONOUN) written? I must sign them as a client immediately!"

Irysangel
08-16-2008, 11:58 PM
I'd wear something that I would wear to a job interview. You're looking for a business associate. They're looking for someone that's going to treat this like a job.

No one is EVER going to pass you over for representation if you were 'too' dressy for a business lunch. They will, however, judge you if you're dressed a little too far 'down' the scale.

And business casual is such an expansive term. Because I work in a huge financial office and we have business casual attire. It apparently means 'everything but jeans'. So a lot of the time I simply tell people that you should wear 'interview appropriate' or 'church appropriate' clothing.

Chasing the Horizon
08-18-2008, 10:58 AM
So what would agents think when I came in wearing a vintage paisley shirt, five eyeball necklaces, and with my hair fifty different shades of blue, purple, and pink? I'm not kidding, that's how I dress and how I have my hair (I have a bunch of piercings too). I think 'business casual' would look a little ridiculous on me :D I personally think I look like a fantasy writer, though.

Judg
08-18-2008, 05:30 PM
Hope, that would depend on the agent. And on your writing. If you're doing off-the-wall, Douglas Adams style stuff, the kind of agent that would find that kind of writing attractive would probably not be fazed one little bit.

If your writing is less quirky, a prospective agent might be a bit surprised by your style. I don't think it would be a deal-breaker, but you never know. I think it would depend on the likely audience of your writing. If you're aiming for broad appeal, he/she might prefer it if you tone down the look for book signings, at least.

Phaeal
08-18-2008, 05:32 PM
Maybe the agent wants to see how you'll play at signings and other appearances. I'd say it depends on your genre more than your gender. What would appeal to your audience's fantasies or comfort zones? Sex in the City glam or femmy frilly could work for certain types of romance writing. A touch of khaki and serious sunglasses for military fic or outdoor adventure. Blue-purple hair and piercings for experimental fic. ;) Urban gaunt or hip academia for literary fic.

For SF and fantasy, it seems to me that casual for women, very casual to downright messy for men, is the norm. Heh, the first Worldcon I went to, I brought nice dresses and suits. Boy, did I look out of place.

Shadow_Ferret
08-18-2008, 07:09 PM
but a little bit of sex appeal never hurt anyone! ;)
Hey! Unfair. Cheater cheater pumpkin eater.

Polenth
08-18-2008, 09:56 PM
For SF and fantasy, it seems to me that casual for women, very casual to downright messy for men, is the norm. Heh, the first Worldcon I went to, I brought nice dresses and suits. Boy, did I look out of place.

I wondered this when Kristin Nelson posted. It seems that in romance, dressing smartly is the norm. Both from what she said and the comments in reply to her blog.

But when I see pictures of sci fi/fantasy authors, the clothes are all over the place. Loud shirts, strange hats... they have it all.

We need a genre fashion guide. Then we'd know what's in and what's not in our genre. Dressing like a Klingon? So last year. And so forth.

Chasing the Horizon
08-19-2008, 03:07 AM
I'd noticed the same thing Polenth said about writers in different genres dressing differently (you can tell that even from the pictures in the backs of the books). I really doubt that how you look matters all that much in the end, though. After all, Stephen King has to be one of the weirdest looking people I've ever seen, and he doesn't seem to have any trouble selling books. :D

soleary
08-19-2008, 03:43 AM
Go to a dark, smokey bar. Where something ... revealing ... Tell him or her you give great query :)

Susan Breen
08-19-2008, 05:54 AM
I always dress up a little when I meet my agent, or when I'm giving a reading. Something that has to be dry-cleaned. That's when I know it's formal enough. I think it gives me authority and I feel like I'm saying I take this all seriously. I also wear the highest heels I own, which still doesn't bring me up that high, but it helps.

willietheshakes
08-19-2008, 06:11 AM
Dry-cleaned!?!?!?! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh....