I am told that some people fear public speaking so much that they would choose death over getting up in front of an audience. Speaking in front of people has never been a problem for me. I was sent to ballet school at three so I grew up used to performing in dancing competitions, acting in plays. And I’m a natural extrovert!
However when I have a book tour or convention coming up I lie awake and anguish about what to wear! I always feel that I am wearing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Like the time I attended a cocktail party given by my then-agent at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The party was for my European agents to meet me. I bought a stunning sapphire blue silk jacket. And when I entered the room everyone else was in black. I mean it. Everyone. I felt like a peacock that had inadvertently stumbled into a hen house.
I was once at a convention in Toronto and didn’t find out until I got there that the convention banquet was a formal affair. As in cocktail dresses. I had only pants and jackets with me. Nothing fancy at all. I had to rush out and try and find something suitable. But it was summer and the stores had shorts/short sundresses. Nothing suitable for a banquet. Mortifying.
And another fear is that I’ll be on book tour and someone will come up to me with a photograph. “I took this picture of us the last time you visited here three years ago,” she’ll say. AND I’M WEARING THE SAME JACKET! She’ll think I only own one jacket!
And then there is the matter of weather. Last week I was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis. I thought Indiana, February. Cold, right? And accordingly I brought a fur vest with me when I traveled from California to our condo in Arizona. And two days before the trip I check the weather in Indianapolis. 70 degrees. That is simply not fair. My smart 70 degree clothes are hanging on a rack in California.
So I arrived wearing a light outfit. The next morning I woke up and guess what—it was snowing. Wind chill in the teens. Luckily I had carried my one winter coat onto the plane.
The trouble is that I like to travel light. No huge suitcases to drag around and put my shoulder out. So I don’t want to take a selection of clothes suitable for all eventualities. I have learned to take an extra pair of black pants and an extra white turtleneck, just in case I spill coffee on myself (which certainly has happened) or as in the time I was on a midday TV show and in the segment after mine the chef cooked his grandmother’s favorite spaghetti sauce (bright red) and gave some to me to taste, on camera, wearing a white shirt. I still sweat at the memory of it!
And about the time the back of my long cardigan inadvertently dipped into the toilet… well, I won’t go there!
When you read this I’ll have just returned from Houston. I used to live in Houston. I know that the temperature can change 40 degrees in an hour so any trip in that direction means a choice of clothing ranging from Artic to tropical.
How I wish I could be Hank and look fabulous in a black suit.Or my friend Cara Black in her draped Paris-style black clothes. Alas black is not my color. I look as if I am heading to a funeral, probably my own. I realize that most people come to see me and don’t care what I’m wearing. I tell myself this. So why am I staring at the ceiling at 2:30 a.m. wondering what to wear at my next speaking engagement?
Reds and Readers: do you agonize over what to wear or do you just open your wardrobe and grab something?