Wednesday, March 2, 2016

5 Must-Have Accessories to Murder @dianevallere

LUCY BURDETTE: Reds, I'm so happy to introduce Diane Vallere to you today, if you don't already know her! Somehow she pegged me as a costume person and asked me to read her book. Now that first in her costume shop mysteries, A DISGUISE TO DIE FOR, has hit bookshelves--and it's definitely a winner. Welcome Diane!

DIANE VALLERE: Fact: the last four accessories I purchased came from a costume shop. Clown necktie, clown bow tie, and two pair of fishnet stockings. And truth be told, I’d be lying if I said this was a new phenomenon inspired by the costume shop mystery series.  

Back in my college days, I threaded holsters and plastic silver pistols through a belt, buckled it around my hips, and wore it to a frat party with a yellow sweater and khaki skirt. A few weeks later I dyed my bobbed hair black and added ropes of pearls and elbow-length gloves to my outfit of fringed skirt and sleeveless tank. And in one lecture hall, the pink crinoline under my black skirt took up so much room on either side of me that I ended up sitting alone.
What, you think that sounds weird?

As someone who first made a living in the fashion industry prior to becoming a writer, I’ve long known that the way we dress is a reflection of who we are. Shows like What Not to Wear endorse that very fact, drawing style inspiration from inside a person who’s been paying no mind to how they costume themselves. But as lifestyles become more casual and outfits are chosen for function rather than fashion, I have to wonder if our online presence has replaced the desire to take advantage of that all important first impression? Are we shifting away from individuality into an army of cargo-shorted and yoga-panted clones? 

I say it’s time for a revolt. So here are four items you might consider the next time you want to stand out in a crowd (and one personal fave): 

1.    Boost the glamour factor of your little black dress with an ostrich feather boa! Available in an assortment of colors and a fun toy for your cat when you’re done wearing it. 


2.    Not the boa type? Then go for a flapper headband. Keeps your hair in place and provides a perfect distraction from the spot where you accidentally spilled some salsa.

3.    Men: show off your personality with a pair of novelty suspenders! Green for St. Patrick’s Day, red for Valentine’s Day, or plaid for a bit of preppy whimsy.

4.    Cold feet? Warm them up with a pair of wacky socks. You’d be surprised what you can find at a costume shop: stripes, dots, and spider webs, to name a few. Wear them under a business suit and surprise your coworkers when you cross your legs.


5.    And of course, no wardrobe is complete without a clown tie.  Or is that just me?


No sooner does former magician’s assistant Margo Tamblyn return home to Proper City, Nevada, to run Disguise DeLimit, her family’s costume shop, than she gets her first big order. Wealthy nuisance Blitz Manners needs forty costumes for a detective-themed birthday bash. As for Blitz himself, his Sherlock Holmes is to die for—literally—when, in the middle of the festivities, Margo’s friend and party planner Ebony Welles is caught brandishing a carving knife over a very dead Blitz. 


For Margo, clearing Ebony’s name is anything but elementary, especially after Ebony flees town. Now Margo is left to play real-life detective in a town full of masked motives, cloaked secrets, and veiled vendettas. But as she soon larns, even a killer disguise can’t hide a murderer in plain sight for long.


How about you Reds, costumes or no costumes? If you love them, what's the best you ever wore?


  1. What fun! Unfortunately, I seem to lack the requisite creative imagination for devising costumes or adding accessories to my wardrobe [although I must admit to being irresistibly drawn to the flapper headband] . . . . I shall simply have to read "A Disguise to Die For" and find some inspiration.

  2. Dear Diane! Love your spirit! I am the most conservative dresser on the planet, just about. I dress up my little black dress with a strand of pearls. But isn't costuming a great way to bring distinctive characters to the page? Congratulations on the new book!

  3. I met Diane this last weekend at the Left Coast Crime convention in Phoenix and she was wearing that very tie (or I think it was that one). Loved it. And am so excited to read her costume shop book. She did a very vivid and quick presentation at the Author Speed Dating event that was quite memorable. Especially since, as this was my first mystery conference, my head was already spinning. Speed dating is rough. Even just about books. LOL

    Oh, and as for my costumes, well, I'm a yoga pants sort of girl (black only), but I do wear colorful tops and love pink and purple. :-)

  4. I love costumes! I really enjoyed our outfits for the zombie bike ride last year. And I was especially proud of the Kermit the frog costume I sewed some years ago. The one problem I had was the frog head covered me so completely that no one had a clue who I was. Not good for mingling!

  5. Waving to Diane. You always look divine when out and about at the conferences.

    I hope readers will give A Disguise to Die For a try.

  6. I adore costumes. For many years, at Halloween and sometimes at the Crime Bake banquet, I have dressed on the slut theme. Black wig, old black-rimmed glasses, red lipstick, tight short skirt, cleavage, heels of some kind, the works. And since I usually dress, shall we say, much more modestly and don't dye my hair, I can often fool people who know me. That's the best part! I wore a flapper headband over my black wig at Crime Bake last year, in fact.

    Best of luck with the new series, Ms. Super Productive! It's a great premise.

  7. I'm definitely a crazy sock person, and have fun shopping for them (probably the only thing I like shopping for!)

    For Halloween, I look around the house for things to put together to create a costume. I might need to buy a couple of items to add to it but never spend more than about five dollars, unless it's something I can use again for a non-costume reason. Last Halloween I dressed as the Death of Summer. (Summer is my favorite season; I can't stand being cold. It seems unnatural to me.) I wore brown slacks, a rust colored turtle neck and draped myself with garlands of autumn leaves. At my desk I hung a fake tombstone: "Rest in Peace, Sweet Summer". I also taped falling leaves to the side of my desk and scattered some on top of the desk. People who didn't know me said "oh, you're Autumn!" People who DO know me knew that I would never celebrate a colder season than summer! Some of them were able to guess the theme of my costume. Other years I've been a walking tag sale, static cling, a walking spider web (one of my favorites, and I'm terrified of spiders!), an accident victim- this was when I was recovering from one of my back surgeries. I wore my enormous back brace on the outside of my clothing, wore wrist braces that I had from a previous orthopedic issue, painted scars on my face, etc). I generally try to pick a theme each year.

    Diane, I plan to look for your books!

  8. I'll be the party-pooper: I am not a costume person. Halloween has to be my least favorite time of year. My kids drive me crazy with costume needs. They are both old enough to plan their own, but inevitably they need something wacky that requires a trip to the story. Just...ugh. I don't like dressing up myself, either. But I will say I enjoy looking at other people when they clearly put a lot of effort. Last year, five of my co-works did a "best of" trophy collection. Stands and painted gold and everything. Pretty impressive.

    I am not a sock person, but my kids are. Especially my girl. Not only does she love crazy socks, she deliberately mismatches them. Too bad she goes to Catholic school where she can only wear gray, black, white, or maroon socks - but she can do patterns if the pattern is in that color. My son bought socks with ducks on them - his favorite pair.

    Being in tech, we are ultra-casual, so jeans and tops are de rigeur for me. Not too much crazy you can do with that.

  9. Oh Deb, my goodness, your creativity is amazing! Who in the world would ever think of coming to a costume party as static cling??

    Edith, should we make any psychological interpretations about the theme of your costumes?? you always do a super job at the crimebake banquet!

    Mary, love your kids and their socks. I bet when your daughter finishes Catholic school, you will see her break out like Diane...

  10. Diane, you're so right about how we are perceived by how we're dressed. I often wonder what those "people of Walmart" think they're trying to say about themselves. Boggles the mind.

    Count me as a costume lover, especially couples costumes. Luckily, my husband enjoys it, too, and he goes along with whatever I dream up, bless him. My favorite so far was the year I dressed as Jill Sparrow (as opposed to Jack), and he was my pirate first mate. Second favorite: I was Snow White and he was Dopey, shaving his mustache for the occasion.

    In real life, though, my go-to accessory is a scarf.

  11. Thank you for inviting me here, Lucy/Roberta! Love the Jungle Reds!

    I love hearing about everybody's costumes! And Roberta, it was right here on Jungle Reds that I learned about your love of costumes. I can still picture the Kermet photo that you posted.

    Joan, that beaded flapper headband is pretty spiffy, right? I keep thinking it might make a nice addition to my Malice wardrobe, but not sure it goes with the other things I have in mind.

    Edith--I'm looking forward to seeing one of your costumes at Crimebake!

    Mary--perhaps you're just comfortable in your own skin? (I've always been more comfortable in costumes. A bit of a shield to hide behind?)

    Hallie--costumes are great fun for bringing characters alive!

    Waving back atcha, Kristopher!

    Kay--speed dating was one heck of a way to kick off LCC, am I right? I think my Lauren Bacall voice is just starting to go away.

    Deb--you can find all sorts of crazy socks at costume stores!! Imagine how jealous your friends will be! And I love love love your costume concepts. So much fun!!

  12. Karen, Lucky you! I have ALWAYS wanted to wear a couples costume and--to date--have not. (BF's requirements for a costume are slightly different than mine. His must be scary. And frankly, I don't want to dress up as a Jack the Ripper victim...)

  13. Diane, you could always do a couples thing with a girlfriend. Back in the 70's I went to a costume party with a 30's and 40's theme (Steve and I went as Karamojo Bell the Great White Hunter and Faye Wray from King Kong). A group of five women went as the Dionne Quints; another group, for some reason, went as "baby bees". No clue what that had to do with the era, but it was clever and cute.

  14. In high school I thought I should wear brown tones to match my brown eyes. Boring.
    I college (67-71) I discovered colors!!! And general outrageous-ness.
    I very much like the idea of great socks flashing under a suit pant leg.
    Life is too short to be drab.

  15. I once dressed as Rock-A-Bye Baby in the Marblehead, Massachusetts Horribles parade. I wore a burlap sack with pine branches stuck into it and carried my baby doll, Abigail, as I sang "Rock-a-Bye Baby" I won a silver dollar. I think every kid in the parade won a silver dollar, but I was the only one with a mother picking up pine branches.

  16. Diane, I loved seeing your different outfits/costumes in the pictures posted of Left Coast Crime. I thought it was so clever of you. I'm betting that if your book involved fairies, you'd be wearing fairy wings. You are who I would be if I felt more comfortable about my body. As it is, I tend to use quite a bit of black, which I like, but there is a flamboyant performer waiting to burst out of me. Halloween is a favorite time of year for me, due partly to the abundance of creative costuming.

    A Disguise to Die For sounds like it has much to offer the reader. I'll be fitting it into my reading at some point soon.

  17. I love any chance to wear a costume. I've got one coming up next month for a Shakespeare-themed weekend (in Stratford). So the Lady Macbeth wig is bought, but I still need to settle on housecoat or tartan everything. (Or a tartan housecoat, like that gorgeous one Cate Blanchett wore in Carol.)

    Plus my dog Spot, of course.

  18. Dianne, what a clever update of Golden Age mystery classic! Weren't people always getting murdered t fancy dress parties at country houses back in the '30s?

    Our whole family loves costumes. In fact, we just moved the last storage bin of costume parts up to the attic, reasoning that Youngest isn't going to be having any more dress-up playdates at age 15. My three kids have all done cosplay - dressing up as particular characters in TV/movies/anime/video games - for science fiction conventions.

    My favorite costuming moment however was when we, as a family, decided to go in costume to a movie debut. No, it wasn't Star Wars or Star Trek. It was The A-Team (Ross got the complete '80s series on dvd years ago and our kids have grown up watching the originals.) Ross went as Hannibal Smith (with a Mr. T action figure tucked in his vest pocket), Smithie went as the pilot Howling Mad Murdoch, The Boy went as "Face" and Youngest went as the spunky girl reporter (replaced by a spunky DOD agent in the movie.) And me? I went as the GMC van.

  19. Karen--you reminded me that I did wear couples costumes in college, not for Halloween but for the Beaux Arts ball. Witches of Eastwick (I was Cher) and backup singers (the theme that year was "unnamed.") (yes, we coordinated dance steps, too!)

    Libby--Love your attitude!

    Reine--that's what separates the regular costumes from the exceptional ones. Branches!

    Thanks, Kathy! You need to let that flamboyant performer have a chance to break out more regularly!

  20. Susan, you sound like me. I'll take any opportunity to dress up in a costume!

    Julia--I want to hear more about how you dressed up as the van!

  21. I like crazy socks too. One can never have too many. My husband always wants us to go as a couple for Halloween parties but I have yet to do it. I've been a flapper, Lizzie Borden, a lumberjack, Davy Crockett, Sailor Moon. . . We did once plan our costumes together for a cosmic-themed dinner. I think Halley's Comet was flying by that year. I went as Agent Scully and he went as a green faced alien with point ears.

  22. Pat, I love it! I've been a green faced alien, but what fun to be Agent Scully.

  23. Alas, no costumes for me. Don't know why. It would be fun to dress up! I gotta try it soon. Wait, maybe I'll head to fantasy fest. Love the clown tie, Diane, and I'm seriously thinking about visiting a costume shop for my next pair of socks. Those are my private vice. Dang, can it still be a private vice if I just announced it to the Reds?

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  25. I love the crazy socks. I once had a job wearing a costume all day long that included a giant head --- oh my it was hot hot hot. Since then I have not been quite so eager to wear costumes that include even masks.

    I did find it interesting to dress my old car up in a costume. It seems that when I was a younger and less experienced driver that my poor car got a lot of "bumps and bruises" as the result of running into multiple objects and one live cow. Of course, I could not afford to get them repaired, and since they were just "cosmetic," I fixed them myself. Armed with multiple colors of acrylic paint, I gave my car a personality all her own. It was a great looking car and the "costume" covered all the secrets.

    Now, my children have the cars with "badges of life experience" and I just let them life with the reminder that they should watch where things are in parking lots. (No cows where we live.)

    Must buy more socks for me and a polka-dot tie for Katie. 3 no 7

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