A Word About Fashion and Writers

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a 1940's dress
Long time ago by Nancy Ellison

I follow fashion blogs and I love fashion. As an actress for many years and I loved dressing up and becoming someone else– for me clothes did make the man/woman. Shirley MacLaine, in her one woman show, spoke about finding her characters through what she imagined their silhouette to be. I found my characters through dress, make up and, especially when playing period pieces, where their bodies were bound. By that I mean corsets, girdles, skirt diameter, anything that inhibited movement in daily life let alone the world.

Auditions demanded a certain type of fashion. As an actress in the 1980’s and 90’s you had at least three outfits for auditions. I had a tight black dress like the ones in the  “Addicted to Love” video. I wore that to audition to play villains, business women sleeping their way to the top and other nefarious types. Then came the suit, usually with a skirt for professional women: doctors, lawyers, heads of industry, and politicians. And finally perfect fitting jeans and a t- shirt or button-down which was worn to play the girl next door, sister, best friend or cop. Shoes were a basic black pump, a tennis shoe and a boot. I had two coats: a rain coat, because back then we really had winter, and a long black linen coat that I wore over the black dress when I was in dicey neighborhoods going to auditions.

I am not going to discuss commercial auditions and the times I was brought into a room full of men wearing a bathing suit to audition to play someone in an airport.

As a mom you dress for comfort. As a writer you dress for comfort. Which can leave you working in sweats and pjs. I get dressed. I find that the way I work best is to approach my time at the keyboard as a job. My dress code is still comfort but I wear my jeans and t-shirts or sweaters and sit down to work. Yes I do end up in sweats sometimes and even pjs but I try to make the effort. I remember my dad telling me about shaving everyday of WWII. It was a normal thing in an abnormal time. So when the girls were born I took a shower every day of their new born lives. Even if it was 6 pm I took a shower and I put on clothes. I tried not to spend the day in pjs.

I tried for  year to not over buy clothes. Even thought I fell off the wagon later in the year  I found that planning what I actually needed for the year helped keep me from over spending as well as helping me make good timeless choices. Now that I buy clothes for three women( I really miss the gymboree days when you could get 16 really cute outfits for around 300 and it would last 6 months or longer if you sized right) I have to plan. The girls grow, have events, travel and no one is in kid clothes anymore. The fashion budget has changed.

Next month I have an event to go to. As my days are writing working out and being a mom I don’t have too many “lunch outfits” but last year I started looking at clothes differently. There is that saying, “dress for the job you want.” I started deciding to dress for the job I want which is as an author coach(launching soon stay tuned), a motivational speaker(hence the lunch clothes) and as an author and mom. The last two I have handled. The author coach doesn’t need a new wardrobe but that motivational speaker women’s lunch part did.

So I started by heading to my closest outlet mall and went to Vince, Elie Tahari and St John. Ended up getting exactly what I needed as well as an evening gown. So that was a total splurge while also being a great bargain and I need an event to justify it but it is rare you will find one when you need one and I haven’t bought one in 12 years. It was time and a bargain. When the above photo was taken I bought all my formals at vintage stores. The 1980’s were an amazing time for finding beautiful, perfect condition 30’s and 40’s dresses and they were always my first choice. I still have that dress.


A dress mom made for me --velvet and lace
Dress made by my mom for my first role in my brother’s cub scout play
Sept 22 1990
A day when I had it all put together!
A hat my family bought me.
Colorado, December, My Life Now-Less Glamour,More Action and the hat was a gift from my family
Love that fur collar
Oscar Wilde: A Dapper writer

One Response

  1. Karen Brooks
    | Reply

    I enjoyed reading this post. I agree with you about staying in PJs or sweats while working from home. Comfort always seems to rule out fashion. When my kids were little, I would take them to school and hang out for a little while with the other moms who were my good friends. I would always be dressed like I was going somewhere while many of them were in sweats or very casual. I didn’t think anything of it until the time came when my family was moving away to New Zealand and the days were drawing near of us leaving. My friends said to me “We better step up our game now that Karen is going to be gone. She always looks so stylish.” I felt a little embarrassed that I was not like all the other mom’s who came casually to the school. However, it was important to me to look good when I went out into the world. It is part of my nature to present myself in a way that looks put together. Now that I am older, I don’t mind going out in nice workout gear with a baseball cap on without makeup but it is not my preference. I still prefer to present my best to the world. I think this is why I discovered in the last year that I absolutely love fashion and want to share it with everyone. I also love travel so of course that is part of this new journey.
    I really enjoyed reading about your days as an actress. You were a beautiful young woman and are still beautiful to this day. It is a pleasure to get to know you. xo

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