(from the State Library of New South Wales. There they are required to dress much more professionally than we do.)
As an author, how formally should you dress when meeting with your publisher?
The two words that you want to think about while contemplating this question are: Situational Appropriateness.
Depending on what you’re meeting with your publisher about — and what people at your publishing company that you’re meeting — the answer to this question can range from ‘pretty informal’ to ‘very formal.’
Probably always you want to make sure you’re wearing something appropriate for public viewing, of course. Clothes with giant (accidental) holes, especially in revealing areas may not be your best bet for meeting with your publisher. Think about what kind of appearance you’re trying to project: if it’s ‘I’m a person who can barely dress myself,’ you’re probably good with whatever (though still avoid hoop skirts and hot pants — not a good look on anyone!). If you’re going for ‘I’m a professional artist who will turn in my book on time and answer e-mails promptly,’ consider dressing in something sufficiently formal that your publisher will not be worried about your professionalism, sanity, and/or color-matching skills.
Have you met your editor in person? Do you know that she dresses pretty informally in the office?
Are you meeting with with your editor to discuss something routine (checking changes on proofs; turning in a batch of art) where you know you’re not going to be in a high-pressure situation and feel uncomfortable to possibly be dressed more informally than the person you’re talking to? This is a good time to wear informal clothing.
Have you met your editor in person? Does he dress somewhat formally or extremely formally in the office? That may mean that he expects you to be similarly formal when you’re meeting with him. Probably you should not show up in jeggings.
Are you meeting with other people in your publishing house besides your editor — the publisher, directors, VPs, or presidents of parts (or all) of the company? Even if your editor dresses informally at the office, those people may not; you may want to adjust your clothing similarly. Are you discussing something that may turn into a high-pressure situation — contract amendments, creative decisions that you feel strongly about (and differently from your editor), etc.? You may want to wear something that you feel suits the tenor of the subject being discussed. That’ll be a visual cue to your editor that you’re taking this conversation seriously.
Are you going to an awards ceremony or a high profile public or private event? You may want to ditch the jeans (however nice they are) and go in for at the very least a pair of slacks and a jacket.
Some type of formal attire may also be necessary for meeting with higher-ups at your publishing house — if you have a meeting scheduled with some and you’re nervous about what to wear, just check in with your editor and ask.
Pro Tip for :01 Creators: So, I’m sitting here in my office as I write this. I had two meetings today, one with a large group and one with my boss, both of which I had to be relatively presentable for. I’ve got on a shirt, a sweater, a good pair of jeans (no holes!) and a decent pair of converse sneakers. It’s pretty casual, but not really something I’d wear to do manual labor or lounge around the house. Feel free to consider this as a guide when you’re planning to come see us in the office.