In business, it is commonly accepted that you ‘dress to impress’. In screenwriting however, a similar dress code does not exist and it is left open to personal opinion as to what will make an impression at an important meeting. James talked about the latest screenwriter fashions in a recent post so I thought it would be worth picking up on the topic for a few more moments of consideration.
Obviously, what it all boils down to is personal taste and whatever makes you feel comfortable about your appearance. There’s no point wearing a suit that looks and feels incongruous to your form and personality. But you don’t want to go in wearing your jaded tracksuit bottoms and your grubby Metallica ’89 tour T-shirt just because you feel most at ease in these comfortable garments. Or maybe you do, it’s your call (but probably not best advised).
If you’ve got an important meeting with an agent or an executive, think of it like meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the very first time and you’ve been invited over for Sunday lunch. Agents/execs/commissioning editors are professional folk who have to look and act the part from their side of the desk. While most are easygoing, charming and intelligent people, they don’t want to be confronted with a new writer that’s fresh from Stig’s dump. They expect a certain casual and informal look but they also expect a bit of personal pride and basic hygiene!
At home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wearing your PJs or dressing gown all day. I recommend getting out of this habit. Getting washed and dressed like you’re going to work has a significant and psychological effect that is much removed from the yawning transition from your bed to computer desk.
For meetings, dress simple and smart, and in keeping with the general style of your wardrobe. The latest fashions allow for all sorts of godawful ideas to pass off as ‘hip clothing’, and you may well have some of these offending garments in your possession, but basic matching colours can be a real plus in presenting yourself in the right way.
What you want to avoid is looking too contrived or trendy or scruffy. Some people carry this type of clothing off quite well but if you’re trying too hard, it’s going to show.
Over-contrived: Wearing clothes that belie your age and appearance. I’ve seen them in receptions and at meetings everywhere. The mid30s-40s writer with the combat trousers and T-shirt, still being hip with the kids, but with a healthy gut sagging over their sorry belt.
Over-trendy: You don’t want to look like a young, Soho TV researcher. Their uniform usually consists of combat trousers (again!), a post-modern T-shirt endorsing some slogan or 80s gimmick, cool square shades, gel in the hair and a mobile phone attached to their strap on the front. Give me a gun.
Over-scruffy: A couple of days’ stubble, T-shirt and jeans generally look the part but sweat stains under the arms, an untidy beard and food-marked trousers with a fly half-undone probably takes the Michael a bit.
So there you have it, the lowdown on what to wear and how to wear it. Less Trinny and Susannah, more Queer Eye for the Screenwriter Guy.