On getting shirty… and Kate di Camillo

The wolf gets out into the ‘real world’ and is forced to ponder dress code… and fingernails.

This year I’ve had to do a few presentations. I’ve been sketching live for sketchvideos.com.au, as well as giving an author/illustrator talk or two. And for ‘Book Week’ in August, I presented at seven different schools, and did a fun interview with ABC TV.

So WHAT to wear for all of this? If I could dress like Kurt Cobain everyday, all would be fine: boots, belt, old tee, unkempt hair…

The late Kurt's dress style - what's not to love?

The late Kurt’s dress style – what’s not to love?

But the wolf is 40+. Nineties-wear is indoor and dog-walking wear only. At this age, ‘structured clothing’ is apparently a better option – especially when people of all ages are going to be looking at you… expecting things… making judgements… deciding whether to have you back…


My 2014’s New Year Resolution “to be more elegant” didn’t exactly work out. At the time, the phrase “more elegant” seemed to encompass everything – from time management, to mannerisms, patience and, of course, personal grooming.

I’m still working on the patience, but have made a bit of progress on personal grooming, especially when it comes to presentations. Here is a checklist:


1: Dare to bare
ie. don’t. Minimise the amount of flesh on display. Women in skirts: ask a friend to stand behind you… then touch your toes (or try to) with your legs straight. Look at your friend’s facial expression. This will tell you if you need to choose a longer skirt. Men: make sure your socks cover the gap between shoe and trouser bottom; do the bend test and ensure that everything you want to be tucked in, stays tucked in…

2: Dangly bits
Avoid if you can. This encompasses (for women): long dangly earrings, fussy belts, necklaces, buckles on boots (they can rip your tights), and anything that might ride up.

3: Say ‘no’ to rebellious clothing
By this I mean clothing that might attempt to sabotage your presentation: tight shirts with buttons that may pop, weak zips, and (for women again) tight skirts that may split when you sit down on an unexpectedly-low chair.

4: Get decent shoes
Flat-ish, comfortable and polished the night before.

4: Teeth! Hands and nails!
Food in teeth and bad breath will – at best – distract your audience. Pack a toothbrush. Drink enough water. And for hands etc… Illustrators: clean off the worst of the inky stains. Trim and clean nails. Some people will think it’s dirt under there, rather than dirty graphite.

5: Fragrant-ness
Be fragrant without the fragrance… which can give some people headaches. Take some unscented deodorant.

6: Pockets!
Clothes with pockets that don’t ruin the line are indispensable. It is a great injustice that clothing manufacturers seem to think that women have no need to keep things on their person. I have been collecting dresses with pockets and, apart from the odd exploded pen, they’ve gone well.

Dress with pockets! Hands with dirty, painty fingernails safely in pockets. Cobain-hair semi-tamed.

Dress with pockets! Hands with dirty, painty fingernails safely in pockets. Cobain-hair semi-tamed.

7: Essential accessories
BRING YOUR GLASSES! Or hearing aids, or walking stick, or cattle prod. And whatever you need to function normally: drugs (meds), coffee, water, aspirin…

And now… Kate di Camillo or finding something that works for you…

So a couple of months ago, author Kate di Camillo came to Australia on a promo tour/author showcase etc. She charmed everyone, and a whole new audience got stuck into her books.

But the other thing that stood out for me from the visit was Kate’s shirts:

  1. Structured but casual
  2. Bright, cheerful prints – yet understated
  3. Fitted but not dangerously so…
  4. Stylish and flattering cut
  5. Quality material


Look! Aren’t they lovely? But also just right for Kate. Casual, but structured enough for a public appearance. The key, it seems, is to play to one’s strengths and play down the weaknesses. If you can pull off double denim – do double denim. Look good in jeans? Parade it!

Now I’m off to Google. ‘Denim shirts with cuffs’ coming right up. ps. I love it that Kate likes to channel Kurt now and again too:


Au revoir from Wolfie.

1 Comment

  1. September 22, 2017 - Reply

    Failure to pocketise a dress should be a white-collar crime. Also, Kurt… sigh… at least we still jave Dave (grohl).

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