The one where I am invited to speak at a conference and have a wardrobe crisis

I have been asked to speak at a conference.

*pause for ‘ooohs!’*

On the 10th of November I will be getting up disgustingly early to go to London for Mumsnet Blogfest to be part of their keynote panel. The theme of the discussion is ‘finding you voice’ – something I don’t normally struggle with – and with me on the panel will be real actual writers like Zoe Williams and Jeanette Winterson.

Real Actual Writers.

*anxious sideways look*

Rather than thinking though about what I might say to appear witty, charming and intelligent, my first thought was ‘what on earth will I wear?’ An elegant, well-tailored outfit, as any woman will tell you, is the key to any occasion. Unfortunately, I am not any woman.

To illustrate my point, I look for Bee. I find her on the sofa, watching TV, sniffing, surrounded by lockets and used tissues.* “If you had to describe my fashion sense in three words,” I ask, “what would you say?”

She looks me up and down and raises her eyebrows.

“Too jazzy,” she starts, but then, realising that means she will have already used up two-thirds of her insults, she begins again. “Jazzy, infantile,” she pauses, struggling to find a word that suitably sums me up, “and uncoordinated.”

Point duly illustrated.

The trouble is that I hate shopping for clothes. I am rubbish at it. Apart from the horror of catching sight of my bottom reflected in four different mirrors simultaneously, I just don’t know what goes with what, and what is appropriate for any given occasion. I thought then that perhaps I could have a little browse online, and you could tell me which outfit would be best for my conference appearance. I want to appear clever and funny, quirky yet stylish.

Dresses are usually a good option, as they eliminate the risk of clashing top and bottom halves. I really like this, (I’m sure I read somewhere that ‘floral’ is a thing), but wonder if it might be a little on the ‘jazzy’ side for a day time conference?

"floral dress"

This could be me, turning up a little late – “Oh, I’m so sorry! My train was delayed! It’s such a hilarious story! Mwahahaha!”

Or I could go for a suit? Perhaps too formal – I’m not sure it screams ‘witty, creative writer.’


Can you even imagine my thighs in such light coloured trousers? Oh my goodness me no.

Or I could just do the classic jeans and sparkly top combo, but perhaps that’s not quite jazzy enough?


The jeans are fine, but how on earth do I get my hair to look like that?

Or I could just wear something I own already and rely on my sparkly personality to carry me through?

I’ll get my credit card…

*She has a cold, not some sort of fetish.

All images courtesy of Next.



  1. Arabella Bazley
    27 September, 2012 / 6:51 am

    Love the dress, there is no such thing as too sparkly in London and if you keep away from the cardy you won’t come across as “Jean” from Eastenders. If you need to wear comfortable flats, Doc Martins would not even raise an eyelid. What does Bee think??? All that said, if your speech is like your blog….. a potato sack would dull into insignificance.

  2. 27 September, 2012 / 10:36 am

    OK, here’s what you could do. Get yourself to any John Lewis store, book an appointment with their personal wardrobe team, tell them your aim and see what they come up with. There is no charge, no obligation to buy, and if you get something home and decide it’s just not you, you can return it, no questions asked. My experience was that they will even suggest which shop to go to get what you need if there is nothing there that fits the bill. If you happen to be in London before the date of the conference I can recommend the Peter Jones JL on Sloane Square because I went through this process myself there a couple of years back and still wear the dresses they suggested now. Drop me a note and I can even give you the name of the woman I dealt with who is AWESOME.

    (This is NOT a sponsored comment…)

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

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