First things first, you should know this: I have no sense of how to dress myself. I mean, I can button a shirt and tie my shoes. But my shirt is probably the wrong color or the wrong size (seriously, I was 40 before I got properly fitted for a bra) and my shoes probably went out of style at whatever point in the past hasn’t come back into style yet. I’m better than I used to be; I grew up always wearing oversized jeans and a baggy sweatshirt and sneakers. Then I went jock (which fit, because I was). Then I went more stylish, but all black, because I had learned something about how to fit my body, but was deathly afraid that I would choose the wrong colors and pair them with the wrong colors and I figured all-black always went together. Of course, I look like death in black, but it took me a while to figure that out too.
Bring me to today. I’ve got a bit more style sense, at least for casual clothes. I like funky things from Etsy. I like geeky things. Tights. Jewelry. Shirts with a funky skirt. But when things like conventions or meetings or parties crop up, I’m utterly lost. Still.
So when the women that I went on a recent writing retreat with were all dressed awesomely, I complimented them on it with my usual bit of envy. And I said, “Man, I wish I was rich enough to have a stylist come to my house with a dozen outfits that they think would like awesome on me and say, “Yes. No. Yes.” And they were like “StitchFix.”
Turns out, there is such a thing, called StitchFix (yes, if you click the link and sign up, I get a $25 credit, which is also awesome). Basically, you tell them your sizes and what you like (and what you like to “show off” about your body) and you make a pinterest page (here’s mine) and a stylist hand-picks 5 things that she thinks you will like. You get a box, and you get to keep what you like and send back the rest. You also get to give feedback, so ideally, each time your stylist sends you stuff, she will get better and better at choosing things for you.
Things I mentioned to my stylist:
I got my first box yesterday. Like a kid at Christmas morning, I got up and showered and … (wait, who showers on Christmas morning?). Anyway, I showered (not wanting to get the pieces all dog slobbery in case I had to send them back) and jumped out with my hair still wet and opened the box. I’ll be honest, I was really nervous. No one gets me, I thought. No, I didn’t really think that. But it did seem impossible that a stranger could look at a Pinterest page and a short profile and nail a box full of clothes for me.
And yet… well, I’ll let you read what happened.
I’ll go through the five pieces as I came upon them and tried them on.
1. Infinity Earrings
I love symbols! I have a dog named &, after all. So the infinity earrings (see the image at the top of this post, and all of the other images, since I’m wearing them eternally) are awesome. They’re a little larger that what I normally wear, but that makes them even cooler in my book, because they become a statement piece, especially with my hair up. LOVE the hammered silver, love the shape, love love love.
VERDICT: Total Keeper
2. Sailor Top
Okay, it’s not actually called that, but that’s the first thing I thought when I pulled it out of the box. The second thing I thought was, “ewww.” Stripes and the white design across the boobs and the weird tomato soup flavor are so not my thing. It feels like the kind of thing that rich people on boats wear in bad movies about rich people on boats. And I have a bit of an hourglass figure, so shirts that hang big and loose in the belly always make me feel like I got suddenly pregnant. But they recommend that you try everything on before you judge it, so I did.
And it wasn’t as awful as I expected. It was… okay. I like the shape of the top half a lot, but I’m still not keen on the blue stripes/white embellishment/bottom color. I think it’s the combination of those things that make it not seem like me. Would I ever wear this shirt? I don’t know. It looks better in the photo than it does on, I think, which maybe says I’m dysmorphic about it. I can’t tell, but it was definitely my least favorite item in the box.
VERDICT: Sending it back* (Caveat: Might keep it, but that has more to do with pricing structure than my like of this piece. See end of article).
3. Lovely Lace Top
This top hits almost all of my hot spots. Love the lace and the details. Love that it shows off my shoulders and my chest without being over the top. And the sides have a split seam that would look really cool over a different color bottom (if I hadn’t worn a black skirt in the photo, you could see them better). Fits me perfectly. It’s a nice light fabric that will be good for travel. It’s a little baggy over the belly, but the split seams help give it a lot more shape than the first one. If I had one wish for this piece, it would be: not black (I own SO much black already). Still, love it. Will totally wear it.
4. This dress
I asked for a dress that would go from casual to professional, that was sexy and still comfortable. I was thinking conventions or book readings or something else geeky and hoity-toity. This is the dress that I got. It is nothing that I would have picked out for myself, but only because I’m a scaredy cat. I think it is awesome.
Here’s why: Lace detailing. Sexy but comfy. The back detailing is amazing. It makes my butt look kind of awesome. Fits nicely, and is a bit stretchy.
It is, overall, less casual than I typically choose for dresses, so this is the kind of thing I’d really only wear at conventions or readings, but that’s okay. It will be great for those, I think. Also, you kind of have to wear heels with it, and I’m more of a boot girl. But I do own one pair of black heels. I’m a little worried that it might wrinkle while in a suitcase (I don’t actually know how to iron), but it’s hard to tell at this stage. My only real problem: It’s a little loose around the chest/arm area, but mostly that’s because I do NOT have a bra that works in this dress. It’s got a very unusual shape to it (even my t-backed bra stuck out), so I’ll have to buy sticks-ons or something.
5. The OH MY GOD blazer
First: This freaking blazer is made of sweatshirt material. I’m not kidding. It is soft and fluffy and stretchy and I want to pet it and hug it and squeeze it and name it thank you.
The sleeves are 3/4, and pleated. They also have stripes on the inside if you wanted to fold them up. It looks fitted and professional, but is more comfortable than sin. No wrinkles. This might be THE BEST traveling jacket I have ever owned. I don’t usually go for grey, but in this case I like that it’s a really soft grey, which means you could wear it with almost any color and it would look incredible. I’m wearing the black top under it in these photos, and I think it’s a nice combo.
That’s the whole box (well, they also send you a really cool note from your stylist along with some suggestions on how to wear each piece). I’d say I made out like a bandit.
Now, here’s my promised caveat on the sailor shirt: StitchFix offers you a LARGE discount if you buy all five pieces. In fact, it’s such a large discount that I would save twice as much money by keeping all five than I would be sending back the shirt that I didn’t really like. I’m not sure what to do with that because I love everything else. So maybe I will keep it and experiment with wearing something outside my comfort zone, or maybe I will give it away to someone who will love it.
Overall, this was awesome. In general, the pieces are a little more classic than I normally go for but I think that when paired with the funky stuff I already own (like these or this), it will allow me to create a mix of casual yet professional, geeky yet pulled-together.
And of course I’ll show my stylist this blog post, so that she can see what I loved and why, and can build me a new box of even more cool stuff.
My hopes for next time: Maybe a cool skirt for spring? Something for up top in a great coral or turquoise or ?? that makes my skin and eyes look amazing? And generally more of this stuff that is comfy, casual yet looks awesome and travels well.
Feedback welcome. I have a few more days to give feedback on this box, so if you loved or hated something, let me know. Also, as I mentioned, if you want to try out StitchFix for yourself and you use this link to join, I’ll get $25 off, which is pretty awesome!
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
P.S. A few things I forgot to mention: You can get a box every few weeks, every month, every other month, or every three months. Your choice. And the total for the styling and all five pieces was under $180.00 (with the dress being the most expensive). It’s a little more than I normally pay for clothes, but I didn’t have to go shopping and spend hours trying to find the one thing the I actually liked and then try it on under bad lights and discover that I hated it. And that is worth A LOT in my busy life.
A few weeks ago, the very talented erotica author Alison Tyler and I were chatting via Twitter about manners for creative business people on the internet. And then we got talking about creating a book about said manners (don’t let the hoity-toity literary magazines fool you with their articles about how fantastic book ideas come about over tea and crumpets; in my experience, the vast majority of great creative ideas are born when smart people with no filters imbibe too much alcohol or coffee or both, then get on the internet and start going, “You know what we should do?!” “Yeah!” “A book about manners!” “Yeah!” and then they write up a fake table of contents, going “Yeah!” and then suddenly the world stops and they’re all like, “Crap, this is good. We should really make this happen.”).
Since I don’t have time to write a book at the moment, I’m going to write a blog post. About manners. For creative business people. On the Internet. Because: You, as a creative person, as a business person, as a real live person of any walk of life, should know how to conduct yourself online (and truly, elsewhere too). This information might become a book. Or an ongoing series. Or maybe just a one-time rant that will surely make someone on the Internet hate me, because they’re going to say, “I don’t need to be nice. It’s the fucking Internet for fuck’s sake. Who does she think she is, Miss Fucking Manners?”
Yes. Yes, I do think I’m Miss Fucking Manners. See image below for proof.
Onward. Haters can stop reading right now. We don’t want you to learn this stuff anyway, because then you can keep outing yourselves so beautifully with your utter lack of manners and we can all lock you out of our virtual houses once and for all.
So here’s the list (more to come, maybe, as I think of them). And of course, this list isn’t just for the internet. It’s good for conventions, workplaces, daily life, and anywhere that you might interact with other human beings:
Be Fucking Respectful. As Wil Wheaton is fond of saying, “Don’t be a dick.” But I say better yet, go a step beyond that. Play nice. BE nice. Appreciate people for what they bring to the table. See people as human beings with hearts and loved ones and illnesses and fears and dreams. Be willing to accept that someone else doesn’t share your viewpoint. Respect that viewpoint if you can. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe people are accidental assholes. It happens. If you can’t say anything nice to someone, then find someone else that you can say something nice to. Which brings me to:
Say Nice Things To/About the People Who Deserve Them. Love another author’s work? Tell them. Think someone makes beautiful art or said something particularly smart or is doing an amazing world-changing thing? Tell them. Tell them. Tell them. It’s so easy. And it makes the world a better place. Also, share what you love. It helps spread good things, like a virus that you actually want to catch.
Tell Dicks to Fuck Off. Being respectful only works IF the other people are also being respectful to everyone else. Once they cross that line, I think it’s okay to tell them to fuck off. It’s also okay to just leave the interaction. Do what’s best for you. In video games, there’s a saying–“Stay out of the fire” or “Don’t stand in the bad stuff” — that is used when someone stands right smack dab in the middle of whatever is hurting them (usually fire or poison emitted from a horrible creature) until they die. Don’t do that, unless you have the appropriate armor and weapons. Otherwise, it’s okay to get the hell out.
Have the Appropriate Armor and Weapons. Being a person is hard. Being a person on the internet is harder. Build your armor if you can. It helps you maintain dignity, respect, kindness, and human empathy. My armor is a mish-mash of self-respect, self-confidence, experience, perspective, and a small army of friends who tell me what’s what. My weapons are kindness, respect, human empathy, and my brain.
Shut the Hell Up Once in a While. Spoiler alert: You are not the most interesting/informed/educated/experienced person in every forum/chat room/virtual space. Yes, you might be the most (fill in the blank) person in one particular room, but not in ALL the rooms. It’s just not possible. Other people are smart and talented and experienced too. So shut up and listen. People hate blowhards. Unless you’re teaching or giving a lecture, if you’ve talked or typed for more than a few minutes and no one else has said anything, shut up. They’re quiet because a. you haven’t given them the chance to say anything with all your ranting and b. they’re now not paying one iota of attention to you because they’ve zoned out and are thinking about tacos, sex, or puppies.
Don’t Burn Your Damn Bridges. I don’t consider myself a petty person, but if you start talking online about how shitty my work is, how much you hate my writing, or how my game sucks (unless you are doing an actual review, in which case, criticize away!), I will remember it. If you are an asshole to my friends or colleagues, I will remember it. If you are nothing but negative about everything, I will remember. Everyone else will remember it too. Because the internet isn’t a dinner party. It’s a public megaphone with a recording device attached, and everyone will know that you said that shit FOREVER. I suppose this isn’t a big deal if you’re just a person, because people will just label you an asshole and move on. But if you’re trying to make it as a business and/or as a creative person, you’ve just lost a whole lot of opportunities. This is especially true if you trash me or my friends and then come to me and ask me for a job. Because I will laugh in your face (silently, and then I will send you a polite “Thanks, but no thanks,” email because I am Miss Fucking Manners.”).
Learn these Words: Please, Thank You, I’m Sorry, You’re Awesome. Use them whenever necessary. Which is about three times more often than you think.
Please share this if you think it will help someone.
Thank you for reading.
I’m sorry for all the times that I forgot to mind my manners.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
P.S. Got a manners tip? Share it in the comments!
I was brought up by hippies. That means a lot of things. We raised our own meat and grew our own food. My dad had (has, truly) long hair and had a record collection like you wouldn’t believe. I was taught to believe in taking care of the world and the community, in doing my best, and in a weird combination of manners and kickass. But mostly I was taught to give back.
Sometimes that means kindness. Other times it means helping out those in need. And sometimes it just means sharing when you have an abundance of things.
I currently have extra copies of three of my recent books: Lure of Dangerous Women and As Kinky As You Wanna Be and Geek Love. And I have a dearth of new things to read. So let’s help each other (and other authors) out with a trade.
Here’s how it works: Take a moment to think about the best author or book that you’ve discovered that you think doesn’t get the attention that it deserves (Any author or book or genre. Just don’t choose me or my books–that’s cheating. And don’t choose yourself or your books–that’s jerky). Write a comment on this post about said author or book, telling everyone why they’re so awesome. Share this blog post with people so that other people know about all of these great authors and books. Read the other comments (I rarely tell someone to read the comments, but in this case, that’s the important part; how else will you find that great author or book that you’ve been missing).
On January 27th, I’ll do a random dice roll and give away three signed books (winners will get their choice of either Lure or Kinky or Geek Love). Now, go forth and spread the love!
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
I’m a gaming guest of honor at Confusion this year, which means I’m heading off tomorrow morning for the very cold side of the country (if you wonder what very cold means in this context, it’s currently 13 degrees there. So that’s a lot of holy fucking brrrrs that are about to happen). There is an incredible array of talent at this convention — writers like Ted Chiang, Karen Lorde, Mary Robinette Kowal, Steven Erickson, Colin McComb, Cherie Priest, Myke Cole, and many more (someone else kindly made a full list, with links, so I will link that here).
Here is my schedule for the weekend, if you want to come and see me sounding like I know what I’m talking about.*
*Important note: I am shy and introverted, and there’s a good chance that if I have only met you online, I don’t actually know what you look like. So if you see me walking around not talking to you, it’s because I don’t recognize you; please don’t hesitate to come and say hello. That photo up top is what I typically look like, so you can find me. Only more awake (hopefully) and with some actual make up on and stuff so that I look like a grownup person.
**Important note 2: All of the above does NOT apply at the dessert reception. If are are between me and dessert, I can’t be responsible for your safety.
|Friday||7:00 PM||Michigan||Opening Ceremonies|
|Friday||8:00 PM||Great Room||Dessert Reception|
|Friday||10:00 PM||Southfield||What Makes a Sex Scene Suck|
|Saturday||11:00 AM||Rotunda||Reading #7: Cook/Germain|
|Saturday||1:00 PM||Huron||So You Want to Make Games, Huh?|
|Saturday||3:00 PM||Dearborn||Are We Living in a Golden Age of Gaming?|
|Saturday||4:00 PM||Erie, Huron, Ontario||Autograph Session|
|Sunday||10:00:00||Model T||Kaffeeklatsch with Shanna Germain & Monte Cook|
|Sunday||11:00 AM||Southfield||How to Kick your Start|
|Sunday||12:00 PM||Southfield||Monte Cook & Shanna Germain Interview|
|Sunday||1:00 PM||Warren||Post-Binary SF|
|Sunday||3:00 PM||Michigan||Closing Ceremonies|