Dressing an Author


Er… I Mean, “How Do We Picture Authors Dressed?”

By Jeff Salter

After I saw the magazine ad posted by our Monday Fox, it dawned on me that I actually do have a mental picture of what famous authors look like… at least in the sense of their apparel. Mostly my assessment has come from dust jacket photos (which, of course, don’t always depict that individual in the act of writing, but DO most often have that individual carefully posed).

Most of those images I recall were of male authors sitting back in their study chairs typically smoking a pipe or cigarette. Their clothing? Well, often a suit or sports jacket… or sometimes a sweater.

You didn’t see many bare arms in author photos unless the subject was Ernest Hemingway.


Samuel Clemens was a (sometimes cynical) humorist, so the well-known photo of him writing in bed was surely his way of poking his reading public in the eyeball.


An image that jumps to mind of female authors is the venerable photo of Barbara Cartland, dressed to the nines, in her lushly appointed parlor, holding some teeny canine pet. Cartland appeared moments away from sweeping out the door to a grand ball.


One of my favorite author photos is of my hometown hero Walker Percy, who is seated (relaxing) in an Adirondack chair in his Covington (LA) back yard. I searched for that picture but couldn’t locate it [though I found a similar one where he’s relaxing on a small bench].

I’ve had a few photos taken of me while I was actually writing but none of these are handy and none have ever been transformed into digital images. You’d get a kick out of the one (1973) of me in my barracks room at Thule AB (Greenland) because I was sitting back in my chair and smoking a pipe! Ha. [I’m also wearing a new bathrobe my wife sent me while I was at that remote station.] Two un-posed photos I recall are one from my perch at the Hammond Daily Star (1969) – me in short-sleeved shirt and tie – and one at my editor’s desk at the Cannon AFB (NM) Mach Meter (1972) — me in my “1505” khaki uniform. Wish I could locate those pictures to share with youse guys.

More to the topic

So, for today, I guess I’ll focus on what I’m typically wearing as a retired librarian writing (more-or-less) full-time — i.e., the past 10.5 years in Possum Trot KY.


Okay, here is the shocker: on warm days I’m wearing cargo shorts, socks and slippers, and a t-shirt.


On colder days, I switch from cargo shorts to fleece britches (what some people used to call gym warm-ups), and add a long-sleeved Henley for my upper body. If it’s really cold inside, I’ll add a blue denim shirt but leave it un-buttoned.

There, my secret is revealed. And now that there’s so little remaining mystery in my writing apparel… maybe my leagues of readers and fans will buy more of my books!


If you’re an author, what do YOU wear while writing?
If you’re a reader, what do you imagine your favorite author wears while writing?

[JLS # 319]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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13 Responses to Dressing an Author

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Yoga pants and a t-shirt. That about sums it up for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmmm….the range of colors for your t-shirts is inspiring! Ha!!
    Comfort is the name of the game. At home, I’m usually in workout gear because I try to start my day out with a walk and weights. On days that I go to Starbucks to write with Jenn, I’m in jeans, a few layers of shirts, and I have my pillow.
    The reason?
    The air conditioning (I mean the refrigeration), and very hard wooden chairs (my tushy is delicate 🙂 ). So- not sexy and intriguing, but comfy clothes help get words on the page!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      so, you and Jenn still hook up at the coffee shop to write?
      I still don’t think I’d get much writing done — what with the conversation and my tendency to watch people come and go.
      Yes, comfort is the byword.


  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Your color palette makes it impossible to mismatch! So you wear fleece on WARM days? That surprises me, since you’re a lot farther south than I am. We haven’t had any sub-zero temps here yet, so I haven’t worn any fleece this year. When I get too warm I fall asleep – and that’s not good for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d love to see the picture with the pipe and bathrobe, Jeff! When we talked earlier in the week about you having the seemingly ‘de rigueur’ corduroy jacket with leather/suede patched elbows, I NEARLY mentioned a ‘smoking jacket’…the bathrobe comes close!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joselyn says:

    Danielle Steel’s author pictures are often like Barbara Cartland’s. They somehow coordinate with the setting of the book they are on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I can’t recall Danielle’s in particular. The reason B. Cartland stick out to me is because my M-I-L had EVERY one of the Cartland novels and re-read them repeatedly. She later donated that entire collection to the library where I worked.


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