Monday, December 5, 2011

Dressing for Success...Sci-Fi Romance Style


Let me share something fun I've been up to--putting together a book signing costume. No, I'm sorry to report I have no news on the publishing front yet, but that doesn't stop me from thinking positive and looking to the future.

At last years' RWA book signing event, a peer commented that she wished the SFR/CDSF authors would dress the part, so she could have a clue who is kicking out the spacegoing romance fare among all those hundreds of authors.

Hmmmmm, I thought. Now that would be fun! Come in character...literally. What a great way for the authors in our subgenre to stand out.

Since then, I've devoted a bit of time (a very little bit in between writing, polishing, revising, editing, querying, platform-building and entering contests) to scour the web for parts to a subgenre specific (and somewhat novel specific) costume.

But where in the galaxy do you look for space age garb, ray blasters and like paraphernalia?

eBay (and a little imagination) is my friend!

I found searches using keywords "steampunk" and "futuristic" and occasionally "space pirate" netted the best results in finding the sorts of things I was looking for. What started out as a costume search and acquire mission for my female P2PC pilot--Drea--soon led to stumbling on some apropos items for a Katrina (3rd novel) costume, too. And that naturally expanded into a few costume pieces for Lissa--video reporter and stalked-keeper-of-dangerous-secret extraordinaire from The Outer Planets.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my adventures in costume hunting and the resulting finds with you.

Drea (heroine of P2PC)

Drea is an independent P2PC (Planet to Planet Courier) so a futuristic Fed Ex driver to the stars. (Or so she claims. *devious laugh* ) Pseudo military attire seemed a good bet as a starting point. I still had a pair of black tactical uniform pants from my reserve LEO days (and...OMG!...they still fit! *happy dance*) so I had the beginnings of my P2PC costume gathering dust--and just waiting to be noticed--in my closet. Hello there!

For the top, I found this great steampunk/star pirate vest on one of the steampunk seller sites. It has silver buttons-and-chains closure and some attractive pleating on the front.  Way cool!  Since it's snug and sleeveless, I paired it with a black long-sleeved t-shirt top. Nice, but the uniform needs something to break up all that black!

I had a couple of thoughts there. Shiny stuff and lots of colorful patches.

Shiny Stuff

I found this sleek cut-out, studded top at Boston Proper with the intent of wearing it to last years' FF&P gathering. That didn't go as planned, so it's now an alternate P2PC top that I think will look great under the vest. (I confess, I chickened out wearing this peekaboo top by itself to the FF&P Gathering. What can I say? Fail! hehe. I think wearing the vest over it might give me the necessary courage to venture out in public en costoom. :D


I had to get a little inventive here, since patches for entities and planets of registry in the year 3500 don't really exist yet. Here's a passage from the novel that gave me some inspiration:

Sair’s gaze settled on the registration numbers and bright red diamond insignia. Licensed out of the Azures, she carried the registry of preference for half the pirates in the galaxy. He blew out his breath. No kid of Mennelsohn’s would resort to piracy, would he? Zaviar Mennelsohn must have left a fortune to his heirs.

A search for a "red diamond patch" netted this US Army Class A Fifth Infantry Division patch. Perfectamundo!

Then I found this military patch to signify Drea's home planet of LaGuardia, a planet with an insignia of a flame inside a pyramid. Hmm, that sounds like a tough order, yes? I didn't think I'd find anything close.

Oh ye of little faith! Seek and ye shall find. This US Army Class A patch for the 7th Army turned out to be a great representation. Nifty, yes?

Now I needed something to represent Drea's line of work--a P2PC.  Maybe something with stars or planets or suggesting space flight. I ended up finding two patches that seemed to fill the bill, and since I discovered a second forgotten long-sleeved black t-shirt in my Summer Clothes box in the garage, I ordered a pair of each.

This is a color error patch for the 1st Space Brigade. Yes, really--such a unit actually exists and they do have a mission in space. I love the colors in this patch and was also happy that the color error makes it unique.

Here's a YouTube introduction of the 1st Space Brigade and an article if you want to know more about what they do:

You Tube Introduction to 1st Space Brigade

Developing Doctrine for the First Space Brigade

I also coveted this US Air Force Far East Gold Wings patch. The wings, sun and stars seem like a good fit for a space courier, que no?

Toss in a few additional patches for color and effect:
I thought these Weyland-Yatani wing patches from Aliens 3 would make a good addition. Maybe as cuffs?  What do you think?

I heart these blue dragon patches. Not sure how I'll use them yet, but possibly the pair running up the sleeves? or a single one up the middle of the back?...or just framed on my wall. Do dragons = space? They do in my universe. :) Thy could also represent an Anne McCaffrey tribute of sorts. (RIP *sniff*) I also collect dragons and these are gorgeous. Couldn't pass them up.


This P2PC captain can't very well go around bare foot, can she? Deck boots were in order. Black with a not-too-tall heel (can't see a star captain tippy-toeing around deck while she's outflying and outsmarting the bad guys attempting to board her ship and seize her...contraband). I wanted the kind of boots that say "A woman's place is on the Flight Deck" more than those pointy heel little numbers befitting a Seven of Nine catsuit. I was thinking something along the lines of a Harley Davidson motorcycle boot? Maybe with a bit of silver bling and buckles to match the vest. Eureka! Another eBay find and oh yes, yes, yes! There they iz.  (Can I haz pleez?)

I even found a touch of added bling to go with them. Boot chains with pyramid studs that match the peekabo top above.

Love how the silvery sparklies set off all that black, and you never know when they might come in handy as a weapon of opportunity for the savvy space express pilot, right?

Now I just needed a few finishing touches.

My P2PC pilot definitely totes some righteous personal armament--for self-preservation in the wild and predator-rich space lanes, ya understand--so back to one of the steampunk shops to pick up a grommeted belt with double thigh holster (I decided to only use one thigh holster for the outfit)

(Shadowy steampunk guy is kind of fun to look at, too.)

...and a sweet customized dual-action taza ray blaster to park in the holster.

And what pseudo-military P2PC captain's outfit would be complete without a set of silver Star Dog Tags to complete the ensemble. Shiny!

So there's my P2PC Circa 3500 costume. Space pirates and galactic superpowers, beware!

I'd love to hear what you think? Does it work? Anything missing? Have you ever put together a book-signing or Con-attending SFR costume? What did you include? Would you like to see SFR authors dress the part or do you think authors should dress traditionally and let their books speak for themselves?


  1. I love it! But I think authors should be entitled to wear what they like and not dress up just for fans expectations.
    Having said that, some of my characters' outfits are based on stuff I'd like to wear myself but I'm not quite brave enough to try, so a book signing would be a great excuse to kind of fulfil that fantasy. :)

  2. LOL Exactly, Pippa. You outed me.

    I've always wanted an excuse to dress as an independant starship pilot. Guilty, guilty, guilty. :)

  3. I like it Laurie! You have put a great deal of thought into this. Fun stuff! Dressing for a signing is a nice idea. But I hope SFR authors don't go too overboard and look like we've just returned from a Star Trek convention! Not really a bad thing-- but we do want readers to see our talent first. But your costume looks great and not to outlandish for a signing. Go and dress up!! I think you'll look great.

  4. Thanks, Kaye. It has been a lot of fun to put together. And I can tone it up or down as the venue dictates. (Cons being a little more costume-friendly than, say, the big literary book signing at RWA nationals.)

  5. Love it, Laurie, very fun post. Fun to experience through someone else since my heroines wear pretty much the same clothes I do. :)

  6. Thanks, Sharon. It's been fun acquiring the pieces.

    Hmmm, maybe your book signing costume could be a lab coat for GP? :)

  7. Really want to see you model that costume, Laurie. It sounds like you had a lot of fun finding all the pieces. I'm afraid my characters mostly run around in tee shirts and jeans, pretty much my own uniform.

  8. Thanks, Barbara! I've never seen one like it anywhere else. David gave it his seal of approval too. LOL

    Kay, I'll see if I can get a pic once I get all the patches sewn on. Maybe I'll do a follow-up post with photos down the road.


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