Writers are the force behind the books, which means that not many people see them. But writers still gotta wear clothes, which means learning how to dress like a writer can help you dress for the job you want.
There is no set rules for putting together an artist outfit, but writers need to dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable sitting at a desk for hours, or huddling over a notebook while they scribble. There’s just something that can happen to a writer’s brain when they feel they look the part.
(Don’t ask me how many times I “cured” my writer’s block in undergrad by putting on a scarf and some dark lipstick. It was a lot. This is why scarves and dark lipstick make great gifts for writers. It puts you in a weird, writerly headspace. I don’t know why it works, but it does.)
If you’d like to learn more about how to dress like a writer, it’s important to pick a writerly aesthetic. I have five that I recommend, but you can easily mix and match these, and if we’re being honest, it’s not like writers can be held accountable for their fashion crimes.
So take a look at these aesthetics, and do with them what you will.
How to Dress Like a Writer
There are various writer aesthetics out there. Whether you want to know how to dress like a poet or a professor at a liberal arts school, these looks can suit a lot of writers.
001: The Desk Goblin
Hello. This is me. I’m a desk goblin.
If the weather is cool, you can catch me in a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie hunched over my desk and typing like a fiend. If the weather is hot, you can catch me in a pair of running shorts and a t-shirt similarly hunched.
The desk goblin doesn’t care about how they look. To them, writing is a solitary activity and no one is going to see them do it. Their clothes are perfect for never leaving the house, and also for taking a nap between writing sprints.
The desk goblin likes soft clothing. The more comfortable and pajama-like, the better. For this reason, the desk goblin struggles to show up consistently on Instagram. They know they don’t look great, and when you compare their attire to the other writerly aesthetics, they know they’re lacking.
But they don’t mind so much, simply because their clothing enables them to write a lot as well as nap a lot.
002: The Dark Academic
Who isn’t enamored with dark academia? This writer is all about looking like they went to a prep school or Ivy League college back in 1952. It’s not an easy to achieve aesthetic, especially if you live in a place with higher temperatures. But it always looks classy.
Sweaters over button-downs, blazers with crest patches, and various tweeds are all you need to be a dark academic writer. And if you have a nice old blank journal, bring it a long. It’s perfect for completing the look.
And yeah, writing in a modern laptop is probably how most writers do their work. But the dark academic needs the notebook, and they need it in the darkest corner of the library stacks where they’re surrounded by cloth-bound volumes with moldering pages.
Bonus points if they can find a table next to some gothic-style windows and the rain is pelting the panes of glass.
003: The Retreatist
Writing retreats are the best, and the retreatist knows this. This writer looks super outdoorsy, and it’s all so they can get to the remote little cabin in the woods and slowly write one true sentence after another.
Flannel, denim, and brown leather boots can be found in this writer’s closet. And all the clothes are super functional. You will not find designer labels here, nor will you find cheap department store options. The retreatist knows that clothing quality is important, so they purchase their items from the sporting goods outdoor section, or possibly the hardware and feed store.
This writer isn’t just about the aesthetic, though. The retreatist knows that a writing retreat deserves a sort of spiritual discipline that can only be maintained by enjoying the outdoors regularly. To this writer, the writing is second and trying to go all Thoreau out in the woods comes first.
004: The Spiritual Scribe
If I have a second aesthetic, it’s this one, and I only adopt it when I have to leave the house.
The spiritual scribe loves flowy fabrics and various boho accessories. This writer probably has a ton of crystals and tarot cards in their work area too. (Guilty…as you know I’m all about how to outline a novel with tarot cards.)
This writer approaches writing the way a medium approaches their work. This writer is a channel, and all the scarves, patterned fabrics, and colorful beads and bracelets really enhance the look. You can catch this writer at their desk with a lit candle and a cup of coffee that they stir three times clockwise with a cinnamon stick.
005: Leather-Bound and Classic
This aesthetic is a cousin to the dark academic, but it’s a lot less intense. The leather-bound and classic look is all about looking bookish and rumpled. Sure, they may use the same tie or vest the dark academic does, but they do so in a playful manner.
This writer is less about being serious and more about enjoying the process. There is an ease to how they do things, and in many cases, they come from a certain level of privilege that means they don’t have to work or worry about money.
Even so, they still want to have a good time, and they’re all about giving it the old college try. This writer is reading if they aren’t writing, just enjoying the life of being a writer, and looking like an ad for J. Crew.
What’s Your Writer Aesthetic?
How do you like to dress as a writer? What part of your wardrobe signals you’re a writer? Are you also a desk goblin?