A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Frocks, PJ’s and shoe shame by Clara Vulliamy


At a school author event once, I asked the children if they had any questions for me, expecting the usual ‘how many books have you made?’ sort of thing.
A serious looking girl put up her hand and said,
‘So, we have read that you like cardigans. Are you wearing your BEST cardigan for us today?’
It was a game-changer. I realised that they had looked forward to my visit, and had done their research; it’s a performance, and they jolly well deserved some attention paid to the costume cupboard. So now I ALWAYS dress up.

I do love a frock. I have frocks with owl fabric, cats, more owls, teacups.
I have themed accessories…


and a collection of rings made from dolls house dishes. The children like to study these very much indeed.


But there was another vitally important thing I needed to know, and I learned this from the very elegant and gorgeous Rachel Gimbert (@rachelgimbert) from Penguin Random House.
We are mostly sitting on a chair or standing. The audience are mostly small and sitting on the floor. They have a direct line of sight to our feet.
When Rachel arrived to accompany me at an event, the children’s mouths fell open. Not only did she bring a spectacular Dixie cake but was also wearing her Dixie-themed shoes…


I looked down at my shabby paint-splattered plimsolls,


and felt very ashamed.

But that’s all being out and about.
For work-wear, when I have my head in some writing or drawing and my only commute is from one room in the house to another, I mostly wear…


my pyjamas.

claraPortraitClara Vulliamy
I was born in London, daughter of author illustrator Shirley Hughes and architect John Vulliamy. My first experience of making pictures was being allowed to use up my Mum’s paints at the end of the day, which was like scraping the icing out of the bowl after baking.
I studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, The Ruskin and The Royal Academy. After graduating I began illustrating in newspapers and magazines, and doing a weekly cartoon in The Guardian. I started writing and illustrating children’s books when I had a family of my own, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve made around 30 books, including The Bear with Sticky Paws, Lucky Wish Mouse and Martha and the Bunny Brothers.
I live in Twickenham with my husband, our two grown-up children and a gang of cheeky guinea pigs.

5 comments on “Frocks, PJ’s and shoe shame by Clara Vulliamy

  1. marjma2014
    March 18, 2015

    Ah, a lesson learnt, wear cute shoes. I’m with you regarding wearing pj’s while writing in the house! Often end up having to answer the door to the Avon lady in writer’s pj’s!

  2. Pingback: frocks pj’s and shoe shame | Sunny side up!

  3. claravulliamy
    March 18, 2015

    Yes, cute shoes are an absolute necessity.
    Embarrassing, isn’t it? It comes across as deeply lazy, though we certainly are not!

  4. Sara O'Leary
    March 18, 2015

    I love that a little girl asked if you were wearing your “best” cardigan.

  5. claravulliamy
    March 19, 2015

    It’s a nice detail, isn’t it? I like to think she has her own cardigans neatly arranged in order, from everyday to very best.

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