How To Add a True Crime Section to Your Closet. Call a Detective.

by | Jun 25, 2021 | Crime Writing | 0 comments

Before I started my crime adventure with Detective John “Jigsaw” St. John, I never had a problem deciding what to wear. When I was an international airline stewardess, before a flight, I’d head into my closet, pull out my Trans International uniform (navy blue jacket, matching skirt, white blouse, low-heeled pumps, hat), and set them next to my purse and passport.

When I taught English at Incline Village high school in Nevada, I wore blouses and slacks that fit with the “mountain look” the faculty preferred. When I spent four months (part of my training for a Master’s degree) at a daycare facility for patients with schizophrenia, I chose conservative, beige and brown outfits. No jewelry. No bright, colorful accessories. Practical flats.

After meeting St. John, I felt lost in my own closet. There was no Cop Bar section. No Meeting an Ex-Con section. No Crime Scene section. No visits to Maximum Security prison section. Just Tennis, Little League, and Lunch with The Girls.

Once I met John St. John, my closet needed to add a True Crime section.   

My tennis section was caput. A short skirt and polo shirt would not get me in the front gate at San Quentin. Pearls and a black dress for dinner wouldn’t be the best choice for interviewing an ex-con. The simple shirtwaist dresses I used to wear for trips to LA would look wildly out of place in the LA morgue. Jeans and t-shirts were fine for the dog park but inappropriate for a murder trial. The clothes I used to wear before I met Detective John St. John didn’t fit into my new life.

 I needed to check St. John’s dress code before I headed into the closet, or I’d wind up feeling out of place in my new world.

The day before I first visited the LA Morgue, I asked, “What’s the right outfit for this place? Should I borrow one of Jim’s hospital scrubs? What if I faint when I see a dead body?” He told me to wear slacks, a shirt and put a hand towel in my purse in case I get sweaty or worse–sick.

When I asked what to wear for my interview with Barbara Bien, mother of Freeway Killer victim, Steven Wood, he said, “Put on the softest sweater you own and bring Kleenex.”

When I asked what to wear to San Quentin that would include a tour of Death Row he said, “Wear your best teacher outfit with a high–necked blouse, long skirt, and flat shoes. Cover yourself up like a nun.”

When I asked what I should wear for my interview with Cindy Bradford, wife of serial killer, Bill Bradford, he said, “Tone it down. No jewelry. Leave your signature pearls at home. Don’t wear anything that will distract from her, and what she has to say. Dress like you were sitting for the cover of L.L. Bean.”

When I asked what to wear to the homicide convention he said, “Look pretty. These guys want to party, bullshit about their cases and play cards. A nice-looking girl in a flowered dress will take their minds off the blood and guts of homicide.”

After six months, I’d added a new section to my closet that used to be boring and predictable: tennis, dog park, Little League, and LA.

The outfits in the True Crime section, are the ones I wear most. And feel more like me.