Welcome everyone. I’m glad the weather does not usually effect our ability to have these virtual visits, but horse-feathers, it’s cold out there! Or at least it is cold for a lot of us. The question of what to wear is answered by “A coat!”
Have you guessed that I’m leading into another writing process post? Some people don’t like “descriptive writing” but I find some level of description helpful, whether I’m writing or reading. An occasional mention of a character’s clothing can help in several ways.
To me describing a garment is particularly helpful if the story is set in a different era, or an entirely different world.
I enjoyed Robert Jordan’s descriptions of the clothing of the various cultures he built in to the world of his “Wheel of Time” series. The garments helped define the nationalities. They also helped me keep up with the vast array of characters in that voluminous high fantasy series.
Also a quick mention of clothing can firm up the physical environment or climate. Your character might wear a tank top or a cozy sweater, sandals or fur-lined boots. Regardless of the garment it can help the reader feel your fictional world.
“What to wear?” can help develop a character’s personality. I don’t mean just the items of clothing you choose to dress them, but what they pull out of their closet and why. For instance, Ralda Lawton, the heroine in Atonement, Tennessee (© 2012) has a tendency to feel frumpy. Ralda’s “go to” at-home garment is a tattered sweat jacket. It also shows up in book-2, Atonement in Bloom, (currently in progress). Meanwhile her friend Bethany (© 2012) consistently wears black.
Also in “Bloom” a new character is easily identified when the townspeople discuss him — because of his bowler hat and suit. That’s not something one often sees in quaint Atonement, TN.
In writing a series, describing attire can serve as a reminder about aspects of a character. Bethany’s affection for hats is brought out in “Bloom.” I used the sequence to let you see the playful side of my Goth accountant.
The sound of a squishing footfall told me I was not alone. I didn’t have to look to know it was Bethany Gwen. Maybe it was logic, maybe it was intuition, but I knew it was her.
Bethany lived farther up the street in the opposite direction. She was an early riser, an accountant, and a Goth. She was a study in contrasts.
A vivid color caused me to look down instead of up when I turned toward her. Bright pink flame and swirl designs covered her shiny black galoshes. On each boot, amid the pink flames a scull rested atop crossed cutlasses. I shook my head. In all of Atonement, only my friend would wear such foot-gear.
“Those are great,” I said of the galoshes, giving her a lopsided smile.
As was her usual habit, nearly everything else she wore was black, including an antique top hat and the ruffled umbrella she carried. Bethany had tied a hot pink ribbon around the hat to match the boots. The black garb made the galoshes seem even brighter.
“You like?” she confirmed and stuck one foot out in a precarious way. “I couldn’t resist when I saw them online,” she said.
“Oh yes,” I said with a chuckle. “Hey, wait a minute, you’ve cut your hair,” I commented moving a step closer to be sure, since she wore a hat.
Bethany doffed her top hat and bowed. Then she stood and ruffled her new pixie cut.
As you see, that scene was not really about clothes. It lets you know about the character’s personality.
Do you have a favorite book that makes use of clothing descriptions? Or is there a character you enjoy who has a signature item of clothing? If so, then be sure to mention it in a comment here. You know I love hearing from you.
PS: My apologies if you can’t get the videos in your location — or if commercials have been added.
Also known as “The Way You Wear Your Hat…”