Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clothes Maketh the Woman...

Well, here I am, stepping off the plane on to the island and blinking in the sunlight. We Brits don’t get much practice with that, you know?

I'm late, I know, and I'd love to blame airline delays, or snowstorms, or a security alert at the airport. But really I'm just a little disorganised this month and I didn't leave myself enough time to write my blog pack my case!

And so I’m very grateful for the invitation here, it’s been a dreadfully busy time for me at work and the family have been in upheaval and the weather was grim over the New Year and my car is having trouble…

So you see why I’m so grateful? LOL

A change of pace is what we often need. Relaxing with friends, admiring the scenery, drinking too many Margaritas (I hope). And for my change of pace? I need to be dressed appropriately.

That’s what they say, isn’t it? We are what we wear. And that’s a useful tool in fiction. What our characters wear sets the scene for the reader,

For example, I’m just reading (again) J.R.Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books, and it’s all about the clothes. Well, and the fighting and the politics and the blood and the sex ... but you know what I mean. Lots of sweeping leather, wraparound shades and big shitkickers. Weapons strapped all over the body like some new kind of alternative accessory.

And by the way, do you know I found it impossible to find an illustrative picture of Brother-like warriors with their clothes *on*? LOL

A couple of my recent short stories have featured the clothing as much as the men!
What not to Wear had Doug and Beckett wearing increasingly outrageous slogans on their T-shirts that reflected their equally outrageous love life! Until making out both in the elevator and over the Boardroom table got them fired LOL

And in How the Other Half Lives, Martin is very prim and smart, while Russ is his polar opposite, wearing ripped jeans and never ironing his shirts. And their attitudes are like their clothing: two men you’d think would have nothing in common. Until they volunteer to flatsit for each other, and gradually come around to see their neighbour as a friend rather than an alien. Which, of course, leads to more than just friendship…!

So can *you* think of anything you've read or written recently that depended heavily on what the characters wore? Do you like a lot of description in your ficton so you can really envisage what the hero looks and dresses like? Or do you prefer a bit of vagueness, so you can imagine them yourself?

It sounds like a version of the comic dolls and their cut-paper dresses I used to buy each week LOL.

So... I'll keep today's post fairly brief, to allow for more Margaritas my jetlag to ease. And I need more time to delve back into my suitcase to see what on earth I have to wear that's suitable for the rest of my trip.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. So said Mark Twain.

Hmm. Not sure that'll appeal to the nude sunbathers, Mark, but it takes all sorts to make a world :).

Now, have that cute waiter bring me another a Margarita and my flip-flops, and let’s join in the fun!


Comment on any of my posts this week and you’ll be entered in a draw for my new short story Precious Possession, due out on March 13 at JMS Books.

BLURB: Lucas Fides has inherited his Victorian family’s auction house, good looks and a passionate mind. But he hides an illicit devotion to his friend Valentine and suffers shocking, erotic dreams. When Valentine introduces a new client, Gideon Arnaud offers important financial help and the opportunity for Lucas to realize his other desires. But Lucas will have to pay the price.


Jenre said...

I think clothes are really important in making a statement about a character. I used to read a lot of m/f regency romances and part of my enjoyment of that genre was in the clothes that the characters wore. The regency rake with his outrageously expensive clothes or the prim governess with her plain dresses who longs for the beautiful clothes of the rich ladies (hmmm, seemed to have slipped into Jane Eyre territory there :)).

I recently read a m/m steampunk novel by KZ Snow, Mongrel, and the clothes in that were very important for the characters, especially Fanule, who wears black intimidating clothing to make others more fearful of him. Great stuff.

Chris said...

I read Ava March's Bound Forever a few days ago, and all I can think about is how accursedly frustrating it must've been trying to deal with all those buttons and layers...

Tracy said...

I absolutely think that clothing is important in a story. You can't exactly have an uptight anal lawyerly type who wears torn jeans and t-shirts - that just doesn't say anal to me. On the flip side you can't have a laid-back surfer wearing a suit! lol

Naked people have little or no influence on society.
This made me laugh. My 8 year old will be so disappointed - she loves running around in the all together. lol

Anonymous said...

recklessly responding! :D

i love clothing descriptions, but there's that fine line between "just right" and "over-exposition". i don't think anyone needs to know exactly what each character is wearing all of the time. i appreciate it more when you can slip a reference to his clothes into the dialogue or into the action.

the thing with me is... i'm picky about clothing taste (well, my clothing taste is very standard but i like contemporary characters to be wearing generally contemporary styles). and i hate it when my favourite character is described wearing what i think would be the world's most hideous outfit. haha. i get totally distracted by that. ^^;;;;;; my biggest pet peeve are descriptions of boys (18-25) going clubbing in this day and age wearing poet's shirts. (you know where i'm getting this from. don't hide it! ^_~)

Anonymous said...

I think clothes are very important in building a character. They don't have to define the character but can reveal certain aspects that would otherwise be overlooked.

I would also add tattoos and piercings into the mix. If you look at Lauren Dane's Brown siblings books, most of the characters have tattoos and/or piercings. The cliche would be to make the characters tough or dark. The characters in this series are family oriented, supportive and loving.

Good question.

dikladies.guest said...

Jenre - oh yes, I agree with your comment on Regency. Even though we can't see them, the costumes are such a sensual treat :). Why aren't we wearing more things like that nowadays, I ask?

Chris - and then I read your comment, and I have my answer :)

Tracy - sorry to disillusion the 8yo. But hey, it doesn't mean we all agree with Mark Twain!

sami - how great to see you here, long time no chat :):). I agree completely that some books seem to spend all their time telling you what the characters are wearing and - worse! - where they bought them. And you made me laugh about it not agreeing with your taste. I know I sometimes sit there reading and thinking - what, you're wearing that with THAT? Eww! LOL.

Stacie - excellent point about the bodywear. I love your point that tattoos etc shouldn't always be associated with the *dark* side of people, but as other forms of looking good. Authors need to use all the visual aids available at their fingertips.

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