Mark Twain anyone? HeeHee
Keeping in tune with the character mannerisms, quirks, tricks, etc. theme, clothing is a very important part of your character’s persona. Unless, of course, you’re writing about a nudist colony.
How you dress the people of your creativity is important for a number of reasons. Clothing can and will:
1. express the socio-economic situation of the character. ( homeless vs billionaire)
2. show the character’ s taste level ( slutty vs Princess Di)
3. show the character’s profession ( rock star vs surgeon)
4. show the heroine’s feelings about herself ( a put together outfit vs a pair of old tattered sweat pants and wifebeater tee)
I’m sure you can think of several other reasons as well it is important to have your character wear the right clothes.
It can also give you a great deal of insight into their minds and how they operate.
Take one of my favorite TV characters, Magnum P.I. ( Le sigh**) Magnum always gave you the impression he was a little laid back, maybe not too savvy, and more flash than substance. He was dressed perpetually in a loud Hawaiian flowered shirt and his favorited Dodgers ballcap was always covering his badly in need of a trim curly hair. Bad guys were always fooled by his laissez-faire demeanor. What they never got was his style of dress was meant to give that impression. If you’ve watched the shows ( and my God, why haven’t you??!) you’ll know that lackadaisical attitude was a front for one helluva smart and astute Private Investigator…who just happened to look uber-hot when he drove that red Ferrari around the island. Magnum’s wardrobe spoke volumes.
Another favorite sleuth of mine is the original Murder She Wrote character, Jessica Fletcher, portrayed by the remarkable and talented Angela Lansbury. Jessica Fletcher looked like exactly what she was: a retired English teacher, living in a cottage in Maine, penning murder novels on her old beat up manual typewriter. She looked and dressed like everyone’s favorite maiden aunt. Comfortable slacks, sneakers, a sweatshirt covering a white blouse. Boring and typical. Again, this was an illusion for the quick witted, smart brained, fascinating character she really was. Jessica was frequently the smartest person in any room she was in, and the most perceptive. Like Agatha Christie’s Jane Marble, Jessica ( in the early seasons of the show) rarely left her little village, but she had the uncanny knack of being about to rout out evil just by thinking like a murderer. Fascinating stuff.
I’ve mentioned before how Columbo would never have been Columbo without that tattered trench coat he always had on.
A final one, if you’ll let me. Gone with The Wind, my personal favorite war book and movie has a fantastic scene in it affectionately called ‘The curtain scene.” Scarlett, left destitute from the ravages of the civil war needs to present herself as a woman who is not a downtrodden war survivor, but exactly what she has always been, a spoiled, petted Southern belle. She has Mammie make a magnificent gown from the tapestry drapes in Tara’s Parlor so she can perpetuate the image she wants. Here’s one of the funniest parodies I’ve ever seen of this scene. Enjoy.
And just because I like this to be interactive…what are some outfits you’ve decked your characters in?….Let’s discuss.