1. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Expensive women's fashion

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CGB, Jul 1, 2015.

    Trying to come up with clothing descriptors for one of my female characters who is an insanely fashionable dresser. I know nothing about fashion, and especially women's fashion. Any good resources you can suggest?
     
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  2. No-Name Slob
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    Me. :cool:
     
  3. No-Name Slob
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    No, really, how old is your character? That matters as far as which websites to send you to.
     
  4. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Sorry she is late 20s. Works in a traditional corporate American company (and has a relatively high position at that)... so I need casual and professional business attire options. And probably stuff about perfume, female ornaments, and whatnot.
     
  5. No-Name Slob
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    Gotcha! I forgot to add: can you tell me what her personality is like, aside from being fashionable?
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    I'm remember one old-fashioned murder mystery that described a dress something like the following

    To the untrained eye, it looked like burlap, but any woman knew that it had cost the earth.

    I haven't captured the nuances of the wording, but I admired the complete lack of specifics that gave me an effective mental image even though the book was probably forty years old.
     
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  8. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Looks like there's probably some overlap with the above post, but I reference this post and the others linked from it when I don't know what I'm trying to describe (which ... is often).
     
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  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I had a chance to meet three lovely ladies from London who had great careers and plenty of money. The first thing that struck me was their utter obsessions with stiletto heels. All of them. I'm looking at their feet and going "how??" I mean, I've worn stilettos, yes, and I hate them. I can wear them comfortably for ten minutes, if not much walking is required. I know it takes practice and women have suffered for beauty before (corsets, jeggings, bella donna in the eyes...), but I was still astounded by the sheer resilience of these ladies. I didn't know about the brands they wore, but what they donned were tube dresses (length, just above the knee), although on one day one of them wore this, I don't know, is it like '50s style circle skirt? The type you see American housewives wear in the '50s and '60s. They also carried rather sizeable handbags. Like, you could fit a flying saucer, cauldron, collabsable bicycle, and beach ball inside one of those monstrosities. However, all these women were in their 40s.

    In my home country the women I've known to have worked in high positions (managers) in big businesses have all been over 30. I think the youngest I've met was around 35. This in a country where the glass ceiling has big holes allowing women through, unlike in the US apparently (don't know for sure, but I've read of women complain about this). I don't know if a younger woman in a similar position would dress differently, but over here the attires consist nowadays of pant suits, black skinny jeans and a jacket (like a pant suit jacket), moderate heels or "ballet slippers", so it's a bit different than what I observed in London.
     
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  10. jannert
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    I'm with you on this one, @KaTrian . I simply don't understand it. I know I cringe every time I see our otherwise fantastic First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, walking around on the stiletto heels she ALWAYS wears. I know she's not very tall, and maybe that's the underlying reason. She walks very confidently in these heels as well, and they suit her. But geez o crap. What are her feet going to be like in 20 years' time? Not to mention her abnormally shortened calf muscles and tendons? And her toes? It'll be bunions, hammer toes, the lot.

    And furthermore, despite her genuine concern for women's issues and promoting women in politics, what is she really saying here? Women must self-cripple in order to be successful and taken 'seriously'? She says she gets annoyed by how many articles in the press focus on her 'looks' and how she's dressed. So if that's the case, why not strike a real blow for women, dress comfortably in normal flat shoes, and allow that to be talked about? There's an issue well worth addressing.

    Finland, as usual, seems to take the sensible approach. There is nothing attractive about a woman teetering around on high heels, unable to run for a bus, move quickly and confidently in any weather or terrain conditions, and wincing with pain because her feet are deformed. Truly there isn't.

    The sooner women (and men) get this concept through their heads, the better off we'll all be.
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There's actually a fairly simple solution to your problem. Buy a few fashion magazines, if your story is a contemporary one. Read the articles telling the women how to dress for this or that.

    Your 'insanely fashionable' characters will be reading the same magazines and trying to follow these dictates. Look at the pictures. How do your characters measure up? Do they have the 'right' figure to wear these clothes ...in other words, is theirs the figure the 'designer' had in mind when he came up with these garments? (It's often a 'he' who has an idealised woman in mind, and doesn't wear the clothes 'he' designs himself. I do despair...) If not, how concerned are your characters about fitting the template? Do they worry about their weight and shape (and hair colour, style, fingernail polish, etc?) Or do they not give a damn, and dress in inappropriate clothing for their body shape—and consequently look a bit weird and contrived? Or are they just natural beauties?
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
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  12. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    Many women who don't make millions but want to wear high-end designers will have a few super expensive staples in their wardrobe: think a Chanel purse, Christian Louboutin heels, etc, and then mix it with less expensive pieces. If your character doesn't have that problem then pick up a copy of Vogue and see what they're wearing/advertising.
     
  13. Aaron Smith
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    Louis Vuitton comes to mind.
     
  14. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a fashion expert by ANY means, but I'll share a small bit of fun I've had writing two major characters who have reason to be interested in fashion. They come out very differently. The story is centered on a cable news network, and as my characters are TV personalities, some of them take what they wear very seriously - and the differences in how they perceive that tells you a lot about them.

    One character, Madison, is a big time reporter and self-identified "celebrity news babe" - for her, fashion is about status and maintaining her image, but she isn't actually all that interested in it. For her, I always drop brand names when describing her clothing and accessories - everything is Gucci, Coach, Armani - etc. These are all brands that people recognize as expensive, conveying status, but also indicative of purposeful conformity to trends in pursuit of popularity.

    Another character, Vinya, is actually the network's fashion and culture blogger. I never drop brand names with her because she doesn't care - and because she thinks branding-for-status is gauche (she also doesn't have as much money as Madison, although she probably spends a bigger chunk of her income on high-end clothes.) Instead, I usually describe how serious she is about customizing her image - the intricate swirl-pattern nails that nobody can touch but "authorized professionals", the ten different shades of lipstick lined up on her counter, the thought she puts into getting dressed in the morning, the fact that she owns a home t-shirt printer, etc. I also take a lot more time describing exactly how her clothes or makeup look - whereas Madison just gets a brief note and maybe a brand name.

    Both would probably be labelled "fashionistas" - but they couldn't be more different in terms of how they are rendered. Madison is a trend-FOLLOWER whereas Vinya is a trend-SETTER, and those two functions require radically opposite thought processes (one relies on the crowd for wisdom, the other purposefully tunes the crowd out).

    ADDENDUM: Coming back to this post a few hours later, I should probably point out that Vinya writes about cultural trends for a living. So she doesn't hate the in-crowd. She's obsessed with what the in-crowd is doing and why...she's my Sherlock Holmes brain who figures things out that the others don't see. But her personal appearance is purposefully different from (and ahead of) prevailing trends - precisely because she's so conscious of those trends, how quickly they die, and her role in shaping them. On the other hand, Madison's entire goal is to win the moment, in the moment - she doesn't need to be fashion-forward, she needs to be fashion-CURRENT.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
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  15. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Vogue magazine. It's aspirational.

    You could also try Elle, and Vanity Fair.
     
  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Oh, what fun research! I'm with everyone else visit some fashion sites or better yet go to the library and browse some fashion books or current magazines. I wouldn't name drop too much, the idea is to present a look. In ten years the names might not mean as much especially if they're not as rock solid as Chanel or Hugo Boss, but to state things like cougar printed heels and a matching clutch - everyone will get that.

    I used to love reading Judith Krantz for her fashion descriptions.
     
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  17. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Yes I need some of these descriptive words to match the latest fashions, because this is science fiction and in an alternate universe where such brands do not exist.

    Is there an atlas somewhere? Lol.
     
  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly - the best "Atlas" you can pick up probably is an issue of Vogue or one of those types of magazines.

    I had to buy a Vogue one time because they featured a politician I was following, and I was amazed at just how much of the total volume of the magazine is composed of advertising. I'm more of a news-magazine person so I'm not used to that many ads - but if you think about it - the people that buy those sorts of things want to know what all the big brands are doing, and the big brands know their customers are reading. So not only are the articles going to be mostly about fashion, so are the ads.

    I also noticed in that one issue I picked up that they actually included and index in the back of every piece of clothing used in the magazine's photo shoots. Again, people who read want to know how to get something for themselves if they like it.

    Seriously, if you want to know the topic, buy a magazine. You might get a weird look from the cashier, but it's valuable research.
     
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  19. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Any other authors you can recommend to study for good descriptions?
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There are a wealth of links to descriptive terms posted in this thread. They didn't meet your needs, why?
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, though I'd recommend also looking at Harper's Bazaar. A large percentage of the clothes in Vogue are things that you's likely only see on a fashion show runway; Harper's Bazaar is closer to garments that you might see humans wearing.
     
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  22. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Because the magazines will describe brand name items and will primarily consist of pictures. These aren't as useful to me, since I write in an alternate universe where Hugo Boss, Louboutin, etc. do not exist.
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It would appear you didn't look at the links.

    Se la vie.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The magazines will. The links don't. I know that because I looked at them. You could try that.
     
  25. peachalulu
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    My chic lit reading is hopelessly dated. I used to read those glitzy 80's books - Judith Kranz, Jilly Cooper and a nameless other hundred. I can't remember who had the juiciest clothing descriptions but Krantz was good. You could try your local book store or a used bookstore and check out the romance section. Just thumb through to see what they've got. Or here's a list on Good Reads about books that have something to do with fashion in them - https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/fashion-fiction
     

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