1. Hasanah H

    Hasanah H New Member

    Dec 1, 2021
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    Character wardrobe

    Discussion in 'Writing Contests' started by Hasanah H, Dec 2, 2021.

    Hey there, I'm writing a new character, male 18, wh's pretty fashion conscious, has an interest in historical events and likes to wear colourful things.

    Problem is, I am pretty bad at fashion.

    Any suggestions on what this guy's wardrobe could be like?
  2. Willa Cather

    Willa Cather New Member

    Dec 16, 2021
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    I'm not clear on whether or not this character exists in present day or in the past, but I'm going to assume that he lives in present day and wants to look somewhat historical and colorful without looking like he stepped out of a renissance fair.

    I'm not great at fashion either, but I have some thoughts. Vests, scarves, and hats all can dress up a normal outfit and not look too bizarre. Maybe your character could have a signature vesty and ascot combination that makes him stand out. Also, they can add a splash of color as well.
  3. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Oct 17, 2021
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    Why does the reader need to be shown the character's wardrobe?
    If the character hasn't told the OP, the OP can't tell the reader.
    We have to write what we know.

    Fashion, since it's a visual art, doesn't really exist in fiction. It isn't really part of a written character in the way it can part of a real person.

    "Sam is modelling a shocking pink cropped Chanel bouclé-wool jacket with a carefully cultivated vision of minimalism, a canary-yellow tutu, and purple satin platforms"

    (paraphrasing a random Vogue magazine article)

    But this could be 100 different outfits, and none of them can be shown in black and white text. 100% of the designer's art is lost. All this line is really doing is battering the reader with some marked vocab. They won't have any mental image of bouclé-wool. Bouclé might not even be a real word. Buckled wool would it be? If we have to ask what the adjectives mean, we aren't elite enough to wear them. In text, "a carefully cultivated vision of minimalism" is an oxymoron. And can platform shoes really be made of satin?

    The language of fashion reviews I think works by imitating the visual trickery of the clothes. But it's nowhere near as deep: there aren't as many words for a bouclé-wool jacket as there are ways of weaving one. Not by a long shot. Probably this is why Vogue doesn't have an audio edition. The descriptions would be meaningless without photography - and they're only stepping into the verbal world for as long as a sales pitch takes.

    To establish that a character is fashionable might be as easy as changing to another hairdresser and cribbing descriptions of a few outfits from the pile of fashion magazines in the waiting area.
    But that's superficial and if the character is someone who loves fashion it isn't doing them justice. To write it a character trait it would have to penetrate into every area of their voice - they would think presentationally all the time, and it would extend into how they interact with others. If they relate to other people through clothing more than words - everyone is either a source of fashion tips or needs their help. They might struggle to deal with DGAFfers. Environments where they can't dress up might hold strange horrors for them. And to a reader that might be less relatable - this is a character who inhabits a world that isn't in the words. So I'd suggest to establish the psychology slowly and carefully: perhaps giving the character a list of things to worry about when they meet others socially. They might list who else will be there and artificially assign an adjective to each person, and match that with an adjective from their wardrobe. It's not as complex as how fashion-conscious people choose outfits, but it might get across to the reader that each article of clothing has a symbolic meaning, or that it helps the character approach situations they find awkward. (Or whatever else it all means for this character)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021
  4. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

    Oct 16, 2012
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    'Fashionable' 'Modern' (to the time), 'the envy of those round him.' 'An uncompromising, elite sense of style unmatched by his peers, causing them bitter jealousy and resentment.'

    The details of the actual clothes are not relevant. Try and focus on the end result, or how people react to it. But you can paint broad strokes with the styles of the era so we have some idea, but no need to explain why it's great. 'His codpiece was the envy of the fashionista'.

    Edit: I just realised that's not the most useful to your example but will leave here for others.

    As for the OP, are they really that fashionable if they like colour and vintage? It reminds me of Duckie from Pretty In Pink. They could be I guess. Fashion is fleeting and a product of the time. Anyway, remain vague and focus on what other people think about it or how they react.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021

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