In honor of my youngest sister, I am writing about fashion. As the fashion designer in our family, she has a knack for making any item work in an outfit. Only she can make Cleopatra’s jewelry look modern semi-formal. She’s also learned to look amazing on a budget.
She’s also taught me that a lot is expressed through what you wear. Some of the designs she has created have expressed cultures and almost entire stories. Of course, we know that cultures have their own traditional clothing. A kilt is clearly Scottish, you can imagine Cleopatra’s gold necklace. But there is even a bit more.
Examples In Fiction
The Prince and the Pauper make it easy to see that clothing can express your financial situation. And High School Musical shows that what we wear shows a lot about our personalities. At least what crowd we run with the most.
In fiction, there are many times when the clothing isn’t as important as what is said or done by the characters. In movies, the fashion choices just need to match the characters’ personalities. But fashion may be a useful tool in storytelling, as in any creative avenue.
Fashion in Your Fiction
Fashion in fiction could express the cultures and status of the characters in the world you build. But fashion is how characters express themselves. Their moods and attitudes are expressed by what they wear and overall grooming.
Any terrified individual isn’t gonna care that their sleeve is half ripped off and dangling from their arm. Using clues like this can express a whole lot of backstory to what a character just went through. Screaming “a monster!” isn’t necessary and a bit too ‘on the nose’.
A woman in a white dress with a long train and veil, is clearly getting married. While bright clothes and hoop earrings are adorning a gypsy. These are tropes, and easy ways to introduce a character by first impressions. This may be the introduction to the reader of the main character, or how the main character meets another character.
Fashion in fiction can tell a number of things about a character. The clothing may be tropes, following the culture of the story, or express how strange a character is. Using the state of fashion for a character the reader has already met may express emotions, transformations, or the backstory of a recent event.
Add fashion to your fiction tool box, and have fun with it!