Flavorwire runs down Literature’s 10 Best-Dressed Characters.
In addition to not describing how my characters look, I rarely mention what they wear. I haven’t scoured every page of Julia, but I think I mention that she wears a black dress to a memorial service…and that’s about it. Her sister wears PJs for a while, a neighbor wears a denim vest, and a mystery man wears an old, thinning shirt.
I just went on and on about how dialect and accent can tell the reader so much about a character. As they say, clothes make the man, so I wonder why I don’t bother with it.
OK, that’s not entirely true. Julia’s sister wears PJs all day because she’s depressed and doesn’t leave her room much, let alone the house. The neighbor’s denim jacket elicits a snarky comment from Julia, revealing that she’s not in Kansas anymore…or rather, she is back in the country. The mystery man’s thinning shirt is from a by-gone era, showing that he doesn’t have many occasions to dress up. And the black dress, well, that’s pretty conventional for memorials.
But the amount of time I spend on clothing my characters is minimal…just enough to get them through that specific scene and to get my point across. For all my descriptions of them, my characters could be running around the rest of the book naked. Although, I’m hoping my reader clothes them for me.
How much do you like reading about clothing? Does it enhance your experience? Do you even notice?