On the Clothesline

Writing clothes has developed into a theme on the Stiletto Gang this week. I’ve been thinking of what I have to say on the matter. Unfortunately, it’s not much. I write at night. So when I write, I wear whatever I wore to work that day minus shoes, jacket and jewelry. I pull my hair back in a ponytail, grab a Pepsi One, maybe some Strawberry Twizzlers, and I’m good to go.

Of course I do have to dress my “people.” Descriptions of clothing can help define your characters. Anyone who has read Murder Off the Books can tell you what kind of clothes JJ wears.

“Can I help you?” A young woman in her late teens reluctantly looked up from her computer screen, then stood and stretched. Her short spiked black hair was shaved over her left ear, which sported a silver hoop earring the size of a tennis ball. A red plaid flannel shirt, cargo pants, black studded leather belt, and heavy work boots completed the receptionist’s attire.

In Murder Takes the Cake, JJ’s style draws her boss’s ire:

“Hey, you already yelled at me once this morning. You don’t pay me enough to put up with it all day long, mister.”

Mac narrowed his eyes. After her outburst, JJ had actually flounced out of his office; a difficult feat for someone wearing an outfit better suited for a military grunt than a southern belle.

He obviously needed to establish some boundaries. She worked for him! “And buy some appropriate clothes for the office. Nothing in camouflage! A suit maybe. And no hobnailed boots. I’m tired of you scaring off the clients.”

There! That was something he’d been intending to say for days.

And somehow when JJ does upgrade her style, she still stands out.

Edgar and the dog stared at her.

“What?” She didn’t need to ask why they were staring at her. After Mac’s order to change her wardrobe, she’d visited a consignment shop. Currently she was wearing a circa 1930s, knockoff, Chanel suit. Even though she’d had to re-sew the seams, the old suit had still cost her more money than she was comfortable spending–especially just to make a point. It was black wool with gold metal buttons. She’d added a white silk blouse. Around her waist she’d cinched a black leather belt to hide the fact the jacket was a little large. The four inch heels were already killing her feet and it wasn’t even noon yet. She’d left her jet-black hair in its normal spiked style, but she’d replaced her large hoop earrings with fake pearl studs and a matching double strand necklace.

“You got one of those little hats with the black netting?” Edgar asked, waving one gnarled hand across his eyes showing where the netting would be.

“Maybe.” She had seen one of those at the shop and thought about buying it. But she wasn’t about to take fashion advice from the old man. “Why?”

“Widow’s weeds. You could get a job as an extra at O’Herlihy’s when Mac fires you. You know, as one of those paid mourners.”

Do you pay attention to what characters are wearing in the novels you read? Is there a character you’ll always remember because of his/her clothing?

Evelyn David

2 replies
  1. Gayle Carline
    Gayle Carline says:

    Clothing descriptions are something I only want to put in my head as one more reference for the character. If they are well-done, they remind me in a quick, glancing way, that a boy is a Goth or the woman is a fashionista. If they aren't (the Goth is wearing white tennies, or the fashionista has WAY TOO many labels or any of it goes on too long), they jar me from the story.


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