Guest Serenanna

Characters and . . . Clothing?

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Guest Serenanna

I wasn't too sure where to start this one, but I figured since it's all about characters anyway, this was the place. I got a review in today, one that asked me about a gown I'd written up for a character to wear that was inspired by a Dior couture collection, that made my fashion geek side giddy that someone noticed enough to ask about it. I had to lecture a little on the difference between couture and ready-to-wear, but I think she got the point.

Maybe it's just my visual mind (and fashion geek nature), but how I dress characters seriously matters to me. In sex scenes, I feel like I spend half the foreplay just getting them undressing. Yet, I kind of feel alone in all this detailed stuff. It's not like I go into too much detail over body parts and faces, but after spending four years in design school, the crunch of velvet, or the rustle of stiff silk dupioni are sounds of second nature to me.

Some fics I've read barely mention what characters look like much less what they wear. Clothes seem to magically disappear when it comes to sex. Maybe I got a fetish or something, but I like reading about things being pulled, torn, shed!

So, my questions, does clothing/appearance/visual details matter at all when you're writing or reading? Do you even bother dressing characters in things that are different from their normal or at least describe what they look like? In general, how much detail is necessary?

Sere

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I do pay attention to clothes. Especially in this one fic where the characters didn't pack their own clothes so they have no idea what's in their suitcases.

I think clothes are an important aspect of a character. In real life, people get an impression of you based on what you wear, so why shouldn't this apply to fictional characters? The type of wardrobe a character has can tell us a lot about the character. Same goes for deviations in wardrobe.

I don't think I care about fashion on quite the same level as you do (though I do care). Still, I think that your fashion background can add a pleasantly unique dimension to your writing, and this reviewer has proved that.

I've also noticed that a lot of people don't take much time when writing about the removal of clothing. In fact, some skip that step altogether. As they see it, that's a given so it's not something they think anyone will take interest in. They either try to get to the scene as quickly as possible, or they concentrate on other aspects of foreplay which are deemed more important, such as atmosphere and actions.

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I really think it depends. Sometimes, describing things like you focused on, sound and texture, the touch and feel of things beneath fingertips, are important to a scene.

Engaging the senses are important to writing a compelling scene.

However, it bogs down and moves into the ridiculous when the description of clothing comes down to an inventory of what the writer loves from Hot Topic (or favorite trendy clothing store of choice).

Some writers haven't figured out the balance yet and feel like if they describe clothing in order to create a greater sensory experience for their writing, they are falling into the Hot Topic Trap.

Of course, if it becomes the main focus of your writing, then you are going to leave behind those writers who really would like you to 'just get on with it already'.

It's all about moderation and focus and skill.

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I hate writing about clothes, and try to do it as little as possible yet whenever I read a description of a character I always need what they're wearing to get the picture about them. I don't need huge details, weight, colour and quality usually cover it for me. However if I'm describing a character getting undressed I try to take my time there's just something very sensual about that.

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Guest Serenanna

I'm with you, red, on the whole stripping thing. It's a fine art of tease lost in the impatience of trying to get to the goods.

On details in general, I am always balancing it between trying to paint a picture and not over doing it. So far no one has complained about it in my writing, but I'm just curious how others feels.

To me, clothes can have significance like Eve said. The gown in said story is brought up again later by her partner when he keeps staring at it on a hanger and thinking about her. Objects in and of themselves can be symbols for other thing or associated with people and memories, like most of Naruto and those headbands or Tsunade's necklace, or FMA and Ed's pocket watch and coat. I love seeing attention paid to that in things. It reminds me of an adage I heard about screen writing, that a gun shown in act one will inevitably be fired by the end of the movie. Whenever an author pays attention to something in particular, I always keep looking while I'm reading for said thing to pop up later.

It's funny too what people notice about other people as well, like shoes (and no, I don't have a foot fetish). In RL, it is usually the first thing people see when someone approaches, the whole eyes sliding upwards. And yet, most people do character descriptions from the face down. I'm guilty of this too, but sometimes I focus on the shoes if someone is looking down already, or on the most colorful, attention grabbing thing like a coat.

. . . Ok, I'm shutting up now since I'm rambling in my own topic.

Sere

PS. Sub-question since someone else brought it up, the Hot Topic issue. Is the goth look really that over-saturated? I'm a bit bias myself since I'd dress that way if I could since I can make it, but I haven't noticed it too much, least of all in my fandoms. I'll freely admit to loving the look of corsets and bustiers. I'm not the only here that finds them sexy am I?

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I'll freely admit to loving the look of corsets and bustiers. I'm not the only here that finds them sexy am I?

I love corsets! One of these day's I'll either have enough extra money to buy a custom-made corset, or I'll break down and make one myself.

I tend not to use elaborate descriptions where clothing is concerned, of course, in the HP fandom most everyone knows what the uniforms and robes look like....

In foreplay it's a fine balance between the clothes magically disappearing (hey, this is within the realm of possibility in my fandom happy.gif) and making a laundry list of every single button that's undone (and with Snape that could take a really damn long time laugh.gif).

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I describe clothing depending on the situation. If I want a reader to get a sense of a character's personality or situation in life, I'll go into detail, keeping in mind that Shakespeare line "for the apparel oft proclaims the man" (or woman). Thinking back on some of my stories, I've gotten quite specific about clothing, but the undressing part in sex scenes can either work wonderfully or become a hindrance. I remember one HP story I wrote, where a female character was wearing a full length, teal, silk soutane that buttoned from neck to mid-thigh. Her lover started to use magic to unfasten the buttons, but she stopped him, despite his complaint that undoing them by hand would take half the night. She countered with the theory that the anticipation was part of the fun. With that, I think I was trying to find a happy medium; describing the garment well enough so people could fill in the blanks without having to write it all out.

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Guest Alien Pirate Pixagi

It... depends. For an original story, when describing the character, I do a rundown of what they are wearing. When it comes to them wearing something they normally wouldn't then I get into serious detail. OR, if I want to point out something odd.

For instance, I had a story once with two female characters with very different personalities and choices of wardrobe. One was a very quiet, sarcastic dry person with multicolored dreads, rainbow painted finger nails and very brightly colored clothes. The other was a bright, outgoing and sexual creature who wore mostly loose black men's cloths. I wanted to make a severe point on the contrast between the two (ying-yang of sorts).

I believe clothes to be important. They can say a lot about the person, as well as adding another dimension to them. For instance, in the case of the brightly colored introvert, one would think that, by surface personality alone, she'd hate to do anything to draw attention to herself. Instead, she makes it a point to stick out like a sore thumb. Her friend, the nympho in black, doesn't wear clothes to entice or allure. She also doesn't make it a point to stick out either (even though, she does indeed stick out anyway, 'cause being blasian isn't exactly common or easily hidden...). She doesn't have to, and she doesn't care anyway. She knows her charisma and charm will carry her through and into the pants (or under the skirts) of anyone she wants who has even a mild interest. A sense of confidence is set up in a way most people usually don't think of ('cause, you know, confidence in a female means dressing like a whore).

At the same time, I currently have a character for my super secret writing project who, when able, will walk around naked. Why? Not to entice, or even show off, but because she grew up amongst people who rarely wore anything more then a loincloth or sarong unless they were going to battle. They don't link nudity to sex, so for a while it doesn't occur to her that she may be inducing sexy thoughts while walking around without a shirt, and then, after a while, doesn't care biggrin.gif (That, and I like making hot girls do hot things)

I will, when possible, stray from conventions, what my characters wear is not the stereotype for their personality, but simply what they choose to wear for various reasons. Why have the happy perky girl where men's clothes? They're comfy! Why have the quiet one where a miniskirt? 'Cause she might not like talking, but sexin' needs no words beyond "wear the condom."

I don't like reading stories where the character is just pushed into skin tight clothes that they don't seem comfortable in unless there's a point to it. I notice this a lot in the Harry Potter fandom. There are a lot of Adult!Harry and Draco fics where Harry, no longer living with the Dursley's and suddenly starts wearing Armani. The character does NOT strike me as the type to suddenly make it a point to where clothes like that, or even to care enough to spend that much money on stuff like that. And with the clothes, they change his entire personality to the point where it's not Harry, but someone with his face.

With Adult!Draco however, I see a lot of fish net, which makes no sense to me unless he lost his entire inheritance and had to whore himself out for a living (which has been the case sometimes...). I see Draco as being the Armani type, custom cut suits and tailored shirts. That just seems the way he is, not a blond little whoreling.

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Very rarely do I take the time to go into detail about what the characters are wearing because, as has been stated, for the most part, people know what these characters are wearing. And so far I've only had clothing disappear on me once... and it was only a pair of panties and that was totally intentional (Ahh... gotta love HP fics... wub.gif and vanishing charms wink.gif ).

Anyway, If I am writing about a night out on the town, or something where the characters wouldn't be in the normal everyday kinds of clothing, I will take the time to be a bit more discriptive, and then, as has also been stated, I keep it as realistic as possible. Some characters aren't going to go out in a custom tailored suit, while others wouldn't' be caught dead in jeans. That is part of the character.

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Some characters are defined by their clothes. (Superman, et al)

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Guest Alien Pirate Pixagi
Some characters are defined by their clothes. (Superman, et al)

If a Batman wore a lime green tutu, would he still be Batman?

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If a Batman wore a lime green tutu, would he still be Batman?

Sure! As long as the context is mentioned. Maybe he got hit by Joker's mind control machine or something. Or he lost a bet with Alfred.

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If a Batman wore a lime green tutu, would he still be Batman?

Sure he would. He'd still strike terror in the hearts of others, but for completely different reasons.

Scratch that. Batman is supposed to make them shake and piss their pants, but out of fear, not uncontrollable laughter.

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