Did your mother ever tell you not to wear white after Labor Day? I can only imagine how this outdated fashion rule comes to many minds whenever Labor Day rolls around. Well, it’s that time of year again.
Although we can likely all agree that this rule is dated and that fashion today allows you to wear white all year around, we still use the phrase. Interesting how the power of a phrase never loses its charm.
I am not that old, not that young and by all means not a fashion designer—I’m a nurse and an author. I use colors and textures as a tool to show the reader the season and the weather.
Let’s say the character in the book you read walks on the beach. Her bare feet leave perfectly formed footprints in the wet sand. Her white, linen dress flutters behind her, parallel to the residual foamy line left behind by the gentle waves. You, the reader, immediately know that the character is in a setting that is warm, likely humid, and comfortable—summer.
On the other hand, when you see a character dressed in a bulky tan scarf that blends with the colors of the skyline, you’ll likely get the feeling of an overcast wintery day.
I love integrating clothing descriptions into scenes to avoid writing the blatant “it was cold outside.” And wouldn’t you agree? Using clothing to imply the weather and time of year is a great way to give the reader the ambience of the season.
Sometimes, I use clothing to describe a mood. In my last book Pinnacle Lust, I often used descriptions of clothing to show characters interacting with one another and their level of comfort. From the pages of Pinnacle Lust, notice how Sharon’s tight jeans and sleeveless shirt play an important role in her unwitting seduction of Dr. Sloan—and set the lustful mood:
He lifted me up and set me on the counter, keeping his arms around me. I bet the tight jeans I had on didn’t leave much to his imagination. His lips skimmed over my neck. He studied my smell, inhaling me deep into his lungs and his memory. I took the next step and wrapped my legs around him. It didn’t take long before his hands traveled under my loose, sleeveless shirt. I wiggled closer to him.
As an author, I know that it’s important to use clothing and other minor descriptions to set the scene without making it seem like a fashion show.
This Labor Day, I may or may not be wearing white, but I’ll sure be putting thought and care into what my characters will be wearing—and how it sets the tone of the story’s setting.
What about you? Do characters’ clothing descriptions affect how you perceive the story’s setting?
Enjoy your Labor Day.