Clothe your characters carefully because although Manners Maketh the Man, you are instantly attracted or repelled by the appearance of a new person and a lot of that effect is created by what they’re wearing.
Elegant? Tarty? One of the greatest examples of how clothes matter is Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion – better known to most as My Fair Lady. Eliza’s beauty cannot be hidden, but her acceptance depends on much more. She’s the focus of an experiment in speech, but she’s also dressed to fit in with the people the professor wants her to mingle with.
Pretty Lady is the same. Julia Roberts character is so transformed by the cocktail dress, her man doesn’t at first ‘see’ her on that bar stool.
“Peter sketched a tiny bow and Mariah knew he was still smarting from his dismissal the previous afternoon. He straightened and looked past her to study the two ladies making such elegant splashes of colour in the home where visitors usually wore un-dyed woollen garments of no colour and no particular cut. Mariah saw a combative light flash into his pale eyes. No doubt he recognised the resemblance between the women and the family likeness to Mr. Longreach.”
Throughout the book there is a tension between the fashionable and the intelligentsia who might very well ignore the egg stains on their waistcoat fronts. I think it adds to characterisation, but what do you think? Can you see the person inside the packaging?
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