Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Are You Wearing?

Image by Rockandbacon, via Flickr
Look at yourself right now. What are you wearing? Clothes of some sort, right? If the answer is ‘no’ well, that’s a post for a different time.

However, let us assume that there is clothing of some type draped about your form. Work clothes. Stay at home clothes. I’m not feeling well and this is comfortable clothes. Gardening clothes. Cleaning out the garage clothes…you get the picture. Clothes are the outer signs of your role for the day or night. Sleeping? Baking? Making a court appearance? There are clothes for that.

There are clothes which identify your work role. Nurse. Lab technician. Judge. Surgeon. Armed forces personnel. All clothes - not costumes.

A costume isn’t your clothes. It’s something you have to get accustomed to wearing. It’s different. It could be awkward to wear; maybe it’s long or heavy. It might be something you wear on a special occasion. Whatever it might be, it’s unusual for you to be wearing it. You’re aware of it. No one is aware of their clothes. They’re just clothes. Even those who adorn themselves in designer togs from head to foot wear them casually. If they don’t - then it’s a costume.

No one lives in costumes; not even actors. For actors, costumes are work clothes and the trick is to make, whatever form or shape the garment happens to be, be clothes. The costume is the character’s clothes. It’s normal for him/her to be dressed like that. They don’t give it a second thought.

It’s obvious when someone isn’t comfortable in their clothes. This can be a good thing for writers/actors/readers because then the questions start. Why are they uncomfortable? What are they doing that’s new or strange? Etc.

Take a look the next time you’re out and about. Who’s comfortable in their clothes? Who’s not? You may find the inspiration for your next story.

Elspeth Futcher is a bestselling author of murder mystery games and playwright. She has been the top selling author at since 2011. Her British games are published by Red Herring Games in the UK. Her latest game is "Which Guide Lied?" Elspeth's 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias and also appear on this blog from time to time. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.


  1. Today's post presents some intriguing possibilities in story development: a character suddenly thrust into the witness protection program, one who's hiding from a controlling family, one who's escaping a homicidal mate, a character who just won the lottery, one who's gone from blue-collar to white-collar, one who simply wants a change--a new lifestyle, and the list marches on. This is a keeper, Elspeth.

    1. In all the above cases, a less than comfortable wardrobe could play a significant role.

  2. Age is a big consideration when choosing a wardrobe. When you're young, you wear what's in fashion, even if it's 5" heels, even if they kill your feet. You're dressing for others. Middle age is practical time. You tone things down, still care what you look like, but maybe not as flashy. Seniors, both men and women, just want to be comfortable. Period. They care enough when they go out to spiffy up a bit, but otherwise, who cares. No one looks anymore.

  3. Clothing is a great way to define character. How do they prefer to dress? How does society force them to dress? Their job? Their hobbies? Do they dress to impress, to blend in, or to rebel?

  4. I agree with Polly, at my age, I just want to be comfortable. Period. I don't even bother to spiffy myself up except to change from baggy sweatpants to jeans. And costumes. Not happening!

  5. Well, my clothes today don't define my profession, unless one buys into the "sloppy writer" persona. LOL Seriously, I do love the fact that we can dress however we please while we are typing away on our keyboards.

    However, I do love costumes, and often wear something that makes me feel less like Maryann Miller and more like someone else when I am doing events. I think many of us writers find ways to overcome shyness that way.

  6. Black. Almost every day, no matter what season. Now my characters are entirely different.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook