Clothes in Books

I ran across an unusual blog the other day. Written by Moira Redmond, a British journalist, it focusses entirely, as its name suggests, on clothes in books, and their importance (or not) to the story being told. I find this interesting, because when I write, I’m never sure how much description of clothing to include. I don’t want it to be distracting, and yet clothing can say so much about a character. Her blog, which she publishes daily, covers all sorts of books, giving an excerpt, a found photo, and Moira’s comments on it. I haven’t read them all, but many are from books written in the 20th century. I wonder whether people were more interested in clothes then?
Here’s one she wrote for mother’s day, with an extract taken from I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. And this is the photo she chose to go with it…
I capture the Castle
Naturally I had to find out what was going on!
You can also follow her at ClothesinBooks on Twitter.

Recent Comments

  • cyclingrandma
    January 10, 2014 - 7:27 pm · Reply

    I think it’s very difficult to find the line between showing and telling. I love when I find a sentence that describes clothing and physical traits so well I can picture it in my head. Write on!

  • GrandmaCharityChallenge
    January 13, 2014 - 12:54 pm · Reply

    Fun entry, Gabi. I didn’t bookmark her blog, but nearly did. I try hard to describe clothes in my memoir. They’re usually African clothes, and sometimes I struggle to find the best descriptive words. OK, I’m going back to bookmark her blog!

    • Gabi Coatsworth
      January 14, 2014 - 12:06 am · Reply

      If I think of African clothes I tend to think of patterns and colours, dashikis for the men and amazingly draped dresses and turbans for the women. But above all, it’s the colours…

    • Gabi Coatsworth
      January 15, 2014 - 6:31 pm · Reply

      I wonder what it is about old-fashioned clothes that makes them so interesting to describe and to read about? Writing about someone wearing goth clothes, or a Lanvin dress doesn’t seem half as exotic as someone in 18th century dress…

      • Beth Oak
        January 16, 2014 - 2:46 pm · Reply

        You’re right. Modern clothes aren’t as interesting to read about, especially when the writer takes the label short-cut. Status labels were such a big deal in 1980s pop novels (Judith Krantz et al). Boring!

  • Moira @ Clothes in Books
    February 11, 2014 - 3:56 pm · Reply

    How nice of you to feature my blog – thanks for the kind words. I enjoyed looking at your website too. I find there are plenty of clothes mentioned in modern books, but it isn’t nearly as much fun to find the illustrations – I love trying to match up old photos with the descriptions, and it just is more interesting to find a 50s skirt or a 30s dress then a modern outfit.
    I am glad to have made your acquaintance….

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