Monday, April 11, 2016

Costume Changes

I'm watching the first episode on the second season of Outlander. A period piece based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. It's makes me think of a blog post I wrote a while back about outfitting your characters.

We all have a personal style. A way of dressing that makes us unique. We all have a closet containing items we love, the one's that boost our confidence. Those articles  of clothing that make you stand a little taller or sit a little straighter. Then we have the casual stuff. Maybe even the quirky. The pieces we need to make up our work wardrobe. Because of course I'm sitting here all nicely showered and rockin' a great outfit. Not planted in front of the computer wearing a monstrous, seen-better-days black cardigan and wrinkled pajamas.
Of course, our closets also contains the not so great choices. The cast-offs. The clothes that somehow shrunk or stretched in the wash. Your favourite look from the eighties you're hanging on to for no good reason. The dress we bought on impulse. 
Just like our characters.
"Oh, no! Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team, we have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out, you wear knit hats because of Coldplay." Max, 2 Broke Girls

When it comes to creating a character's personal style it's not only fun but necessary to emphasize personality. Every one of the characters quoted above can be considered over the top. Not only by what they say and how they act, but how they dress. Their style reinforces their personality. And a character's style can change to enhance the advancement of the plot or the help showcase their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Which takes me on a little detour into costume design? Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes.
Example: The 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice - The costume designer spoke about Mr. Darcy's wardrobe and how uptight and buttoned up he was at the beginning of the movie. How they gradually loosened him up in terms of wardrobe choices and fabrics to reinforce the changes to his character.
Makes sense, right?
The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It's a great look into the world of costume design.
"I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like."  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It's something to think about when developing characters. We need to think about style in terms of character development, even if it's not obvious or part of the plot. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually it's not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Using subtle changes can make an impact, too.
Do you have a favourite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?

1 comment:

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ack. I forgot all the commenting yesterday.

I really need to think more about what my characters are wearing. I mean, it's all contemporary, so they're wearing pretty much what the people of today wear, but beyond that, clothes are really on my radar. LOL, come to think of it, that's pretty much a testament to my own wardrobe, too.