Sunday, March 9, 2008

Look your Best.

As far as I can remember my mother repeatedly told me and my sister we should never leave the house without looking our best. In her book, looking your best includes fashionable clothes and shoes, make-up and jewelry.

After being hospitalized seven times last year for long periods at a time, Mom moved to an assisted living facility. She uses a walker to move around, has to raise her legs most of the day, often inserts an oxygen tube in her nose to breathe better…and swallows so many pills my stomach hurts for her.

Look your Best. My mother practices what she preaches. There is a beauty salon in her building. So Mom has her hair set and her nails done once a week. Salesmen from a couple of stores come twice a month to expose and sell clothes in her facility. My mother is their best client. Although she was a professor, my mother’s hobby has always been fashion designing and sewing her clothes and her daughter’s clothes. She’s always perfectly well dressed in pantsuits, and twin sweaters, would never forget to wear her earrings, bracelets, necklace or rings. Before moving to assisted living, she gave us her precious jewelry, and bought fashion jewelry to replace the real ones. My mother professes that being nicely dressed, combed and jeweled helps her forget she is a very sick person. The other residents compliment her and try to follow her example. The assisted living staff admires her positive attitude.

If I don't wear makeup when I visit her, Mom asks me if I’m sick. When I confess I forgot because I was too busy, I regularly receive a lecture. Basically, it goes as follows: I don’t have the right to neglect myself when I’m healthy; I should realize that an agreeable face and a nice smile go a long way to cheer people who are confined to their living quarters; a presentable person projects a good impression and commends respect.

Needless to say, I’m always aware of what people wear around me. Including my characters.

While authors describe their hero and heroine’s eyes, hair, figure, I always have to describe their clothing as well, to better characterize them and situate them in a scene.

In TO LOVE A HERO, my heroine, Dr. Cecile Lornier is a career woman. You will find her dressed in dark suits that match her profession of serious scientist. When she’s attracted to General Sergei, she will let Tania, her sassy Russian driver, influence her into buying more stylish and colorful outfits.

In FRENCH PERIL, the heroine, Cheryl Stewart, is a young graduate student practically living in jeans and t-shirts. Yet to attract the handsome count François, she won’t hesitate to follow his sister Marilène’s advice and buy a very French black dress.

In my work in progress, the heroine Alexa is a divorcee, living in a condo on the beach. She changes clothes four or five times a day. It’s part of her character. The only time she’s not appropriately dressed for the occasion is so out of character, people around her realize something is really wrong.

I have been giving examples of heroines. Yet the same goes for my heroes.

Are you a fashionista when it comes to your characters? Or do you avoid mentioning what they wear?


Amarinda Jones said...

My characters dress like me - the casual or half thrown together look.

Sandra Cox said...

Great blog, Mona. I enjoyed hearing about your mom and I loved the way you tied your heroines wardrobe in!
I'm enjoying my mug. Sent a thank you from the blog.

Molly Daniels said...

I have a character who does not allow herself to emerge from her dorm room/apartment unless she's in full makeup and accessorized. The rest are like me; comfortable with whatever they've got on and not necessarily wearing makeup.

Anny Cook said...

Mostly I describe what they're wearing--a little-- because the clothing is different.

Kelly Kirch said...

Me too, AJ. Oh wait. I write regencies. Though, I have a tendency to put them in pants. Sorry, it's how I fly.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Mona, it's wonderful your mom still takes so much care of herself and her appearence. I'm afraid I live inside my head and don't give much thought to my appearence. I do think about my characters wardrobe, though. Mainly because their choice of clothing and makeup says so much about their personalities.