I love this quote by Frank Delaney— “One article of clothing – even the texture of the fabric: tweed, silk, creased linen – will describe an entire character.”
There you have it. ‘Nough said.
Okay, maybe I have a few words to tack on that. Let me throw out a few characters and see if their clothing comes to mind. Sherlock Holmes, Lestat De Lioncourt, and Cinderella (before the fairy godmother).
Could you see what they were wearing? In most cases the author only need mention the article of clothing at the introduction of the character, then make little references here and there.
Sherlock is famous for his tweed. The vampire Lestat for his love of red velvet, and Cinderella had her tattered linen. (at least I think it was linen) The clothes say so much about a person. Now, what about a silk scarf on a man? It’s black, neatly creased and hanging open around his neck. Can you see the rest of his attire? Or even the weather as he walks down the sidewalk?
Hopefully you’re not imagining a hot summer day with a surfer in sandals. You might imagine a handsome man in a business suit. Maybe the sidewalk’s wet? Or snowy? He holds a briefcase in one hand and the latest issue of Wall Street tucked under his other arm.
Have fun thinking of clothing, and describing them. I know I will.