Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Blogger Kate Noble: Fashion and the Story It Tells

Fashion, and the Story it Tells by Kate Noble

Let’s talk fashion.  

I have to admit something.  I’m not really into fashion.  (*dodges thrown chairs*)  And as someone who as two stories out right now that feature fashion heavily (If I Fall and the e-novella The Dress of the Season) this is tantamount to swearing in church.  Listen, I like a new pair of shoes as much as the next girl, but I couldn’t identify Manolo Blahniks on sight.  And I may like watching what the stars wear to the Oscars, but I couldn’t tell you who designed all the prettiness.  The truth is, fashion doesn’t have a big impact on my daily life.

But in my romance novelist life, fashion looms large.  What my characters wear is very important – it’s informed by their station in life, and informs how they act in society. A man in a starched and shined naval uniform is approached differently than one wearing the same uniform but worn through at the elbows and cuffs.  A proper young lady wearing a plain but appropriate costume acts very differently than a proper young lady wearing the height of fashion of the day.   Fashion – in historical romance especially – takes center stage.

In If I Fall, Sarah Forrester recovers from the doublewhammy of heartbreak and social disgrace that stemmed from being dumped by a duke at her engagement ball, by transforming herself into the Golden Lady.  She does this by developing her wit, her laugh, and very importantly, her wardrobe.

 When I saw this silk and metallic embroidered Portuguese ensemble from 1825 at the LACMA Fashion through the Ages, I knew it was Sarah Forrester’s.  I even wrote it –palm fronds and all – into a pivotal scene.   For me, finding this dress helped me find the character.  Any women who wore this dress would not be a shrinking violet.  She would be the center of attention – the Golden Lady.

But what does a golden lady wear when she is not on display at a ball, but still needs to maintain that golden standard?  Well, during the Regency and pre-Victorian Era, British India was highly informative of fashion.  With the advent of new weaving styles and new dyes, it opened up a whole new world to ladies of the ton.  And a curry or saffron colored Indian shawl, along with muslin dress with a bright yellow embroidered hem, would have fit the bill nicely. 

Taking these two dresses together, I began to get a real sense of who Sarah Forrester was.  A well-bred young lady who had branded herself in an effort to hide the pain of her past.  From there I was able to build her character, and her story.  And I hope you find Sarah – and If I Fall –as intriguing as I did.

And now it’s your turn – tell us, does fashion affect how you see characters when you read about them, or does it detract from the story?  One lucky commenter will receive a copy of If I Fall!


  1. I don't think it detracts from a story. I love being taken to a place where I can see it vividly in my mind, which means a lot of the details need to be there so it can see as the auhtor wants us to.

  2. Absolutely, every itsy bitsy details that a writer magically wove in her book affects readers so much, like how her gown looks like or if it goes perfectly with her eyes and hair. It makes me feel like I'm there, in her world. But a big no no that it detracts from the story. You're shallow if you feel that way. (sorry no offense meant) :D

  3. Great post, Kate! When people would say Chick Lit was all about fancy drinks and shopping, I'd say, "Are you kidding me? My characters drink straight from the bottle and the only time they're likely to go shopping is if they need a disguise!"

  4. It makes a really big impact ,it is the detailed descriptions that totally get me,it helps me to create the image in my mindseye.Thank you for the chance to win your book!

  5. Very nice post. I think fashion adds to the story.


  6. The details are what makes the stories pop and stand out in my mind. And as someone who is not an expert on historical dress, it helps to fill in the mental pictures. So please, have them!

  7. I love the dresses in Kate's covers! I always have. :)
    I don't really pay a lot of attention to details like fashion, love it but if a story is good it's not a big deal :)


  8. I don't think my comment posted.

    I think fashion tells a lot about the character and era. Whether the heroine is outgoing or reserved can be symbolized through her choice of clothing.


  9. Hi Kate I am not a fashion girl:). So , no the fashion inside a book will not affect my perception of a book:). Thank you for sharing with us the beautiful gold dress pictures :D, arethazhenATrocketmailDOTCOM

  10. wonder if fashion is your passion beside writing book, actually i love seeing fashion show but i'm not a fashion women at all although when i found something wrong with my clothes even only found one stain i will not wear it anymore :(

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