Many things go into building your characters. How they look physically, their personality, any quirks they may have. But style is another way to ‘breathe life’ into them. Your character’s style gives additional insight into their psyche. It shows the reader part of who your character is, without telling them she’s a ‘tomboy’ or he’s ‘preppy’, the reader is shown this by how your character dresses.
Choosing your character’s style is a lot like creating a wardrobe for them. You get to pick her prom-dress or his swim-trunks. You get to choose sneakers over heels, or denim over silk. This wardrobe is so important because choosing poorly, or leaving this out entirely, could make a big difference in how a reader connects to your character. Their style needs to match their other traits so that it’s not constantly in conflict with the other things we know about him or her.
The style also needs to represent your character’s unique setting. In other words, a sixteen-year-old girl in a contemporary setting is not likely to wear a shawl (yes I did that, but have since given her a sweater). On the flip side though, if she was a sixteen-year-old girl in the previous century, then the shawl might work.
Another reason style is so important is that it gives you another place to have a story arc. Your character can go from dressing in all black all the time, to wearing khaki pants and bright colored shirts depending on how they’ve developed throughout the story. Even in dystopian stories where everyone wears the same thing, style can still be shown. For example, in MATCHED by Ally Condie, the choosing of the green dress was integral to the story.
I encourage all of you to ‘go shopping’ and create your characters an awesome wardrobe.
P.S. Happy Election Day! (That's all I'm going to say about that since I'm really tired of all the mail and phone calls and TV/Radio adds that seem to bombard me everywhere I go.)