Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fashion + Passion, By Christie

I’ve been a fashion bug since the first time I helped my mother smuggle a Macy’s bag into the back of the master bedroom closet. Did anyone else’s mom do this? And I must confess the strangest thing…to this day I “smuggle” new purchases into my side of the closet nearly every time I buy. Rarely do I whip out the new fashion items to show my husband on the spot. Now, I know he doesn’t care about my shopping sprees (unless it was at Victoria’s Secret, and then he expects a private fashion show) but it adds to the excitement, I guess, to get it from the car to my closet without detection. Okay, when I confess, it does seem strange!

Anyway, my fashion bug antennae quivered this week when I saw a news item about the new trend in pants…high waistlines. Is it possible? Are we finally leaving the years of butt cleavage, uh, behind? And how long will it take me to embrace the latest trend? I have lots of low rise pants, even though we can all agree that unless you’re twelve, the “waist”lines hit at the exact wrong spot on a woman…the heaviest part of her body. But I’m getting used to that accentuated hip shape those pants give. Will I feel like I’m wearing the dreaded mom jeans when I make the switch?

Worse, I’m not just dressing myself but also my characters, since I write contemporary romances. I buy lots of fashion magazines, InStyle, Glamour, Vogue (though Vogue fashions are usually a bit too runway for my California characters) and dress my people with all the fun I use to have with paper dolls. But I’m writing a book now that won’t come out until next summer. Today, my 17-year-old secondary character would definitely still be in her hip-huggers. Will they seem so yesterday next year?

Speaking of yesterday, I adore reading about fashion in historicals…thank goodness they’re usually peopled by rich folks so I can salivate over the elaborate costumes and rich fabrics. In contemporaries, I have laughed over those chicks and their expensive, Sex in the City shoes, but boy, do I have to suspend my disbelief. Would Jane Heroine really be able to afford those? And often dropping the designer name doesn’t mean all that much to me—and I’m fairly fashion conscious! These days, in my own work I tend to stick more with good ol' description. Velour hoodie instead of Juicy Couture.

As a reader, what’s your taste when it comes to characters’ clothes? Do you, like me, mentally dress the character as described? Or do you prefer to skip over those passages and go on your own? (And, if you want to share, what do you think about the return of high-waisted pants?)


flip said...

There have been times whe I redressed the heroine because the outfit described sounded horrendous. But I like to hear what the heroine is wearing. The name dropping of designers crack me up. It is too 80s.

Helen Brenna said...

Christie, you're killing here. Now what's going to happen to all those long shirts my daughter bought over the past year because all the short belly button showing ones went out of style?

Generally, I read for the story, action, and dialogue and prefer bare bone descriptions of clothing, location, and flora/fauna. I put it in my own writing because I know most readers like to "feel" that stuff, but I tend to add it after I've written my scenes and I go with generic type descriptions. I think, anyway.

As you pointed out, though, teenagers, to feel real, need to look trendy in our books. Tough one, Christie.

Christie Ridgway said...

flip: I've redressed characters too! Sometimes a heroine's hair color will be described and then the shade of her dress and I'm thinking, "Oh, that would look terrible with her coloring! I put her in a different color outfit."

Helen: Well, you're right. A story full of action and suspense can be slowed by clothing description and it really is unimportant when someone's shooting at you! Don't know what we're all going to do with those long tops that go with the low-rise pants. I just bought a couple of long tank tops myself. Hope I can wear them through the summer!

Betina Krahn said...

Sheesh you guys. . . simple solution to the long tanks: tuck them in! But then who takes advice from a fashion Neanderthal like me?

My prediction? Jean waists will rise, but just high enough to allow them to plunge again later. (good marketing) Rationale: Mom jeans or regency jeans or high-waisters --whatever they're called-- just aren't sexy. And what do the young and fit want? To show off the youngness and fitness. So the waistlines may rise, but they won't ever be confused with turtlenecks.

And, okay-- no labels. Just when I was getting into the whole fashion thing for one of my characters. Now when I think about it, it was more descriptions than labels. . . but some of both. I hadn't thought about changes between now and when the book would come out, though. That could really be a problem.

Okay, that does it. In the new book, everybody's going to wear jeans! (And I'm not mentioning the waistline!)

Betina Krahn said...

Oh, and did you know that real cowboys will wear only one brand of jeans? Know what it is?

Hint: it ain't Calvin Klein.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I guess I don't really get into clothing description so much in my writing, and I'll skip over it when I'm reading if it becomes obnoxious. I'm not interested in labels, probably because I know so little about them.

I've enjoyed clothes, but I don't think I have great fashion sense. In recent months I've had some fun with trying on clothes because I've lost weight and it's a pleasant surprise when I try something on and find that I have to go back for a smaller size rather than larger. But I haven't bought much lately. Either I don't know what I want or I'm not sure what I can wear successfully. Does that make sense?

The low-rise was a return to what was in style when I was "a youth," and it seemed to me that it really wasn't working for a lot of people these days. But the very high waist--been there too--is going to be uncomfortable for most people. I'm a great believer in all things in moderation. I like that website that suggests jeans for your body. I think I got it from a suggestion made here. It's

And speaking of styles, I kinda like this yellow, but maybe leaning more toward the cream. Want to encourage posters to comment on colors anytime because we'll be trying lots of alternatives.

Christie Ridgway said...

Betina: Is it Wrangler jeans for cowboys?

Did you guys realize that the photo is Jessica Simpson? Worse than the look of those pants is that icky Elvira hair. While I'm sure she's not naturally a platinum blonde, that dark stuff looks like an ugly wig.

Keri Ford said...

Ack! I thought that was Jennifer Lopez in that photo!

high waisted jeans **involuntary shudder**

That's the perfect thing for my short waisted body! then, when I walk around, it'll give the image that my boobs are sitting on top of my hips!! Just what I need...

I remember a few months back they were advertising those skinny waist jeans **again, shuddering**. Not the fashion YEAH for this wide hips girl with thick thighs.

Instead of vogue and the others, I watch what catalogues come in the mail. When Victoria's Secret's stops selling low rise boot cut jeans, then you'll hear me screaming. I'm hoping designers are moving into a 'lets offer a bit of everything'. If you look through catalogues, then often they'll offer a pair of jeans in several different fits.

Oh, and the yellow is pretty. I also liked the baby blue too. Then again, I didn’t have a problem with the purple! Don’t think I’m being very helpful!

Christie Ridgway said...

Keri: I'd forgotten that about high-waisted pants. I'm short and short-waisted. Ack. That's why I don't mind the low rise and then I wear high heels. Sort of balances me.

But higher-waisted pants elminate the dreaded muffin top look, so there's a good side.

Diane in Syracuse said...

I don't care for the low-rise jeans, and, as Christie says, there are quite a lot of folk who are NOT flattered by them!

I don't know if it's my favorite look in the whole world (though I'm long-waisted, so it's not too bad), but I have some cute print overalls I made the LAST time high waists were in, so maybe I can trim down to fit them before they're over again!

Michele Hauf said...

I'll just be glad if jeans waist rise high enough to cover the 'cracked' view we get more than we need to see nowadays when someone bends over. Jeans on my hips? That's a good thing.

If I'm writing historical I like to describe clothing because historical clothing really does it for me. Frock coats and panniers and lace at the wrists and damasks? Nummy!

But contemporary stories, not so much. It doesn't matter, unless it's a part of the character. When I did the It Girls story it was about billionairesses. They live for designer clothes. So I had to step out of my comfort zone and research stuff like that. What an eye opener. I ended up giving my heroine a $30,000 cell phone (think it was called Vertue). Yep, 30K. Can you imagine? I really can't.


flip said...

A little off topic, but I really loved how the heroine in Carpe Demon shopped at Target and Walmart. She was a real person. I really have a hard time with heroines who buy $500.00 shoes.

A year ago, I won a contest in which I went to LA and shopped with a stylist. She picked out the most beautiful shoes and I loved them. But I had heartburn over the $200 pricetag. It was my hard earned money, but I had a hard time spending $200 on shoes. So when I read about professional heroines wearing manolo blahnik shoes, I just don't believe it. I worked in the professional world and I did not know one woman who spent over $600. on shoes.

Christie Ridgway said...

Diane: I love overalls. Print ones sound really cute.

Flip: Oh, that sounds like so much fun! Shopping with the stylist. But you had to pay the bill? That would tone me WAY down. The most expensive pair of shoes I have ever owned I bought for less than $20! They came from Off Saks Fifth Avenue and had been marked down numerous times. I have really small feet and I love them. My mom (she of the smuggled Macy's bags) is a wonderful shopper and I do have a hard time paying full price. My mom taught me to do things like "watch" a particular item I like and wait for it to go on sale. And now I can do things like try on a dress at the BCBG store (and make sure I like the color and fit), and then buy the same thing, new with tags, for so much less online!

Michele: 30K for a cell phone! It is another world for the very rich, isn't it?

flip said...

No, I did not use my own money. I left out the word "not". I was given money to buy clothes. But it was still so hard to spend $200. on shoes

Cindy Gerard said...

Christie -
Betina never answered but you win. Most cowboys only wear Wranglers. And those cute Wrangler butts drive me nuts. I didn't coin that phrase but there's some truth to it. LOL
Wanna know why they mostly wear Wranglers? It's because the inseam in flat and doesn't chafe the inside of their thighs when they're sitting in the saddle all day. At least that's what MY cowboy tells me.

Keri Ford said...

and this is the best looking pair of wranglers I've ever seen!

JoAnna said...

Usually, I only pay attention to the way a character dresses if it adds to the character. If it is a goth, wallflower, etc.

Otherwise, I usually read the descriptions then forget them:)

Debra Dixon said...

What do you mean high-waists are in??? I just found a low-rise jean that fits.

I don't know who, but I'm writing someone about this.

How COULD they? ::sigh::

Kaitlin said...

To be honest I could do without high-waisted or low-rise pants. I like my pants to hit right at the belly button, thank you. :)

As for that particular style, it makes women look weird because the waistband is usually only an inch or two below the breasts. Makes them look all wonky.

I work in fashion, thankfully a well-known classic style clothing company, but we have to work around the trends. Can make for some interesting phone calls. :)

Kaitlin said...

PS...if you're even remotely heavy (i.e. any hint of tummy), high-waisted is about the worst style you can wear because it makes you look like you're nine months pregnant. I should know. LOL!

Kaitlin said...

Are you sure that's Jessica Simpson? It looks like Posh Beckham. Ugh! She looks horrible! :(

Susan Kay Law said...

RE: expensive clothes. My new book has a beautiful red purse on the cover. My lovely husband thought he would gain many husband points if he found one for me.

The last time he was in New York, he asked some of the fashionable ladies if they knew where he could find a bag like that.

They pegged it immediately. And then they warned him it was kind of pricy. And that it had a year plus long waiting list to get one.

Pricey? He figured maybe 500 bucks. Maybe, maybe a thousand.

Turned out it was something like 24 grand. When he said something like "anybody'd have to be absolutely insane to do that" he got a fair amount of frowns.

Turns out two of the women were on the waiting list.

New York is nuts.


Betina Krahn said...

Yes, Christie and all-- sorry to get back here so late-- it's Wranglers for the real cowboys. But I had no idea why until Cindy and her own real cowboy provided the answer! Thanks Cindy! Another of life's big mysteries solved!

And Susie-- a husband who would spend even half of $500 for a purse is a real hero in my book!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey - did everyone check out Keri's wranglers on the link she left:


Anonymous said...

does anyone know here jennifer lopez got her high waisted skinny jeans from? they look so nice!!! I have to buy them :)