Pretty in Comfort

We’re coming into the holiday season, and that means parties and dances and all kinds of festivities abound. Oh, what to wear, what to wear?

THAT is a question, isn't it? For both us and our characters.

I’m writing this post because I had the distinct pleasure of chaperoning a dance for teens a while back, and watching them struggle with their finery always makes me think about clothing trends and about dressing my characters. Sometimes, I think it’s easier for some writers, me included, to dress the heroine than to dress herself. One nice aspect of being a writer is that your characters can get by with outfits you never could without being arrested. For example, Lorelei, my reluctant warrior witch in Disappear, sports nothing but a strap wrapped around her thighs, torso, and chest, which leaves pretty much everything exposed. Then why wear it? Why, because she can!

I like to have fun with my characters' outfits, when they’re actually clothed. Since I’m a nudist and pretty much despise most clothing, the humans and creatures populating my stories spend as much time naked--or is it nekked?--as possible. However, I have a penchant for pretty dresses, so when the opportunity arises, my heroines get to wear dresses I can’t for various reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t just use my characters as mannequins for my taffeta whims or so I can live vicariously and fashionably through them.

Sometimes I feel like a fashion designer who puts energy and effort into a fall clothing line. Hmm, let’s see...I need something functional, professional, and pretty for the police detective, something risqué and vampish for the demon’s sister, and a special blue bikini that makes men weep, or at least makes a part of their anatomy the same color as the swimsuit, for the woman trying to seduce her dead husband’s killer for revenge. Can’t forget the professor with the fine junk in her trunk—gotta give her great pants to wear—or the woman posing as a sex doll who needs something in a nice heat-resistant mesh. Oh, and what kind of wedding dress does one wear to marry a vampire king?

See what I mean? So many characters to clothe, and their clothing has to reflect their personalities. It’s quite a job, but I enjoy it, and while my preferred mode of dress is undress, I also enjoy being a girl and wearing pretty things. To dress up is to transform, and that lets me be quite creative. There is an art to it, though, as I was reminded when I watched dozens of teen girls pulling and tugging, shifting and grimacing in discomfort, removing shoes and maneuvering around in skirts too long for them. All this in the name of beauty and to the sacrifice of fun.

Yep, for me dressing up is almost a science, and I’m not talking about the kind of science used to keep the glamorous starlets looking perfect at the Oscars, like spray tans, pasties, and special girdles. I’m talking about the science of comfort. I may not be the prettiest belle at the ball, but I’m certainly the comfiest. Having attended special occasion dances for ballroom dance events for years, I’ve learned some secrets that not only make life easier, but help prevent letting the wrong attire ruin a perfectly good opportunity to enjoy good friends and good times, and a little romance. Secrets are meant to be shared, so here’s Cameo Brown’s Nudist Tips for Dressing for the Holidays:

1. Wear something you like, but only for the right reasons. Pretty dresses are like handsome men. Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it’s going to look good on you—the man or the dress. Dresses are also like perfume. You have to try them on and see how they work with your own personal uniqueness.

2. Find a dress that FITS. Not SORT OF FITS or ALMOST FITS (no, you will not lose weight before the event, so don’t even deceive yourself), but one that FITS FITS. Nothing looks more unattractive than a young lady (or old lady like me) tugging at various parts of her ensemble, and nothing is more frustrating to an escort than standing outside the bathroom all evening or sitting alone at the table while his date adjusts, readjusts, and adjusts again. Remember, while you’re trying to tuck your titties back into your top, some chick with a dress that fits may be scoping your date, or ex-date as the poor beleaguered sap may end up.

3. Another key component to picking a dress is to remember to pick one that highlights your assets. Hiding your flaws is a negative way to think, though that’s our first instinct. Gotta minimize the big butt. Gotta hide the tummy. Gotta cover the wrinkles on my neck. Gotta boost the saggy bosom. I see many larger size women dressing in blousy dresses to hide their curves, and all that does is make them look larger (I used to do this all the time, so I know that of which I speak). I also have seen really skinny women who wear skintight dresses just because they can, and that’s not a good idea either. They look like silk covered bones, because it only enhances their lack of girth. Another component of this is color--don't go with what's hot this season if it clashes with YOUR season. Are you a summer on the beauty wheel? Then go for those colors that complement the summer skin tone, even if lime green velvet is h-o-t this year. The right color can make all the difference, and let's face it, whatever color works for you is the "new black."

4. I don't want to scare anyone here, but did you know that picking the wrong dress can lead to regrettable sex? Really. If your chosen outfit forces you to wear a variety of special undergarments just to keep everything in place, it guarantees you will spend the evening thinking more about the most opportune moment to get your clothes off than anything else, and thus probably be more relieved than you should be when your date invites you to after party activities. How many women have had sex just to get out of being trussed up in an ill-fitting get-up?*raises hand and looks around sheepishly*

5. Choose your bra carefully, and don’t be afraid to consider not wearing one. Some dress styles allow it; some do not. Consider your bust size and the style of your outfit, as well as your planned activities. Also consider the several different types of brassieres on the market today (which is an entirely different post). The wrong bra can be not only uncomfortable, but bad for breast health as well. I know women who wore the wrong bra size for years, suffering terrible discomfort when they didn’t need to. Most department stores, if you inquire, will have a sales associate who can help measure your bra size, and there are numerous methods available online. Remember properly, er, wrangled titties are happy titties.

6. Shoes—these are so important! First, don’t spend money on shoes you’ll want to remove five minutes after you arrive. And if you do, resist the urge to take them off right away. Nothing screams "skank" (as the teens say) louder than a girl barefoot in a cocktail dress, especially if her top is falling down (see #2 above). Now, toward the end of the evening, losing the shoes as you romp delightfully in a fountain with your handsome date is acceptable. However, tossing the togs three minutes after setting foot in the door is a no-no. Heels don't have to be uncomfortable. Getting not only the right size, but the right height is vital to the perfect shoe. Few women can wear 3-inch heels for any length of time, and one must remember that the height of the heel changes the length of the skirt. Throwing on 3-inchers at the last minute can hike that short skirt up from "Wow!" to "Yikes!" and taking them off can drop your dress from darling to droopy.

7. Finally, if you are going for a little sexy, show some cleavage OR show your legs, but never do both at once. Every dance I go to, I decide up front--cleavage or legs. Wearing something that offers a glimpse of both can overwhelm. You're not going for shock and awe, just aaaaaah.

There are many more, but I have to sign off for now. Just had to share, and I hope you will to. Any dress-up tips out there? I'd love to hear them, especially if I can use them to doll up my characters or myself for the coming holidays.
PS Tip #8--lace and a hunk are always great accessories! See the picture at the top of this post.


Lisa F. said...

Biggest thing to remember: Just because they sell it in your size doesn't mean you need to wear it!

Carly Carson said...

Great post! I'm not a fashionista, but with 3 teenaged dds, I shop a lot. Leaving no time or energy for myself, but that's okay because they are more fun to dress. I have to work to dress my characters though. It's not my natural interest.

Natasha said...

Great post! I often struggle with what my characters will wear. But it can be fun to dress them up - especially in clothing I can't afford to wear :)

Cameo Brown said...

Natasha--it's great to live through characters sometimes. One of my heroines, Mayflower, wore a dress near the end of 2035 that I could never wear just because of the style of it. Love it, but it doesn't look good on me (makes me look like one of those cubes on the Tetris-like games).

Carly--I never realized how much fun dressing other people could be until I got married. Now I have an insight into the male fashion and grooming kingdom I found invaluable. I once asked hubby about a hair style, and he said there are only two kinds, really--in front of the ears or behind them. A priceless perspective. lol

Lisa--Great point! I've found some neat dresses in my size, but, suffice it to say, they didn't flatter. :) Also, I've found different designers think of different sizes, well, differently. A size 10 by one designer is not always the same as a size 10 of the same style from another designer. That can be frustrating!

Nicole North said...

Thanks for the great fashion advice, Cameo!