Physical appearance says a lot about a character. Sometimes writers get fixated on internal thought, and readers never get a look at the character’s dress and looks. When using first-person point of view it can be especially tricky, because in our own lives as “I” speakers, we rarely have a reason to launch into an account of what we’re wearing. Other people can see what we’re wearing, and no one is asking anyway.
One trick in first person is to find an opportunity to get your protagonist in front of a mirror or reflection. You might include a scene of them getting dressed, but that could be a bit mundane. (A common item on agent’s no-no lists are chapters opening with characters waking up, showering, etc.) I like the scene in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, when Tim Roth’s character, the undercover cop, sizes himself up in the mirror to see how convincing he looks in the leather jacket. A moment of doubt or self-assessment is a great time to show a character’s clothes. Maybe they’re headed out on a date or a job interview.
The issue of point of view aside, it’s always important that your readers can form a clear picture of what your character looks like, including their physical features and attire.
Prompt: Write a scene by starting with descriptions of a character’s physical appearance and their attire. Choose a style of dress and let the garments and general sartorial demeanor inform and reveal the person. Go from there, and form a scene.
If you use someone you actually saw recently, as I’ve done in the example below, you can include actual conversation as well.