Sep 22 2011 8:11am

Wardrobe Malfunction: When Authors Dress Them Wrong

Recently, I read a book where the protagonist wore a lot of Goth gear: Black leather, lace-up pants, huge boots or stilettos, chokers, etc.. And the protagonist was supposed to be a rebel, someone who had gone through a rough patch in her life and had emerged, but had kept the trappings of her previous incarnation as a wild child.

To me, however, the protagonist’s wardrobe was such a cliche it rang false. Because every single item of her clothing was part of the standard Goth wear, it felt like she was dressing like that because she was trying to fit into her unconventional lifestyle rather than choose to dress like that because she actually wanted to. Also, that style of dress has been around for about three decades, so they don’t seem rebellious—more like you went on a shopping spree at Hot Topic.

Perhaps it would not have been an issue if her clothing choices weren’t so lovingly, and repetitively, described throughout the book. But nonetheless, it showed the author had very different ideas about what was cutting-edge fashion than I do.

Has anyone else been thrown out of a book because of something the characters wear?

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Kaye Dacus
1. Kaye Dacus
I haven't been thrown out of it . . . because I can't bring myself to pick it up: Romancing the Countess, a historical romance which shows the heroine on the front cover in a gown with a plunging back. Sure, there are lots in which the back is revealed because it's unhooked/unlaced/unbuttoned and hanging off of her, but this is different---its a modern-style dress on what's supposed to be an early Victorian heroine. And I know the author has little to no control over the cover. But visually, it bugs me to see a historical novel cover with a costume that's so obviously wrong for the era. So I'll probably end up getting the book as an e-book so that I don't have to look at and be bothered by the cover.
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
I now have a burning urge to send the author of aforementioned novel a copy of Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters. No. Scouring the clearance rack at Hot Topic does not make one goth. Missed opportunity for creativity in this one.

As a reader of historicals, I can get thrown out by a clothing item that clearly doesn't belong - though it's double digit years ago, I still shudder at a medieval heroine stepping out of her panties at the start of a love scene. Yep, you read it right. Panties. In a medieval. It haunts me.
Natasha Carty
3. WickedLilPixie
Yes but not thrown out! Charlaine Harris describing Sookie's clothing as "cool" and its always 80's throw back drives me insane!
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
Jean Claude's renaissance meets porno flick wardrobe in the early Anita Blake books drove me crazy.
5. JacquiC
I can't think of a specific book in which this happens, but I find the description of the heroine's clothing as a "sundress" (which I've seen many times in contemporary romances) as completely unromantic, let alone sexy. Maybe it's a flashback to my adolescence in the 70s but to me, a "sundress" sounds pretty hideous (I picture something floral and drapey with a tube-top bodice, I think). So when the story leads to the hero lusting after the heroine in her sundress, I just can't take it... and I'm totally out of the story and the romance.
Louise Partain
6. Louise321
And then there are the ones that are hilarious like Charlie Davidson (Second Grave on the Left) PI and Grim Reaper extraordinare in her pink bunny slippers, being dragged out in the middle of the night to a coffee shop. Totally made the scene -- what happens when your neighbor wakes you up in the middle of the night handing you random clothes.
Jen Kendall
7. JenLovesRomance
I think one of my biggest pet peeves is when author's describe a character to look a certain way but then on the cover they look completely different. As in the heroine having blonde hair instead of brown hair, or same thing with the hero.
Tara B
8. box5angel
I have two wardrobe pet peeves.

1. After the hero/heroine make love (mostly in paranormal romances), they just throw on their clothes and go about their day. I'm like, hello, no shower. Not even a little washup in the important places.

There's one that I read where the hero/heroine made love practically all night and morning, and she gets out of the bed and realizes her stepfather is waiting for her outside. She throws on her clothes and a pair of new panties the hero bought her and rushes outside to greet him.

Granted, they are close and she hasn't seen him in a while but all I'm thinking is the smell of dried sweat, sex and your wearing new panties without washing. Eww And they are shifters, so you know he'd smell all of that.

Also in an YA, I recently read. A popular, really good series in one book the heroine gets woken up by her friends, one of the friends throws her an outfit to wear, she goes into the bathroom, brushes her hair, washes her face and brushes her teeth, and puts on her clothes. No washing up down there or a really quick jump in the shower.

This really, really bothers me. lol

2. The hero wears black jeans. I know there are black jeans out there but the men I know and the men I see everyday (I work with the public) don't wear black jeans. If they are dressed up they wear black dress pants. And if they do wear jeans, whether casual or a little step up from casual it's dark denim not black jeans. And if they do go further than a step up from casual, but still not entirely formal, it's black dress pants they wear. I don't know, just whenever I read a guy wearing black jeans, I think of Dad jeans from the 90s either straight leg or bunched up at the ankle. lol Maybe it's just me.
9. Carrionne
Nearly all of the books in the Fantasyland series by Kristen Ashley include long, overly detailed descriptions of all of the heroines' outfits. Meanwhile, the freaky creatures that constantly attack all of them are so vaguely described that I just picture the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.
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