What, This Old Thing?

How much attention do you pay to what your characters wear? I tend to pay it a lot of attention, but I wonder if that’s because writing for teens tends to focus on identity. When a teen character steps out of the bounds of normal for what’s in fashion, it sets up some tension in the book. You know, like Stargirl. I dare you not to feel for her.

Currently I’m writing a character who consistently goes braless and wears longs skirts. Her grandmother was a hippie in the classical sense. It started because I like to wear long skirts. Write what you know? One of my skirts has a special story. It’s a vintage prairie skirt: steel gray, hand-sewn, embellished with small ruffles at the bottom, and designed with layers of hooks and eyes so that it can be fastened no matter how big around the waist you may become. I cannot imagine how long it took to make such a garment. I’ve only worn it a handful of times.

I was living in Southeast Michigan at the time my sister-in-law gave it to me. It had been purchased from a vintage store in Texas. One day as I was slipping it on, I saw a handmade tag sewn into the seam, saying it had been made in Jackson, Michigan – just twenty minutes from where I lived. It may sound silly, but I felt like the skirt had come home. I wondered about it’s travels and how it originally made its way to Texas. What were the women like who wore the skirt? Was the garment simply stuffed into a chest, hated, and never worn? It’s in such good shape that I have to wonder. Maybe I’m the only one to love it, but I do, and even if it hasn’t been worn too much, it has found its way into my manuscript. And speaking of that, I’m off to write.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

2 thoughts on “What, This Old Thing?

  1. I so see you in long skirts. I used to love them but now wear almost all pants.

    Because I write fantasy, I have to describe so much else I totally don’t focus on clothes. But I can see why you would in a YA book. And your clothes choices for your character is perfect. Happy writing!

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