Clothes Make the Heroine

Dangerous Loveby Lilou DuPont, author of Dangerous Love

In my new novel, Dangerous Love, the heroine, Laura, is a chic city girl who leaves a successful advertising career for a Bohemian adventure in Prague. Although not explicitly stated, the story takes place a few years before the Great Recession. Laura is able to exercise stock options worth tens of thousands of dollars to pay for her trip and – evidently – a large wardrobe.

The book opens with Laura attempting to mimic the style of the young Prague princesses by wearing zipper-less black pants and a transparent white blouse. A peasant dress with a low scooped out neckline takes her from Prague to Vienna to Bratislava in the span of 12 hours: She had been living in this same floral frock since the morning. It had seen an illicit blow job, a jail cell, and sex in an ancient synagogue.

When feeling reckless, she wears an Urban Outfitters t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, “My boyfriend won’t care ’cause he won’t know.” (I actually owned and wore this.) Recovering from a devastating breakup, Laura dons a black gossamer dress, black lipstick, and combat boots. What had possessed Laura to leave the house in this Gothic get-up? The answer was obvious. She was in mourning.

I sometimes wondered, am I dressing my heroine as if she were my paper doll? Or is being a fashionista one of her character traits? I conclude that both are true, but there is more.

For years, I also had a strong proclivity for shopping, buying new apparel before traveling, an important business meeting, a hot date, a family celebration. Often I needed no excuse. My goal was to look like the person I aimed or believed myself to be. It still is.

I dressed Laura not only for the occasion, but to express her inner life and emotions. One of my favorite chapters, (Sexbombe), takes place after a night of edgy sex between Laura and two men. That scene ends with one man leaving and one man – Byron, our hero – staying behind. For the first time, Laura and Byron declare for each other their love.

The next morning:
She chose the little black dress that was intended for evening . . . The sun blinded her eyes and she put on her vintage 60s shades . . . Her shocking pink and lime green sneakers notwithstanding, she was dressed from head to toe like a movie star. Who is that girl?

Rereading the above, I recognize that I, at one time or another, possessed every item described (even the garish sneakers, clearly ahead of their time). Truth be told, I have owned and worn nearly all of the outfits Laura wears in the book. Could it be that simple? That while penning away at the local Starbucks, I looked down at my clothing and wrote what I saw.

What is your favorite outfit and what does it say about you?

8 thoughts on “Clothes Make the Heroine

  1. jw ashley

    It’s interesting: the relationship you and your character share with fashion. I used to spend a lot of time playing with and buying clothes. But, when I moved from the U.S. to Taiwan, I had to leave most of my wardrobe behind and I found shopping in my new country more challenging and less fun. So, fashion sort of slipped onto the periphery. And now, three years later, my heroine wears Japanese-styple robes, cares little for fashion, and finds herself confused by blue jeans!

  2. Jaye Shields

    Lilou, I do this too! The first time my family read Secrets of the Jaguar (June 2012), they were a bit freaked out because the heroine wore all my favorite clothing items, including my signature viking boots and bright blue peacoat. When she took them off to commence a naughty sex scene, my family were quite scandelized! I don’t do this anymore. I really want my characters to have their own wardrobes and quit borrowing mine!

  3. Erin Richards

    I always adorn my characters with jewelry similiar to what I wear, rather than my wardrobe. Having a corporate job, I get stuck in boring clothes at times, so I like my characters to wear more hip clothes. But I’m a sucker for accessories and my characters reflect that!

    1. Lilou

      Hi Erin, Thank you for stopping by! I like your comment about the jewelry. Looking forward to reading about it (and your heroine’s hip clothes) in your upcoming book, Wicked Paradise!