In part one of World Building: Clothing, I talked about Why, what, and when, and covered ideas on how to get a stronger sense of depth when dressing your characters. In part two, I’m going give you some tips on maintaining continuity when writing your world.
- Research, research, research
- Time Period
Research, research, research
I really can’t say this enough. When building worlds you need to research, and clothing is no exception. You need to understand the purpose of clothing from the time period, and why they wore it. There are many ways to research for your writing.
- I wrote a series of articles about using video games to research for writing, and it is very applicable for clothing. In a game you can see them in action, where they are warn, and [in the case of an item based RPG, eg. World of Warcraft] learn the names of them.
- Watch films set in the times period. Creating a culture with gladiators? Watch the Gladiator.
- Read novels with a similar setting.
- Google. You can’t go wrong with Google. It should be your first stop for any research project.
Even if your world is wholy fictional, establishing a period it is set is still quite important. It gives the reader bearings on what things look like in your world. Some time periods to consider researching are:
- Victorian [steam punk]
- Medieval/Viking Age/Dark Ages
- Ancient Rome
- Ancient Greece
- Ancient Egyptian [warm climate]
- Biblical times
What your clothes are made of is very important to know. Not only so you can describe their feel to the reader, but also because you need to know where they come from. If there are very few sheep in your world, wool will be expensive and maybe even worn as a status symbol.
A list of fabrics
- Silk – from silk worms
- Linen – made from Flax
- Cotten – from cotton plant
- Wool – Sheep
- Leather, animal skins – Traditionally cow, dear, wolf
- Alpaca fleece – from an Alpaca (not a llama.. llamas are pack animals)
Hopefully you took away some good ideas and extra things to consider when designing your characters clothing. In the next, and final article about clothing I will be covering jewellery and accessories, in a similar vein.
Thanks a lot for reading. In the next worldbuilding instalment I’m going to give some tips on designing jewellery and artefacts for your world. Are there any extra things you consider when developing clothing for your characters? What do you think of this list?