Normally I'm not the most fashion-minded of people. If I don't have to be dressed up I'm pretty much in a cartoon-character-like repetition of the same outfit day in and day out: jeans and a tank top. When it comes to describing a character's outfit, though, I am anything but lazy.
Why? Because it's costuming. I'm painting you a picture! While I couldn't care less how my closet ranks against the beautiful women of America's Next Top Model, when I have to describe a character's wardrobe my inner fashion designer arrives in a flurry of caffeinated enthusiasm.
So I get rather grumpy with romance authors who keep falling back on this is the only way a woman can dress sexy:
|Google Image Search: tight clothes short skirt killer heels sexy|
Now, there's nothing flat out wrong with this image. She does look very nice. But she also doesn't look very interesting. She's kind of... forgettable, when you get right down to it.
Imagine you're not looking at a picture here, but reading the description of it in a book. Is there anything about this image that really sticks out?
You'll see from my caption the search terms I used to find this image. I'll give you one guess how I decided on those terms. Give up? They are the most common (and in my opinion, most overused) descriptors you'll find in most romance stories, when it comes to describing a woman's sexy getup. This is what 90% of romance leading ladies will wear to an evening out. Inevitably, she's wearing a thong underneath. Of course, it has to be a thong. To read some of these mainstream romance authors, you'd think that for women who want to be sexy, there is no other underwear worth wearing. The thong, by the way, is almost always described as "nothing but a tiny triangle of fabric".
Now, I wear thongs. There are a variety of reasons they are quite wonderful--they don't show panty lines, for one thing. But at the end of the day, I find them a far cry from the height of sensual wear. And let's just for a moment remember that as nice as they are, they also come with a built-in perpetual wedgie mechanic, which much of the time is NOT sexy at all.
Let's talk about how we describe our ladies' wardrobe choices.
First off, if you find yourself using the phrase "leaving little to the imagination" (or something thereof), STOP. Seriously. This phrase should never be a part of your sexy descriptions. Why?
First of all, it's so disgustingly overused it makes me a little sick any time I see it. It's an eye-roller and a groaner, for sure. It's cliche, and you know how I feel about cliches.
Here's the actual image that comes to my mind when I read that any part of a woman's wardrobe "left little to the imagination":
Why? Because that description uses no imagination. It's lazy. When you write that phrase, you might as well be telling readers you've put no thought into what the woman is actually wearing and why it is sexy. You rely on the implied lack of clothing to tell us she looks good, but you can't even be bothered to explain in what way it makes her looks good...only that what she's wearing is skimpy.
Here are a few other generally relied-upon "go-to's" in the erotic description category:
Tight clothes. Because tight = sexy.
Black bras (and thongs, of course!)