If you've read SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS or can recall the tale THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES, you know the magic such items can add to a story.
No matter if you are writing realistic fiction or fantasy, you can employ the mystery of a tee shirt, apron, or boots in your plot. Consider the many uses of an item of clothing as a metaphor.
If your character wears many old or worn items, it can suggest a weariness.
If you focus on shoes often, it reveals the theme of a journey.
You can also reveal information through what a character doesn't wear. The girl who won't put on a dress. The man who only wears bow ties. The child who wears his yellow rainslicker everywhere.
Clothing can reveal character and theme. An old pair of boots can reflect a character's tired journey. A beloved baseball cap can reveal a character's interests.
In my current manuscript, my MC wears a red ski vest (think Marty McFly). When I'm stuck in my plot, I have the vest do some work. It can rip, causing my MC to find someone to repair it. In the case of my MC (Kathryn), she's having a hard time talking to her mom. Now we have a reason for the two to communicate.
Clothing can get lost. That might lead your character to encounter someone. You've been wondering how to connect your MC with that mysterious little boy in the park. If she has to go back to the park and search for her lost item, the two can interact naturally.
Here are some other possible uses of clothes in a story.
Bought or sold. If your MC needs a new outfit for the dance, he might spot his girlfriend with another guy at the store.
Lost or found. If your MC loses their sweater, she might run into her love interest in the school lost and found area.
Torn or repaired. If your MC rips her skirt, she'll need to go home to change. She might walk in on something at home when no one had expected her.
Found new or used. If your MC visits a consignment shop, he might find his grandmother's missing wedding gown.
Soiled or cleaned. If your MC spills mustard on his shirt at work, he might need to leave the office and avoid an explosion that kills his co-workers.
Your imagination is spinning now.
How will you use clothing in your story? Share your ideas below.