Lately I've been a little obsessed about a scene for my novel that I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to write. In this scene, John (my protagonist)'s mother, sister, and (sort of)girlfriend arrive in the mountains with great fanfare. They are dressed to the nines, drive a car in (an unusual sight), and generally create an even bigger stir than his arrival did. I want this scene to really capture the huge gulf between upper class Boston and dirt-poor Appalachian farmer. But in order to do this successfully, I have to be able to show these characters to my reader.
Like most things, I figured this would be easy enough. Google 1916 women's clothing, type up a description of their fancy clothes, and bada boom, bada bing, I'd be good to go. But this was not the case. I have scoured every source I can think of online, have viewed fashion plates galore, and have found one--one--description of what I was looking at.
Now, I'm a fairly clever person, but I'm not up to speed on my 1916 fashion descriptors. I have no clue how to describe certain styles of sleeves, bodices, skirts, etc. I haven't the foggiest idea what fabrics these clothes would be made of. What accessories these women would carry. How to describe their hairstyles. If I don't find a source soon, I may have a stroke of some sort. I am desperate to write this scene--climbing the walls with anticipation, and I just can't do it yet.
So I did what I normally do in this situation. I looked up the local library's card catalogue online--and found exactly zero helpful books. So then I consulted amazon.com and found a book that seems promising. It's about the full gamut of 20th century women's dress, so I figure it's an investment in my future sanity should this whole historical romance genre pan out for me.
I have a good feeling about this book. I also have a good feeling about finding the time/momentum to write it. Walking the boys to/from school has been the kick in the pants I needed. I come home inspired and ready to rock the laptop.
The movers are coming Friday to (finally) pick up all the empty moving boxes in our basement. It's going to open up about half the basement when they're gone and I'd like to create an indoor play space for the boys in that area for when winter comes and we're all housebound. Tom has set up my elliptical down there (in front of a DVD player) so I can watch movies while I work out. It would be nice to have space for the boys to be down thre with me.
As that plan materializes, I'll keep you posted...