characters / descriptors / writers resources / writing

How To Describe Your Character’s Appearance

When you’re writing about your protagonist, you want the reader to see them–their clothes, shoes, the 891389868_b3506b074fscarf they wear, that old-fashioned belt buckle that shines in the sunlight. These images will engage readers in the plot as they watch a movie inside their brain, complete with a fully-described cast of characters. The more unusual you can make an article of clothing or accessory, the more memorable:

Here are some ideas for colorful descriptors:

  • Round spectacles tinted pink
  • John was wearing tan slacks and a powder-blue golf shirt, a thick gold chain around his neck. He chewed gum. Mary looked at him and thought, Perfect.
  • The driver was a big guy, wearing a steel-gray suit, wine-colored necktie and sunglasses. He looked like one of Warren’s security people: good physical condition and too big for the Corolla.
  • Wore a rumpled suit and a tie that wasn’t knotted properly
  • Wore a faded gray David Lynch Rules sweatshirt, wrinkled cargo pants, high lace-up boots
  • Tight beige cotton pants and a loose cotton shirt striped with shades of blue and pink and red. No panty line.
  • Tweed jacket, coat
  • Tight sleeveless tunic over crop pants
  • Despite that, and the ugliest Aloha shirt I’d ever seen
  • With their beaded purses and gem-studded slippers, their arched eyebrows and raccoon eyes
  • Dust-streaked plaid shirt and faded Levis
  • graying heavyset man with wire-rimmed glasses
  • his t-shirt contoured around his body like wet kleenex
  • Sturdy, compact body, neatly dressed in a pressed suit, shined shoes and perfectly rolled-up sleeves
  • Tan jacket. Brown pants, black shoes, a groove in his forehead from a hat now resting on his lap.
  • The heavyset copy wore an ill-fitting gray suit over a pale blue shirt and a 1980’s navy blue tie. . Taking fashion direction from NYPD Blue
  • Frisson of fear (delicious)
  • Dangerous stillness about him
  • wore martial arts slippers
  • the collar of his greatcoat
  • poor taste in clothes
  • Top button of his shirt was undone, exposing his undershirt
  • Chunky, square-faced, with short, curly hair and a bald spot at the crown of his head. He had small back eyes, fight scars under them, a nose that had been hit a few times.
  • Middle-aged, wavy-haired brunette packed tightly into a peacock-blue knockoff Chanel suit.
  • Barrel-chested, rust-bearded fireplug, five-six in thick-soled shoes, with sturdy, hirsute wrists and lumberjack hands. He wore a yellow-and-blue window-pane shirt, a big-knotted red tie of gleaming silk brocade, leather knit suspenders.
  • His hand was still damp—from the water faucet in the restroom, Virgil hoped.

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2 thoughts on “How To Describe Your Character’s Appearance

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