‘Classy and fabulous’: The heroine’s style in my novels

‘Classy and fabulous’: The heroine’s style in my novels

‘Classy and fabulous’: The heroine’s style in my novels

‘A girl should be two things,’ said Coco Chanel: ‘classy and fabulous.’ Certainly, this is the ethos I have in mind when I write the heroines of my novels. One of my favourite aspects of characterisation is to consider the heroine’s style, and I must confess I am a big fan of dressing them to impress!

Today, I’m taking you on a little tour of the style in my novels, from chic business-wear to fabulously glamorous occasion-wear – clothes to make a woman feel strong, confident and beautiful.

Career is important to my heroines, and so they dress to be taken seriously as professional businesswomen. But this doesn’t mean compromising their femininity. Here is Luna, heroine of Legacy, dressing for a conference (where, unbeknownst to her, she will meet her future lover; good job she took care over her appearance!):

Luna chose a pure silk, crepe-de-Chine suit in light pistachio. The design was classic, feminine and chic, with pointed lapels and gold buttons. She put her hair up in an elegantly simple ballerina chignon and kept her make-up to a minimum. With jewellery, likewise, Luna’s motto was ‘less is more’, so she wore a pair of classic button-style earrings in twenty-four-carat gold with a subtle web pattern, which were discreet without being apologetic. A wide gold bangle adorned her slender wrist, giving the finishing touch to a very slick outfit.

Glancing in the mirror before leaving the room, she ran her hands over the matt silken surface of her suit and slipped on a matching pair of Charles Jourdan signature high-heeled pistachio pumps. Her reflection was professional and elegant – exactly the image she wanted to portray.

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Here’s another of my favourite Chanel quotes: ‘Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.’ In Aphrodite’s Tears, when archaeologist Oriel arrives on the Greek island of Helios she must prepare to meet the island’s leader and her new boss, Damian. She opts for a simple jade-coloured sleeveless dress, understated and well-cut but feminine. I write:

Oriel looked at herself critically in the mirror, wondering whether or not to put on make-up. Having good skin, she often didn’t bother with it, particularly as it was not practical for work. Perhaps because of that, she delighted in having the opportunity to indulge her feminine side and having lovely clothes was her specific weakness. If she were to spend her days knee-deep in dirt and covered in dust, Oriel reasoned, she could at least take pleasure in dressing nicely in her time off. Large green eyes with glittering brown flecks stared back at her from the glass, their long dark lashes in arresting contrast to her hair. Deciding less was more, she touched some pink gloss to her soft full lips and some highlighter to her high cheekbones, emphasizing the good bone structure of her heart-shaped face. Finally, she slipped on her dress. As expected, the steam had relaxed the few wrinkles and the rich material moulded her slim figure to perfection, hugging her slight curves in all the right places. The warm jade of the silk jersey was well suited to her colouring, reflecting her eyes and giving them a mysterious quality. Yes, she thought, she looked older than her age and subtly sophisticated enough to meet the island’s dragon. Confidence was what she needed; now she looked the part.

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Later in Aphrodite’s Tears, Damien takes Oriel on a trip to the village of Oia, and admires her outfit, a form-fitting black jersey maxi dress with a deep V halter neckline at the front and an open back. ‘For an archaeologist, you have a very enticing evening wardrobe,’ he comments, to which Oriel replies, ‘I like to have a few emergency nice outfits in my travel case. It’s a weakness of mine.’

In The Echoes of Love, architect Venetia gets the chance to dress up as part of her work, when she attends an exhibition of all the palazzi in Venice that her company has restored.

Standing in front of her cheval-mirror, Venetia studied herself with critical eyes. She wore a blush silk chiffon bustier-gown that showed off the curve of her shoulders and delicate collarbones. From the cleavage of the snug, draped bodice, the petal-thin material fell in a cascade of romantic folds to the floor. The internal corset, which consisted of an under-wired bra and boned waist, molded her to perfection, ensuring a statuesque silhouette…

She chose her jewellery with care, not wanting to overpower the dress. After going through her jewellery box, she finally chose a dainty pair of shoulder-grazing 18-karat gold and diamond zigzag earrings, and a matching lightning-bolt gold and diamond bracelet. Just before glancing into the mirror for the last time, she slipped on transparent pin heel sandals – all the craze that year – that maximised the floor-sweeping cut of her dress. She took a deep breath. She was ready to go.

The Echoes of Love

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In Concerto, the heroine Catriona must dress not for work but for art: she is to sing an aria from Madam Butterfly in a prestigious competition to win a place at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris. The stakes are so high, she really must look the part of a world-class opera singer.

When she surveyed herself in the long cheval mirror Catriona was amazed at her own transformation. Her gown was a warm sunny yellow, cut in simple and subtle lines from cascading chiffon that she and Marguerite had bought after she’d been chosen as one of the two finalists. Its sunny colour reflected its golden tones on her already tanned skin. The long, elegant dress was of Grecian inspiration, crafted with a wrap-effect front and nipped in at the waist. The fluid design had a full skirt that moved gracefully when Catriona walked and the deep V neckline revealed just enough cleavage to be seductive without being too provocative. For the occasion Marguerite had lent her a simple classic Zolotas twenty-two carat yellow hammered gold necklace and matching earrings, which added the last glamorous touch to her outfit. Slipping into delicate gold metallic stiletto-type sandals, she glanced once more at her reflection in the mirror for reassurance.

Concerto by Hannah Fielding

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In Masquerade, Luz dresses for a night at the theatre too, and she goes all-out with her outfit.

As they walked in through the large arches of the main entrance, Luz was unaware of the effect her singular beauty was having on people. Men turned their heads as she passed and women threw her envious glances. She wore a midnight-blue silk-chiffon full-length dress, which skimmed her body and moulded her form to perfection. Its deep colour reflected in her large eyes, giving her irises a violet tint and setting off the radiant nature of her skin, which glowed even more warmly under her newly-caught tan from the beach. The dress had a plunging neckline and a knotted bodice from which the skirt fell into a profusion of soft folds. A fabulous necklace cascading with different-sized gold beads hung down to her cleavage, ending in a cluster of small gems fashioned as grapes. She had teamed it with a matching pair of earrings and stiletto sandals. Her long raven-black hair was tonight worn loose to the hips and acted as a cloak around her naked shoulders. The whole effect was striking.

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My heroine Coral, of Burning Embers, is less self-assured meanwhile, and wonders what she should wear on an evening out with the hero, Rafe.

Coral glanced at her watch — time was marching. She must make up her mind between pink, black, and sapphire blue. Pink was nice, but she thought it a little bit too “coming out ball.” Her beloved black Radley dress, sophisticated and chic with its delicate satin straps, nipped in waist, and long column skirt, was so Breakfast at Tiffany’s but maybe too formal for this occasion. Finally, her eyes shifted to her third option. Coral ran her fingers thoughtfully over the layers of diaphanous fabric. It had been especially created for her to match the deep blue color of her eyes. The memory of the one time she had tried it on brought a rueful smile to Coral’s face. There had been no wedding and no ball afterward, so it had remained neglected in her wardrobe. She would wear it this evening for Rafe. That decided, Coral finished getting ready, and as she spent time getting her hair and makeup right, she was aware that the prospect of spending a whole evening with Rafe was making her pulse race a little.

“You’ll be the belle of the ball,” Aluna proudly told her as she helped Coral slide into the silky georgette gown. The Grecian-inspired garment with its cascading draping, plunging neckline, and low back was figure-enhancing. Coral slipped on delicate, high-heeled sandals, giving height to her slender silhouette. She hesitated before adding a gold Roman arm cuff studded with sapphires and a pair of matching dangling earrings that were specifically designed to complement the outfit. Deciding it would be too much, she laid aside the coordinating necklace.

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‘Belle of the ball’ – such a romantic notion, and so of course it appeals to me when I write romance. Could I write a heroine in jeans and trainers and baggy shirts, who’d wear something woefully unstylish on a date? I don’t think so. I just love to write heroines who are classy and fabulous!

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3 years ago

I love the clothes they wear in your novels, it makes me want to dress up and feel as gorgeous as they do!

It’s one of the reasons I adore your books, they are so full of beautiful clothes and shoes (alone with the foods and places)

Looking forward to your next novel, when does it come out?

Michelle xxx