“I’m just taking your temperature; on a scale of one to ten, how much trouble am I in with you?”
— Poe Dameron
Are you really…. not supposed to…. describe what your characters are wearing….
I think there’s a great deal of misinformation on this topic.
I believe it’s fine to describe what your characters are wearing. However, like all things, it should serve some kind of purpose.
For instance, describing winter clothes helps impart to the reader a sense of how cold it is. Describing summer clothes helps explain how warm it is.
Describing an outfit before a social event gives a window onto the character’s sense of fashion, or explains their reverence (or lack) for the event; for example a character can wear a black suit to a funeral, or watch from a distance while wearing a t-shirt and jeans. These impart a different attitude.
An outfit may be described purely to give a little more interest to a character; to give the reader a bit more insight into who they are, through the way they present themselves. It may have no greater significance to the wider story but this is still a reason to do it.
So the “purpose” doesn’t need to be super-vital to the story. It can be just because “describing this to the reader helps them appreciate the character or scene”, but that’s still a purpose.
I like that last comment because I think it can apply to a lot of things in storytelling! Anything that shows some element of your character has a purpose to the story even if it doesn’t exactly advance the plot.
I think too there’s also the matter of how it’s described.
“I was wearing a purple hoodie, black skinny jeans, and checkered converse.”
“I wiped my palms on the thighs of my jeans. Black was the best color for when you’re going grave robbing – the dirt and blood didn’t stand out as much. Sadie flung the shovel back with a little more force than was necessary, flinging hunks of dirt onto my shoes. I paid 85$ for these limited edition checkered converse, and while perhaps I shouldn’t have been wearing them to grave rob, I didn’t have anything else. I pulled Abby’s shirt out of the pocket of my hoodie, running my fingers over the fabric. It was covered in purple lint from my jacket, but she wouldn’t care anyways. She was dead”
Treat the clothes as an aspect of the character and the situation. The first one is just information about one thing thrown at the reader, whereas you get the same information in the second, but you’re also presented with a situation, thoughts behind the dress choice for the situation, and a reaction from the reader (why is the character going grave robbing? Who is Sadie? How did Abby die?). You get so much more out of your story and your character.