I need help with a character analysis of Zora, with links to her clothing, in Zadie Smith's On Beauty.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Zora ... [didn't] feel the part; [so] she dressed it instead. How successful this had been she couldn't say. Now she stopped to examine herself in the window of Lorelie's ...

Zora is a classically insecure, hypersensitive, social misfit who makes herself unhappy and whom others find annoying. She can not take on the perspective of her social setting. So when she dresses to impress, like on the first day of classes in her Sophomore year at college, she winds up missing her goal when she tries to "put herself in her peers' shoes" and present an acceptable image through her clothes.

She had been going for ... bohemian intellectual; fearless; graceful; brave and bold ...[in a] long boho skirt ... and a kind of hat ... This was not what she had meant ... This was not it at all.

Just as Zora doesn't know when to quit when dressing--layering ruffles on suede on antique belts on "clumpy shoes" on hats--she also doesn't know when to quit when conversing, or rather when talking in an attempt at conversation. As with her clothes, she overdoes talking and confuses the situation with too much information, too little discernment, and too much self-doubt as she did when in a conversation with Carl:

Carl looked frostily at Zora ... Carl looked down, apparently embarrassed for Zora. Zora blushed and pressed her stubby nails ... [against] her palms.