In chapter 2 of “The Great Gatsby,” Fitzgerald introduces Myrtle as a working-class woman obsessed with the upper-class way of life. When Nick and Tom visit George Wilson’s garage on the edge of the valley of ashes; Myrtle is dressed in a “dark blue crepe-de-chine” (Fitzgerald 25), that reveals her “perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering” (Fitzgerald 25). While in this attire, Myrtle emerges as a sensual and vital woman who is uncomfortable with the struggles of the poor working class. While on the train ride to Manhattan, she is adorned in a brown dress that significantly reveals her curves. Sometimes upon her arrival in the apartment, Myrtle changes into an elaborate afternoon dress. Although the change of attires may pass as a routine, it, however, signifies Myrtle’s desire for change owing that the change of clothing is accompanied by character transformation.
It is worth noting that the character of Myrtle changes the moment she makes a change of clothing. During the party in Manhattan, Nick notices Myrtle’s shift in attitude because of what the author described as “the intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur” (Fitzgerald 30). Unlike in the opening scene, when Myrtle carried the aura of a middle-class woman in a dark blue dress, the cream-colored chiffon accorded her a sense of entitlement to Tom and hence changed her character as well. The change of behavior is inspired by Myrtle’s believe that clothes make the lady, and as such, the change of clothes makes her equal to Daisy. In other words, the change of clothing demonstrates Myrtle’s desperation to pose as a sophisticated and aristocratic woman in spite of her humble background. When Myrtle removed her attires and put on another one, so does she remove the aura of poverty and put on the appearance of wealth that she values most. Overall, as Myrtle makes a change of clothing, she transforms from a more sensuous, physical persona into a character that desires to pass as wealthy.
Fitzgerald, Scott F. The Great Gatsby. Simon and Schuster, 2001.