When I came across this passage in A.S. King's Ask the Passengers, I marked it as a perfect example of the old saying Show, don't tell.
mother wears expensive high heels all day while she works, even though
she works at home. She wears full business attire, too, and makeup and
earrings and has her hair perfectly styled, even though nobody ever sees
Just by showing us this, the narrator reveals much about
her mother. She doesn't tell us, "My mother is formal. My mother cares
about appearances. My mother likes to feel that she has things under
control." She describes her observations without interpretation. She
shows us her mother, and lets us begin to draw our own conclusions.
Like any other writing advice, Show, don't tell
is not an absolute to be followed at all times. But it's oft-repeated,
and with good reason. And I think this passage is an example of how it
can be done well, and why it usually works.