I am looking at a situation where many people are wearing the look and I don't know for sure which one to use between these two:

  1. They had all gathered in the ante-room, wearing a sombre look.
  2. They had all gathered in the ante-room, wearing sombre looks.

Also, is the comma necessary?

  • 5
    Does this answer your question? Do you pluralize the singular possessions of individual members of a plural group? I'd say here the plural works better, but contrast 'in a foul mood' where the mood is communal. But I'd front 'Wearing sombre looks,'. Sep 8 '20 at 15:20
  • If you change "[a] sombre look/ sombre looks" for "a red hat/red hats", you may see the answer.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 8 '20 at 15:29
  • @Greybeard It's not so simple. 'They were in a tight spot' you'll argue is not close enough. But 'They were in a good mood' is idiomatic too. How can one choose which pattern to follow? 'Were wearing a frown' outperforms 'were wearing frowns'. Sep 8 '20 at 15:46
  • Edwin Ashworth, thanks for the links. The first one doesn't quite help my confusion because there is an implied 'each' when it comes to the example sentence used there. I'd say 'each' accepts the singular but 'all' will only take the plural. From the second one, I learn that a good reason may be that the expression is fixed in a certain way. I think its called a 'stock phrase' because it's always said in a certain way?
    – user191110
    Sep 8 '20 at 16:53