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Picture-perfect romance: the logic behind couples’ matching outfits

Apr. 23, 2018
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“What are you wearing tomorrow?”

“I don’t know, I was thinking of the black dress with a pink jacket thrown over it.”

“I can match you, I’ll wear a black pants with a pink bowtie.”

“Aw, this is going to look so good."

My boyfriend and I match our outfits when we’re going out for elaborate occasions, from Disneyland to birthday parties to the the upcoming prom. We figure out the general theme we’re going with, build a subsequent color scheme, and weigh in on a few outfit options. 

It seemed natural for the two of us. In our respective home countries, paying extra attention to appearances is the norm. He’s from a country in Northern Europe which is considered the eighth most fashionable country in the world; my Asian culture discourages physical contact as a way of public affection, but wearing matching outfits with your significant other? Go for it. 

Why did we start to do it? It seemed fun, it played out well in photos we took during our dates, and the discussion of outfits the night before became something fun, something we both enjoyed. It was a way of displaying our affection publicly: people knew we were together and cared about each other enough to coordinate our outfits, even if it was just for a trip to the other side of the city.

But where did this begin?  Since when have we associated matching outfits with a display of public romantic affection?

The first thing that comes to mind is Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s full denim look—a bold look even in the midst of odd 2001 fashion choices. The outfits solidified their public relationship. People knew they were together when the duo showed up in those ensembles.

The cultural impact of these matching outfits continued, even weaving its way into 2014 when Katy Perry made this iconic fashion statement with Riff Raff at the VMAs. The singer brought the spotlight back onto matching outfits—especially for the youth of Generation Z.

On the surface, matching outfits may seem like the simple fruition of a uniform, conscious choice made by a couple. With all of the things the couple shares together emotionally and psychologically, however, clothing is a physical commonality for them to share—to look like they are together. The couples in matching outfits? They’re together. You won’t be confused about their relationship status when they’re explicitly showing you that they are together.

Matching outfits are not just for prom—they can be worn anywhere, anytime. Many people think that by wearing matching outfits with your significant other, you are giving up on your own identity, but I have always perceived it differently. The two of you are simultaneously making a joint effort to bounce ideas off of each other’s ideas and taste, coming up with outfit ideas together as a couple. You are not giving up on your own identity, but creating a common ground for the both of you.

Behind the picture-perfect outfit, therefore, is a picture-perfect romance.