In a twist that absolutely NO ONE saw coming, an avowed Repeller maaaaay have attracted someone with whom they have entered the couple-form. Luckily, this person already cares about fashion and dresses well (showing them HR on our first date was a risky move, but it paid off, I think?). But it has got me thinking about couple’s fashion, which has always fascinated, disturbed, and enticed me.
Note: what I refer to as “couple’s fashion” is a worthy endeavor for siblings, friends, cousins, whatever. You don’t have to be dating your fit partner for this to be a sick activity.
The best couple’s fashion incorporates three tenets: balance, free association, and gender fuckery. Balance is self-evident: the two outfits should incorporate some of the same shapes/colors/concepts but interact with each other in such a way that the fits look better as a gestalt than separate. Free association allows the individuals in the couple to express their own personal iterations of the basis of the look and keeps things loose, avoiding the “Sibling Christmas Photoshoot Effect.” Gender fuckery is essential, whether this entails leaning in to perceived binaries, subverting them fully, or eschewing them altogether.
Here are some couples’ looks that I love, most of which incorporate all three tenets, though some don’t. Here, I’ll explore what does and doesn’t serve the couple-fit agenda in each of these stylings.
Literally any couple that counts FKA Twigs as one of its constituents is bound to have excellent style, no matter how schlubby the other member may have been before the genesis of the pairing. Sadly, Twigs has many great looks with her ex Shia but since news of his abusive treatment of her is public knowledge, I didn’t want to glorify that couple with any analysis. Fortunately, her looks with ex Robert Pattinson are also consistently fresh. In the above, their grey tops and dark accessories tie their fits together, while the shiny, sateen textures of Twigs’ jacket and gloves activates and is grounded by Pattinson’s matte and knit textures. With the drama of a beret, messy cat-eye, and driving gloves, Twigs looks like a piece of expensive art and Pattz’ chore coat and baseball cap give him the appearance of Some Guy who was lucky enough to witness this art in person. Couples’ outfits can entail one of the pair bringing the drama while the other grounds it in casual comfortability.
In this look, both Twigs and Pattz up the ante on the Just Some Guy look, Pattz hanging on by the skin of his teeth (if the jacket had been black instead of an inspiring shade of green, he would have looked downright boring) while Twigs pulls her weight with boxy striped trousers and a structured jacket with contrast seams. I love outfits that look like they could easily be swapped and have the same overall effect–in fact, if it were Twigs wearing the relatively mundane outfit on the left and Pattz in the more creative iteration of casual wear, this look would be more successful because Twigs’ femininity and piercings would have made the Some Guyness more complex. Luckily, Pattz has since leaned in (whether of his own volition or a PR-savvy stylist, who can say) to more dramatic, flamboyant, and feminine fits.
What this teaches us is the value of a couple’s look that seems like it could be swapped, and that sometimes the fits SHOULD be swapped. If you have a partner, next time you go out, consider switching outfits to the extent that pragmatics such as size and shape allow. You don’t even have to wear all of the same exact clothes, for instance, in the fit above Twigs could have copped Pattz’ top, cap, and jacket with her own straight-legged jeans while Pattz could have worn Twigs’ jacket with a white tee and his own pinstriped trousers.
Moving on from the Twigs/Pattz paradigm, another exemplary couple is @rubyredstone and spouse @gsommr whom I encountered on Instagram next year (they are now expecting a child any day/Ruby might have recently given birth! Big congrats and wishes of health and joy!) and whose fits go hard individually and are spectacular in tandem. As wedding guests (pictured above), they found balance in color (mostly pastel with shocks of deeper hues) and level of formality (suit, dress, satin purse duking it out with t-shirt, cowboy boots, and not-pictured sneakers).
If Ruby had worn fancy shoes, this look would have seemed a little too “fancy woman brings her underdressed spouse to a wedding, everyone shocked and appalled” but her sneakers cement the intentionality of his wardrobe choices. If Gabriel had worn a traditional, dark suit, the cowboy boots and t-shirt would have seemed gimmicky and superfluous. Happily, these two made all the right choices: the powder blue suit cements the levity of the cowboy boots and exemplifies a form of masculinity not predicated upon seriousness or withholding, the masculine aesthetic of Elvis and Little Richie and the dudes in a John Waters movie, Ruby’s sneakers signify that they are in this look TOGETHER (aww), and the color palette is delicious and unexpected.
The attention to detail in this look seems incidental enough that it could have been accidental, one example being the visual balance of his chunky black glasses with the black cowboy boots that would have been lost if he had worn, say, white sneakers like Ruby. 10/10 couple’s look, could be riffed on with two suits or two dresses or jumpsuits or whatever to accommodate any desired gender presentation and as long as the formula of hue matching + levity + attention to detail (notice they are both only wearing gold jewelry!) was followed it’d turn out fantastic.
Two more unimpeachable looks. On the left, the use of mostly neutrals, though different neutrals, with one focal point of bright tie-dye characterizes both fits. Both she and he also introduce elements of chaos into their outfits with inventive layering and socks that don’t “match” the looks but don’t clash violently, but top them off with collared jackets to give the fits structure and correspondence. It’s likely these two just rolled out of bed and grabbed whatever, their senses of style are probably so aligned from years of living and dressing together that they don’t have to coordinate as intentionally as I am suggesting here, but this is an S-tier couple’s look and I wanted to appreciate and dissect it.
On the right, another formal look. This one’s coherence originates from a shared sense of drama manifested in two completely different ways: his fit suggests a pop-punk schoolchild’s rebellious phase, while hers goes full English orphan looking for a new family (mysteriously, all the people who have tried to adopt her thus far have met grisly ends). Though nothing about the color palettes of the two looks relates, the volume of the puffer jacket and the puffy blue sleeves, the fact that they’re both in dresses that end shortly below the knee, and the two different interpretations of the “troubled youth” trope make this a cogent couple’s look that doesn’t give itself away as a couple’s look. Imagine the beauty of starting at opposite ends of a function, impressing people on both sides of the room with the drama of your fit, and then eventually winding up next to your partner on the dance floor, at which point everyone at the party watches your two looks congeal into a discursive aesthetic experience, mouths frothing with envy and inspiration.
This couple is from Kera magazine, circa 1998-2002, and god would I love to be their friend. The matching leopard patterns in completely different color palettes. The warmth in her dress bringing out the warmth in his t-shirt. The details in each of their looks: her pinhole navy thigh-highs, the zippered pocket on his sleeve, her unhinged and his restrained choker. The opposing directions of their collars. Their vacant, skyward gazes. Perfection.
Both of these couples’ looks are a little too perfectly matched for my taste, but on the left I appreciate how the pops of red draw the eye up and down and between the two outfits while on the right the contrast between the sharp blazer and the strapped-up, lumpen red jacket is genius.
Picking one piece to fully match and then freestyling the rest of each outfit is a great way to dip your toe into couple’s fashion. Another route to try is wearing the same types of garments (i.e. both looks could consist of sweaters, trousers, chunky rings, caps, and loafers) but not trying to pattern or color match at all.
A very simple fallback is to both dress fully in neutrals. No matter what colors you two wear, if you stick to neutrals your fits will cohere enough. If you wanna get really matchy with it, top off your neutrals with the same dark color. Beanies this similar is kind of a wild move, but I respect it, and these two pull it off with aplomb. Note that in each couple there must be one Newspaper Guy and one Baguette Guy, I leave it to you and your partner to suss that out between the two of you.
This viral couple (half of which can be found at @ergoozhang on Twitter) got famous for simply being really stylish lesbians. I say GOOD FOR THEM and appreciate how much they play with contrasting but complimentary lengths, shapes, and colors in their looks. This is Level 100 Couple’s Styling, so don’t be discouraged if you and your partner can’t get this synced up right out the gate, but take cues from, on the left, their mutual use of “a pop of color” (ew, what is this, Seventeen Magazine?) and on the right their perfectly clashing patterned tops, as well as the fact that it seems like they both styled the same pair of blue shorts in dramatically different ways.
If you are a similar size as your partner, or if you both tend to play with bagginess/tightness in your fits, I cannot reiterate the value of wardrobe-swapping/sharing enough. Not only does this double your clothing inventory, but it is an implicit acknowledgement that your partner has good style AND that you just might be sleeping together, which is very sexy of the two of you! Just don’t rub this all in to your single friends’ faces TOO much or you will soon become a known nuisance and your friends might come up with inventive, fashion-oriented machinations to try and break you up, which would be a horrible way for this sartorial love story to end.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on breakup and divorce fashion! Just kidding. I’ve done that already. As always, hit me up here or @humanrepeller on Instagram with thoughts, concepts for posts, or complaints (I swear I will not make every post about me being happy and in love, your beloved, bilious blogger will never lose their intrinsic weltschmerz and signature bitterness, do not fear!).