A fashion phenomenon spreading through East Asia is matching outfits for couples. Personally, I find nothing wrong with such outfits – I think they are endearing, creative, and open up opportunities for collaboration. However, the usual response I’ve noticed from people from Western countries is that it is childish, immature, and the ever descriptive "gay" (check out comments from here and here). I say: Why not have fun with our significant other? Why don’t we aesthetically display our affection?
Why is this kind of childishness is deemed negative in our society? After all, Picasso said, “ It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Maybe the problem with American society is that sometimes it is not childish enough. Perhaps we are losing our imagination and our ability to enjoy things that are awesome in their simplicity. In East Asian countries, you often find cute animated characters everywhere – on backpacks, t-shirts, pens, etc. And this is not only limited to children, adults and teenagers enjoy this aesthetic as well. There is even a Japanese word that is used in China to describe this, kawaii. If you Google “kawaii,” you get images like this. In the U.S., a lot of clothing is somewhat dispassionate, boring, mono-colored and only functionality-oriented.
From this site, a fashion expert argues, “the desire to blur differences with matching outfits results in one of them no longer looking like a man, or no longer like a woman.” Isn’t this reasoning just a bit essentialist and old-fashioned? Androgyny seems to be only getting trendier. Also, it is completely possible to create matching outfits to complement each other so that effeminate and masculine elements both stand out.
Crystal Tao argues that couples outfits are popular in China because public displays of affection are not welcome. This might be the case in some situations, but not in all. If you walk around a college campus, especially in bigger cities, couples seem pretty proud to display their relationship and couples outfits are just an extension of this display of affection, not merely a cover-up due to shyness.
Of course, it’s cultural and it has a lot to do with personal preference. I don’t really care either way, I just think it’s cute and affectionate. And if you’re interested – here are lots of examples: