[Analysis] Happy Hearts & Matching Outfits: A Family Unit

By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the season of love than by talking about one of my favorite romantic tropes in comics–matching outfits. It’s something I’ve discussed a few times or mentioned briefly, like in my appreciation of Smurf’s World’s costuming for a special dinner, but this trope extends beyond just romance. It also applies to family units, something I’ve noted in my analysis of the twins that aren’t twins analysis of Beware of the Brothers!, where the outfits of siblings, parents, and children coordinate with each other.

The wonderful @inkblotreads mentioned, An Unseemly Lady as an example of showing the family unit in response to one of my former posts and that is definitely a series that comes to mind whenever I think of families and matching outfits, so first on my list will be An Unseemly Lady, mentioned in honor of the awesome @inkblotreads that recommended it! In An Unseemly Lady, the main character and her sister are dressed in matching or coordinating outfits with differences in cut and style to reflect their age:

Source: An Unseemly Lady, Chapter 30 + 31

Next on the list is the royal twins, Arienne and Arhen, from The Twins’ New Life. The twins are regularly paired in matching outfits with different cuts and styles to reflect their gender differences:

Source: The Twins’ New Life, Chapter 110 + 25

This seems to be a semi-regular occurrence for twins in manhwas and manga, and it always seems very cool to me how the artists can turn this romance trope into a statement about the relationship of the characters and their different personalities. Arhen, the brother in the images above, has a more relaxed image to him than his sister. In another, perhaps better, example, the twins from Dear Nemesis also dress in matching outfits with some consistency; however, the two have very different approaches to the style. The sister, Calmia, tends to wear tighter cuffed sleeves, with higher and tighter collars while her brother has a more airy, flowy collar (often cuffs too). She’s supposed to appear, in my understanding, as having a more controlled appearance which lends to her character’s personality and mindset within the story through the imagery.

Source: Dear Nemesis, Chapter 18

I love seeing siblings dressed in matching outfits in comics, because of this kind of characterization that’s shown but not said. What I love even more is seeing how costuming can also play into the parent(s)-child(ren) relationship through the same concept of having them dressed in coordinating outfits. One of my favorite depictions of this can be found in How To Hide The Emperor’s Child. Unlike in romances that use this trope, or even in the examples above, the outfits in How To Hide The Emperor’s Child wherein parent and child wear coordinating attire are very simple yet practical, which I adore.

Source: How To Hide The Emperor’s Child, Chapter 8
Source: How To Hide The Emperor’s Child, Chapter 27

I’m a big fan of this particular costuming style and also like how it can be used to show the relationships between a child and adopting parent growing closer. For example, in I Raised A Black Dragon, we see how the baby dragon, Mu, starts to dress in a simplified, coordinated attire that matches Noa Park/Eleanora pretty early on, and sometime after that Kyle Leonard–the love interest to Noa–joins in too. Other series, like I Became The Male Lead’s Adopted Daughter also follow this use of costuming to show family units and cohesiveness between members:

Source: I Became The Male Lead’s Adopted Daughter, Chapter 47

The father (biological uncle) and daughter (biological niece) don’t coordinate frequently in the beginning chapters, and when they separate for a short while then the outfits won’t match for a scene or two, but as the two have gotten closer, their outfits match more and more. It’s very cute!

Source: I Became The Male Lead’s Adopted Daughter, Chapter 45

I really liked seeing this same idea in I’ll Be The Matriarch In This Life too, specifically in Chapter 55 where the main character dresses in a combination that matches both her grandfather’s and father’s attire, thereby visually tying the three together as a set of closer family members:

Source: I’ll Be The Matriarch In This Life, Chapter 55
Source: I’ll Be The Matriarch In This Life, Chapter 55

There are, of course, many other examples of this trope. I’ve seen them in almost every genre (even yuri and yaoi stories). However, the above are some of my favorites. How about you? What are some examples you like or love? Please let me know!

Source: Kiss Me, Liar, Special 18

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s