I stood in line at John F. Kennedy airport security last week, laptop ready for the belt and shoes in hand, when I saw something that immensely perturbed me. No, it had nothing to do with security. It had everything to do the man bent over before me.
I’m not a pervert on most days, but I couldn’t divert my eyes. He was leaning over to untie his gold-glittered Saint Laurent Court Classic high-tops… beside his wife, untying her gold-glittered Saint Laurent Court Classic high-tops.
I’m very much an advocate of the “you do you” mentality, and I’ll never tell someone what he or she should or should not wear. Would I wear glittered high-tops? Nope. Should they? Sure. Should they both not-so-fortuitously wear ’em together so as to tell the world they’re a power couple. That’s where I feel inclined to chime in.
It wasn’t really until we found our separate selves that we recognized how to appreciate each other, learn from each other and still grow with each other.
Maybe it’s because I’m a twin that I take offense to matching outfits. Perhaps because I grew up desperately forging my own inimitable identity, that when two people actively choose to forgo their individuality, it irks me in some way. I recall in vivid memory a watermelon dress, replete with a watermelon hat, in which my mother used to dress my sister and me. We wore matching polka dot dresses for as long as I wish I couldn’t remember. We did look adorable.
But today? I’m an unnatural redheaded journalist in New York City with a blog and she’s a blonde dread-headed snowboarder in Colorado with a banjo.
And I attribute our exaggerated fraternal-ness to that damn watermelon dress. We couldn’t be more vastly different because, at one point in time, we were forced and expected to be the same because we were a duo—to love the same clothes, to have the same hobbies, to keep the same friends. My parents kept us in the same classes until schools forbid them. When my sister was invited to Gretchen’s ice-skating birthday party and I wasn’t, I locked myself in the laundry room hysterical—I was never even good friends with Gretchen (still bitter)—and we never went to another birthday party without the other. In fact, I remember my mother inviting another set of twins to the house one Saturday sometime in the ’90s, who actually had “the talk” with us about being good twins. Where are those girls today? In their 30s, in the same dress with the same haircut, frequenting Twins Day Double Take parades to find dude-twins to date… together. It’s weird. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.
So what’s the deal with couples and their matching outfits? To be clear, I’m single. So maybe I’d consider it cute if I were in love (mmm, I wouldn’t). But the same notion comes back to me: We expect couples to be the same because they’re duos—to have the same hobbies, to keep the same friends, to never go to a party without the other and even to love in the same ways.
And these ill-founded expectations are the demise of all too many relationships—and friendships if you can never set aside time devoid of your “other half.” You are a whole human. You do not need another human to complete you, but rather you might want one to complement you. We date, or should date, people who challenge us, whose dissimilarities bring forth the best in us and complement the people we already are.
Back in the day, my sister and I argued some, as all sisters do. And it wasn’t really until we found our separate selves that we recognized how to appreciate each other, learn from each other and still grow with each other. And today I’m totally inspired by (and jealous of) her free spirit and open mind. From the romantic relationships I’ve had in the past, I would say the exact same: Only when two people have their own lives, and are happy with them, can they healthily share their lives without having to be each other’s. Only then can they, too, learn and be inspired.
So, sure, if you rock the same t-shirt because you think it’s funny, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. If you’re Justin Timberlake and you want to wear a denim suit with Jessica this time around, the world will embrace you. And I blew this whole matching outfits thing totally out of proportion, but those glittery sneakers really got me thinking about more than clothes.
I conclude, matching outfits should be strictly reserved for sports teams and ensemble cast members in musicals, unless, of course, you both do just so happen to love glittery sneakers. Then, who am I to judge?