For those addicted to TikTok, you must know all the trends idolizing fictional or celebrity couples whose love seems out of this world. Romantic montages are created with filtered images and accompanying alternative music, with the introduction tagline being “Fuck Romeo and Juliet, I want what these bitches have”. Within my deep dive into this trend, it occurred to me that there was a common formula for a few couples. We have the Hollywood starlet in one corner who found herself becoming both a mood meme and pop culture sex symbol. And in the other corner, we have the Tim Burton character-looking guy who looks like he had menthol cigarettes for breakfast and is a pop-punk musician. It’s weird, but it works, and it seems like everyone on the internet is dying for a love like this. It’s a love worthy of a pop-punk band to write a song about. Since the inception of Machine Gun Kelly & Megan Fox, the aesthetic has remained superior, with imitation being the highest form of flattery (looking at you, Kourtney & Travis). Seeing as we’re at the peak of digital culture and couple goals, the price of aesthetic relationship clout comes in the currency of the fashion-forward Hot Girl & Alt Boy pairing.
The universe works in mysterious ways, especially in the Kardashian universe. When news broke that the resident family member most famous for not wanting to be famous was dating the drummer of Blink-182, jaws dropped. Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker were simultaneously unexpected and adored by fans. The cherry on top for a pair like this is that the couples’ styles perfectly contrast and complement each other. Fans fell in love with the aesthetics of the two and became obsessed with documenting all the date night outfits and matching ensembles. On pen and paper, these two are total polar opposites fashion-wise. Both found fame in the early era of y2k, yet in different atmospheres. First of all, Travis Barker is the walking image of the California cool boy archetype. In his early days with Blink-182, he fully embodied the aesthetics of being a west coast punk rock drummer. He would often style his hair in a gelled spiky mohawk and sport numerous lip and nose piercings. Being a resident punk also means an affinity for graphic t-shirts and sweaters, often decked out in Chrome Hearts, dark skull imagery, camo print, or images of past rock bands. He also fused the music aspect with his skater boy persona, pairing darker aesthetics and colors with a more casual approach. So casual in fact that he would go au naturel and show up shirtless to many events, including the 2004 Teen Choice Awards, where he also wore low rise shorts to show his boxers. He and his bandmates helped define teen aesthetics at the time, arriving in the golden age of MTV, making suburban teens want to turn punk.
Throughout the years, the best accessory Travis has had is that he is literally covered head to toe in tattoos. His body serves as a mural of memories with inked family portraits, religious gothic imagery, and quotes. His latest piece was actually done by Miss Kourtney herself. She wrote “i love you” in her penmanship on his forearm, which complements her own name inked above his right nipple in cursive font. Flash forward to the present day, Travis’s style is still the same at heart, just a bit more mature as he settled into parenting. In the past, he was wearing logo mania muscle tees and the baggiest shorts known to man. Cut to today, the baggy silhouette has been replaced with more of a sleek fit; his choice of pants is slim black jeans, the mohawk has been switched for knit beanies, and now he prefers to layer up with flannels or bomber jackets. As California transitioned from the sun-kissed skater and surfer community to a modern influencer playground, Travis’s style followed suit.
On the other hand, Kourtney comes from a boujee family dynasty full of Yeezy and endorsement deals. While her style hasn’t completely changed since she started dating Travis, little cues here and there show a subtle influence from his look. This isn’t too much of a shock as even when she was with preppy era Lord Disick, she would mirror his style too in Hampton chic ensembles or Gossip Girl cast member copycat looks. So it’s quite fitting for Kourtney to switch it up depending on her boo. She’ll wear a barely-there nude thong bikini in her typical Kardashian manner, yet the new Kourtney will give it a bit of edge with the classic Alexander McQueen skull hair scarf. Or she will mix her uptown girl with his downtown boy by pairing H&M sequined fringe disco pants with a cropped wife-beater tank top. She even hit the high fashion slopes with monochromatic neon-hued scene kid snowsuits. One of the latest looks she showcased on Instagram looks like she just left a taping of MTV Unplugged; ripped light wash jeans, a yellow and black lace corset, tiny sunglasses, and a fur coat. Kourtney is more known for repping luxurious high fashion pieces, whether vintage collectible or fresh off the runway; being from the Kardashian namesake, materialism is expected from them as money is not an issue whatsoever.
The two make a y2k fashion fairytale of star-crossed lovers, with opposite aesthetics attracting. Despite both parties being mega-rich, they’re the closest rich people couple to merging the worlds of the uptown girl and a downtown boy. Kourtney and Travis began in the opposite clashing eras of y2k. He was in the rebellion youth and punk sphere, while Kourtney started in the sphere of excess, it-girl wealth, and fame. They’ve stayed close to their origins throughout the years, adapting to the changing social media times. However, since their union, the two have seemingly gone back in time, embracing all the y2k aspects that gave them their starts.
A more modernized and high fashion iteration of the Alt Boy & Hot Girl couple is represented by the OGs of the trend, Megan Fox & Machine Gun Kelly. Their whirlwind romance began shortly after she starred in his music video for “Bloody Valentine”, and it’s been a wild ride ever since. Just like Travis, MGK has a full on penchant for anything in the realm of punk heaven. His trademark has been layering on numerous silver chunky chains, some featuring a string of pearls, while others have a drop of Megan’s blood in a glass vial. Almost a better love story than Twilight. However, his punk staples take a more avant-garde approach with Rick Owens platform boots and various boiler suits covered in hot pink graffiti. Rather than sticking to a traditional emo color palette, MGK also isn’t afraid to embrace new wave colors of electrifying neon hues and baggy metallic pants. Instead of adopting the purposeful tackiness of the aughts, MGK has taken the cool modern e-boy approach. Which includes incorporating y2k elements into alternative fashion and rejecting traditional masculinity. Thus he has the best of both worlds with the pop-punk revival band merch, purposely chipped nail polish and dangly earrings.
Meanwhile, his better half Megan opts for an LA influencer element of pairing classic basics with high fashion pieces. She obviously loves her staples of simple Levi’s jeans but will spice it up with, say, a bubblegum pink Bottega Veneta latex trench coat or an oversized Vetements blue flannel. Megan always elevates herself to the next level by making sure her looks have a rock edge to them, in true Jennifer’s Body feminist flair. The astrology girlfriend isn’t afraid to whip out daring glam rock looks like a LaQuan Smith tiger print jumpsuit or a Ralph&Russo emerald constructed gown. The key to the couple pairing isn’t being Christmas card cringe matchy-matchy, rather it’s adding complementary contrast to each other’s fit. At his past month’s Billboard Music Awards, they went the punk rock Ken and Barbie route with silver and hot pink ensembles. While Megan and Kourtney have become fashion queens in their own right, it’s only right to mention that the two have been working with stylists to master their new looks. Their collaborations have been very successful as they have kept their glamorous personal aspects and compliment them to their significant other’s taste.
At this point, you may begin to ask yourself, so why the hell is there such an investment in these couples? In a philosophical manner, it boils down to the concept of time and the cycle of nostalgia. Newsflash, fashion is cyclical! Consumers and audiences are always looking towards past historical styles and adapt them for a modernized approach. Even if the main consumer target of Gen-Z isn’t old enough to vividly remember the beginning of y2k, the generation is obsessed with the time period. The 2000s were notorious for everything excess and being over the top. It was the era of logomania, piling on as many accessories as possible and mixing and matching whatever one could find. With recent mundane styles such as minimalism and neutrals trending in some style spheres, it’s no surprise that audiences are craving for something more bold and exciting. Both celebrity couples reflect this excess motif of y2k in their personal and collaborative styles, yet they’re more in the vein of 2000’s pop-punk. Rather than layering in Juicy Couture or Von Dutch, they opt for tattoo-themed Ed Hardy and motorcycle city Harley Davidson.
The odd couple theme was also relevant in the early 2000s. There was a time in history where everyone’s favorite bimbo BFFS dated a set of punk rock Australian brothers. While Paris Hilton and Benji Madden didn’t last, Nicole Richie and Joel Madden ended up living a Rock and Roll happily ever after being married with children. The trend can be traced back even further to the ’90s with the notorious pairing of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Both very fashionable and sex symbols in their own right. With each mentioned couple was a trendy female starlet who loved mini dresses and shiny fabrics; and a bad boy who wore all black everything and sunglasses at night. Y2k was also a time of overexposure and tabloid frenzies. Pop culture was obsessed with the romantic lives of celebrities. Especially when the couple is the least expected and from opposite sides of Hollywood. The only difference this time around is the benefactor of social media giving instant leeway to 24/7 access of the couples. Instead of waiting for a weekly tabloid to round up the latest buzz, everyday fans get a glimpse of the couple’s aesthetic as means of fashion inspiration. Posts are saved on Instagram or added to a Pinterest board to plan the next couple’s photoshoot and coordinate fits based on y2k vibes. As we’re living through another era of the Alt Boy and Hot Girl sagas, it establishes a new motion of nostalgia and yearning for the days of fashion past. So to Travis & Kourtney, MGK & Megan, I’m rooting for you.
Photo 1: People Magazine
Photo 2: People Magazine
Photo 3: POPSUGAR
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Photo 5 : E! Online
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Photo 12: Rolling Stone: