YA Literary Trope: The Awesome Outfit

So far this fall we have explored many tropes commonly found in young adult literature including the Old Clunker I DriveThe I Already Know you Introduction, The I Have to Take Care of my Parent(s), The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and Boy), and The A-Hole Friends.  This week let us discuss and celebrate the Awesome Outfit trope.

YA Literary Tropes The Awesome Outfit

This trope is dedicated to someone I consider to be fiction’s original awesome dresser: Claudia Kishi.  Girl, no one could pull off a fedora in real life like you can on the pages.

  • Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.  Yovanoff’s tale is genre-defying (or maybe it exists on a different plain without the constraints of genre).  All at once this book is a story of best friends and destruction.  It a ghost story, a love story, and a complex mystery.  It is also all about awesome outfits.  The main character in this book, Hannah, is one of the best dressed gals ever.  Hannah raids the thrift shops and improves upon their vintage awesomeness with her own crafty tools (including a hot glue gun, sewing machine, and maybe a be-dazzler)?


  • Twilight Saga  (Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers: 2006, 2007, Teen’s Top Ten: 2007, 2008, & 2009) by Stephenie Meyer.  Bella is in awe of the Cullens; and we’re not just talking Edward.  The rest of the family are described in terms of superlatives; the most beautiful ever,  strongest, and most dazzling voice.  But Alice stands out even in the land of the gorgeous rich vampires as having incredible style.  Her outfits are, well, awesome.  And she starts dressing up Bella too which we all really wish would happen to us.


  • Hush, Hush series (Teens Top Ten: 2010 & 2011) by Becca Fitzpatrick.  Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series is steamy and full of twists and turns.  Patch might be the sexiest angel ever (though he does have some tough competition).  But when Nora dresses for a date or a non-date (depending the couple’s fight schedule) with Patch she takes it up a notch.  And Nora, we all appreciate the stuff you “throw on”.  You rock.



  • Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.   Blue’s spiky hair, layered ensembles, and unique appearance are vital for her character.  Blue is a quirky girl, she may rail against the constructs of mainstream beauty, but we know she takes her time putting together a specific look.  Blue is a one of a kind kind of awesome and her outfits reflect that.


  • Mortal Instruments Series (Teens Top Ten: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Readers’ Choice Nomination) by Cassandra Clare.  Does anyone else take the fashion chances that Magnus takes?  He is not afraid of the bold, colorful, sparkly or feathered.  What makes this man such a fashionista? Living over three centuries?  Being comfortable with his sexuality?  Having magical powers to make any outfit he wants (or change the color of his hair, skin, or eyes)?  I vote all of the above.  And Magnus; I’m jealous.

Some of our favorite YA authors whip up some pretty swanky clothes for their characters. Who else out there is a well dressed character?  Did you ever wonder how would an author describe the way you dress?  Spoiler alert: for me it would be pretty boring. Join in next week for a discussion of the trope: “The Repressed Protagonist.”

-Tara Kehoe, currently reading Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay & Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

2 thoughts on “YA Literary Trope: The Awesome Outfit”

  1. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins features some amazingly outrageous, theatrical outfits from a costume-designer-to-be!

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