SM Entertainment’s team of stylists remain <<<hashtag GOALS>>> on my mental list of all things stye-related. Once again, they concocted another set of outfits that are simultaneously group-oriented, classic, individual, and insane. So many contradictory ideas go into making K-pop group styles. Oh, and each one reflects its group’s current overall concept.

To quote Rachel Zoe circa 2006, I die.

First up, we have NCT Dream promoting “We Young” with a Peter Pan theme. From what I can tell, SM’s idea of Peter Pan is half traditional schoolboy, half found objects with a pseudo-island theme. There are a lot of belts.


Each member is wearing the same silhouette, with different details. We have a bold version of the schoolboy jacket, long shorts all the same length, but three boys in white and three in khaki, and the same red socks, but different shoes for each. Each boy is also wearing some variation a vintage-inspired rhinestone pin. Again we have a cohesive color palette, blue, white, and red.

Renjun has a small red bandana tie and is relatively accessory-free. I feel like he and Doyoung (of NCT 127) get similar treatment as the “smart” ones of their respective groups — relatively simpler outfits, plus glasses and a more preppy overall vibe.

Haechan is wearing three (3!) bolo ties, and of course his red hair brings together the various red ties and socks of the group. He has turned aegyo up to 11 in the performance, and it’s kind of adorable.

Mark gets a striped collarless shirt, beads (?) and a raccoon tail hanging from his belt loops. He also has a fringed grass belt (again: ???). I think they throw absolutely incomprehensible outfits at Mark sometimes to toughen him up. If he can pull off a grass skirt and a raccoon tail, he can pull off anything.

Chenle’s shirt has a face on it, and he gets a full red bandana. His shirt is the most off-palette — everyone else has a white or light blue shirt — probably because he still has fantasy purple hair. Can’t let that hair float out on its own, it has to get drawn in to the whole somehow.

Jeno appears to have a mop hanging from his belt. I like his contrasting collar. He continues to absolutely SLAY this comeback. The platinum hair suits him, and he comes across as more fluid, comfortable, and fun. He’s a great dancer, which I didn’t always notice in past comebacks because he was so stiff.

And Jisung! Jisung with his bright blue hair and his incomprehensible shirt that appears to be a cluster of Union Jacks. He has a lipstick pin and his necklace appears to be tennis rackets (or maybe waffles?).

Just when I think I start to understand the logic behind k-pop styling, it escapes me again. It’s a little like the visual version of “Engrish.” (Which of course is partially why I like it.)

In the same show, EXO performed their newest comeback song “Power.” Please take a moment to appreciate the thumbnail of Xiumin and his fantastic hair before you click play on this video.

EXO is a more group-oriented…group…so their costumes also tend toward cohesion more than individuality-within-a-theme. Each member gets his own version of the sporty jacket, and they all have different undershirts that underline their individual looks, but they look much more like a team and it would be much harder for a newbie to tell the members apart simply by clothing (unlike NCT Dream up above where you could pick out a member based on accessories).

The wizardry in this costuming choice is the SM stylists managed to make pinstripe pants that somehow don’t automatically make their wearers look like bankers or baseball players. I repeat: PINSTRIPE PANTS THAT DON’T SUCK.

Plus, they’re paired with Member’s Only style jackets with pulled-up ankle socks and don’t look like they were ripped straight from the 80s. It’s that vaporwave influence creeping in again. Wizardry.

It probably helps that EXO are now next-level clothes wearers and performers. With that in mind, I can’t wait to see what kinds of batshit outfits the NCT subgroups will get in five years when their members have climbed to EXO’s level.

If you want to see the two groups in action together, NCT Dream stayed out onstage during EXO’s encore. Adorable.