A motif throughout the novel, physical appearances contribute to the reader’s impression of characters, differences between characters, and the changes that occur in characters’ identities. Tessa, her mother, and Noah all have a similar style, reflected in their reserved, clean-cut clothing choices. Tessa wears minimal makeup, and her clothes are modest. On the other hand, Hardin, Steph, and their friends draw attention to themselves with their appearance. They all have multiple tattoos and piercings, and Steph wears heavy makeup and provocative clothing. Although Hardin’s clothing choices are simple—dark skinny jeans and a white or black t-shirt, his tattoos and clothing style reflect his “bad boy” aura and intrigue Tessa from the first moment they meet. Hardin’s appearance, particularly his many tattoos, also contribute to the mysteries surroundings his past. Tessa wonders on several occasions what all his tattoos mean and is surprised to find a heart tattoo and flower tattoo that seem to contradict his tough exterior.
Todd also uses outward appearances to reflect the inward changes characters experience. For instance, after having sex with Hardin for the first time, Tessa looks at herself in a mirror and sees a different woman.
By Anna Todd