Mothers dressing like their daughters is now a thing.

Dina and Lindsey Lohan

Last week I was siting in Starbucks on a sweltering afternoon nursing an iced latte when I noticed two women hunched over cell phones. Both were blonde. Both were deeply tan. Both sported aqua blue manicures. Each wore flared designer jeans with rhinestones on the back pockets, accompanied by tight revealing tee shirts. Gold gladiator sandals adorned their feet. Louis Vuitton bags swung from their chairs. They were giggling and chatting and whispering in low, conspiratorial tones, two best friends bonding over coffee.

Then they got up to leave, and I realized that this pair was that of a mother-daughter.

When I was younger, and lived near my mother in New York, we spent many afternoons shopping, cruising the stores in search of the perfect pair of black suede pumps (her) and shade of pink lip gloss (me.) I have fond memories of movies we caught together and concerts we sat through.  However, despite our shared living space and common interests, never once did we dress alike. My mother is conservative, spending her money at Talbots and Ann Taylor; I haunt thrift and vintage stores. I am certain she'd be as disinclined to raid my closet as I am hers.

A few weeks ago, CNN broadcast a segment investigating the trend of mothers mimicking the personal style and fashion of their daughters. Citing Lindsay and Dina Lohan as examples, CNN referenced a study out of Temple University regarding mother-daughter style emulation. Based on a survey of 343 Israeli mother and daughter pairs, researchers found that, in cases where mothers and daughters viewed each other as fashion-savvy and respectively youthful or mature, mothers were significantly more inclined to imitate their daughters than the other way around. The study suggests that moms are looking to become style doppelgangers of their daughters in a quest both to remain youthful and fashion-forward.

In a related piece in The New York Times,  it is mentioned that many fashion industry insiders have noticed the growing trend among ordinary, non-celebrity mother-daughter pairs. As quoted in the Times: “I believe many moms defer to their daughters often out of insecurity that they perhaps missed a beat through the years, or the belief that, if you are younger, you are hipper and must be in the know,” said Sherrie Mathieson, a costume designer and celebrity style consultant based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Her 2009 book, “Steal This Style: Moms and Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets,” examines mother and daughter style sharing.

Joanne Arbuckle, dean of the School of Art and Design of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, believes the influence of social media and constant access to trends via internet had led a younger generation to gravitate towards more sophisticated offerings, which are then gleamed by their mothers. According to Arbuckle, mothers are more confident in their daughter's ability to be fashion-forward, thus making them sort of fashion role models.

“The lines are all blurred today,” Ms. Arbuckle said. “It’s not about, ‘You’re this age, and this is what you do."

There is no question that traditional standards of clothing marketed towards pre-teens and teenagers have blurred. In recent days, high-end designers such as Gucci, Versace, Stella McCartney, Lavin, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Marc Jacobs have all introduced clothing for children and pre-teens. This cross-over of sophisticated dress naturally results in both children dressing as their mothers, and the reverse. Add the proliferation of social media to the mix and it's no wonder that mothers are looking more towards their daughters for style inspiration.

I don't think there's any chance my mother would suddenly start dressing as me, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how I would feel if she did. But it's an interesting concept to ponder. What do you think of the trend of mothers dressing like their daughters? Have you noticed any examples of this trend recently? Do you and your mother share similar styles?


  1. I'm 49 and my daughter is 15, and while I would never say we dress alike (for one thing, I'm two inches shorter and thirty pounds heavier, and we have entirely different coloring and hair texture), when I think about it I see we subtly influence each other's styles. When I wind up waiting for her while she's trying on jeans, I idly go through the racks in places I never would walk into on my own, and have found a few things I liked. (I confess, I felt like I had to buy one item from Delia's kind of secretly, while she was in the fitting room, so she wouldn't see.) And she has, unexpectedly, adopted some of my styles in jewelry and shoes. Now, when I think back to my mom, I just go "ugh" at the thought of ever dressing like her. Does that mean I'm cooler than my mom was? ;-D

  2. I'm not sure I buy the cause/effect argument that it's mothers dressing like the daughters rather than the other way around.

    I know many women in the traditional "mom" age range (30s to 50s), both with and without kids, who dress less conservatively and follow fashion more closely than women of my mother's and grandmother's generations. There seems to be a trend toward women dressing "younger" for longer periods, and whether they have children of their own or not is incidental. They simply continue to like fashions such as wild manicures, hip hugging jeans, form fitting t's etc. It has become acceptable for them to make that fashion choice and to keep making it.

    The fashion choices have become more acceptable in both the work place and casual fashion. It can also be hard to find more conservative clothes that fit. (If you're a smaller petite size finding pants that aren't too trendy is never easy.) Ubiquitous specialty stores built to supply only trendy clothing (everyplace from Abecrombie to Torrid) have made those clothes common across the country.

    Because that choice is now acceptable across such a large age span, couldn't we say that daughters are learning fashion from and emulating their mothers? I mean, did Dina Lohan EVER wear Talbot's and dress like a 1950s housewife? From what I've seen of her historical style, she seems to have been pretty consistent in dressing youthfully. That her daughter likes the same styles makes sense to me. Isn't it possible that women are teaching their daughters to love their bodies and dress them how they WANT rather than following some arbitrary rule about what is or is not appropriate?

  3. Righhht this is a new thing. no its not. My mom and I borrowed from each others closets from gosh tenth grade until I got married. Sure I wore a lot of vintage clothes, thrift store stuff. But not ALL the time, we both felt like we had this huge wardrobe versus just a few pieces. This was in the eighties. I worked at Buffalo Exchange for four years. That whole entire time moms and daughters brought in THEIR closet pickings to sell. It was a given most of them shared. The only time they didn't was when one was a bigger size than the other. This is a joke of an article, not a new trend and once again the media grasping onto something slightly offensive and inane.

  4. I have noticed that if my mom likes something that I am wearing one day, she tends to wear something similar the next day. Of course it's still in a mature way and in her personal style. I find it cute. Thank goodness we aren't the same size though, because I definitely wouldn't want her wearing my clothes.

    xo L.

  5. I have not seen it that much, but I personally think it is not good. I think the mothers should have a much larger sense of style and sense of self, than their daughters would have. In many cases they would also have more money to spend so they would look more distinguished. I think there should be a clear difference between the mother and daugher.

  6. I don't dress like my mother, because she is a conservative classic and I am not. I look like I'm in costume when I wear her clothes. I think part of the mother/daughter dressing alike trend is simply that there's less age differentiation in clothing. You can buy a dress for a 6-year-old that looks like it would be fine on someone who is 16 or 60. The problem comes when someone who is 60 tries to shoehorn herself into a juniors dress or worse, a dress from the kids department just because she's petite. Proportions change as you age, and clothing should reflect that.

    I do draw the line at people dressing exactly like their kids. That's just weird. I also find that the older I get, the less I shop in teen stores -- not because they don't fit but because the cut/quality is so bad, I can't justify spending the money.

  7. This is an interesting take. I never used to think that my mother was stylish, but now that I'm in my mid 20s, she's one of the people I try to emulate (she's very chic and classic) when it comes to fashion. So, yes...I would say we have very similar fashion sense. Would we go as far as dressing like each other? No...I think the fact that we grew up in different times and generations prevents us from doing that--what is appropriate for me may not be appropriate for my 50 something mother. That's an old rule in the book: dress appropriately...for your age.

  8. Hmm... I don't dress like my mother at all. She favors Coldwater Creek and Kohls while I'm all about finding a little something everywhere. What I have noticed though, is that often when I am home visiting we'll go shopping and my positive comments on certain items that she would not usually look at will convince her to try the item on and buy it. Sometimes it is something that I like and would consider wearing. Always, it is more youthful and trend-oriented than the things she reaches for. Also, my other siblings comment that when I'm home she dresses nicer than usual.
    At the same time I do agree with some of the other commenters who have said that the age line of clothing is easily blurred now - which I personally think is usually a good thing - and that can lead to similar looks between mothers and daughters.
    To me the interesting thing about this trend is the reverse of what it used to be. When I was little I used to beg to borrow my mother's shoes. And the first time I wore something of hers I was excited. That was the usual fashion food chain. But now it is more about the mother borrowing style, tips, and clothing from her daughter. That's new.

  9. I think it is sad that mothers sometimes don't have good role models to follow. Their mothers lives were so different from now that some women get lost. But for a mother to imitate her daughter speaks of someone who isn't happy with herself.

  10. ~ * ♥ * ~

    I have to say that my Mom doesn't dress like me at all ~ but that's probably because I dress like my grandmother! {I.e. ~ 40s/50s style.} However, I always doll out the fashion advice, both for my mom and my sisters, so I guess there might be something to this 'trend'.

    I personally don't think that it's so great for mothers and daughter to dress alike though... To me it just looks wrong when older women dress exactly like teens, like they are putting on a fake persona. There is nothing wrong with being hip & trendy when your older, but what about having your own style and not just falling into more cookie cutter mentality? I find it sad that even at their age they still have the need to follow the crowd... Then again, I have always been about individuality in my fashion choices, so perhaps I am not the right person to comment! ; )

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  11. I grew up with a mom who was very stylish, while being both the mother and father of our household. It is from her that I developed my love of fashion and style. Though our styles are rather different. I'm a bit more eclectic, having always loved mixing colors and prints or old with new, and she is a bit more conservative in her color choices (things have to match). There are things in her 52 year old closet that I'd never wear at 26, but there are shoes and bags in her closet that I adore (and vice versa). My mom wears 4-5" heels to work just about every day; we even have a few pair of shoes that are just alike hehe.

    I don't think she is striving to compensate for insecurities, as she has always been this way, but I do find that we like some of the same things more the older I get, or she is more willing to take my advice on being more adventurous with color. I don't know how much truth there is in that study, but I must admit, I adore having a slightly youthful, somewhat edgy, 4-5" heel wearing, jewelry obsessed momma. :-)

  12. I admit that I like to dress to coordinate with my daughter.. She's only six months. But I don't dress LIKE her and nor do I think 45 year old women should dress like their teenage daughters :)

    Just saying hello from a fellow Dallas blogger! Have a great week!

    Brandi with Three Fabulous Mommies

  13. I cannot imagine dressing like my mother, but feel no shame in admitting that I take a cue or two from my daughters. I'm in no hurry to look older than I need to. BTW, one can find Anne Taylor and Talbots in thrift stores.

  14. I wonder how much of this is similar to the "yummy mummy" syndrome, in that it's less about mothers/daughters dressing alike, but more about mothers who are holding on to their sense of identity & style while having kids. Like there are mothers who kind of let themselves go for their kids and then ones who won't... so the daughters are more influenced by the mother's sense of self care & style, and hell... just because I get to a mother age doesn't mean I want to give up my rhinestones!

    So many people say dress how you feel, don't forgo your style because you're older, etc... and I wonder how that impacts that relationship?

  15. Interesting read. I have only a few memories of my mother but I do recall that she was always dressed in bright colours and had her nails done beautifully. I have always had a flare for fashion and I assume it was her I inherited it from. Seeing her, as a curvy woman, taking pride in her image, was one of the inspirations behind my store. - Shannon, Founder of Satin

  16. Oy. If Dina & Lindsey Lohan are the models, count me out. It is possible to be a stylish, well-dressed grown-up woman without looking like you're trying to go incognito at the local high school.

    (Now watch me eat my words in 6 years when my daughter hits middle school!)

  17. I still stand by the idea that anyone can wear what ever they want. That being said, I think this trend is just another product of a youth obsessed culture.

    But they say that you're only as young as you feel. So if wearing tight jeans and trendy costume jewelry (my mom) makes you feel younger all around, I say rock it. It cheaper (and probably better for you) than cosmetic surgery.

  18. Yes, my mom and I have very similar styles. Last time she was here to visit, I thought she looked nicer than me! Sometimes Mothers might also be able to afford nicer versions of what daughters are wearing. Great post!


  19. When I used to live in southern California, mothers did this all the time. I was horrified. But even more horrifying was when the GRANDMAS dressed in those velour jumpsuits with "Juicy" on the butt and UGGs.


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