Style Is this cute or cringey? The matchy-matchy trend is hotter than ever
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My daughter Rosie, aged ten, is admiring the strawberry print on her new dress when she clocks me walking towards her in a frock cut from the same patterned fabric, and with a similarly draped skirt.
The closer I get, the more her mouth drops, until we’re standing next to each other, facing the mirror. Save for 32 years and a foot difference in height and hair, there’s not much to separate us in our identikit outfits, and the overall effect — for me, anyway — is bonding.
But just as I’m about to remark that we’ve scrubbed up well, Rosie says: ‘I’m dead. I’m literally dead.’
She’s literally not, of course — translated, for those without Generation Z offspring, she means: ‘This is hilarious.’ Trying on mini-me clothing ranges, the results have taken us by surprise.
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The trend of dressing to match your daughter is not new. As far back as 1908, haute couture designer Jeanne-Marie Lanvin, founder of the Lanvin fashion house, created childrenswear using the same fabric and styles as her womenswear collections, and girls’ dresses made from off-cuts of their mother’s homemade designs came to symbolise unity during World War II.
But now a combination of celebrity culture and social media have made showcasing your tribe with matching outfits more popular than ever, while the growth of the luxury childrenswear market has led to greater demand for fashionable girls’ clothing.
Until recently, mini-me ranges have largely focused on the under-eights — indeed, & Other Stories has just launched its first, and it’s designed to fit up to that age.
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But this month M&S brought out its third collaboration with Ghost, containing children’s dresses sized up to age 16 — the most popular styles of which have already sold out.
Next’s mother-daughter range can also be worn by children aged up to 16, while Matalan’s goes up to age 13.
I am surprised. Granted, preternaturally youthful celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Cindy Crawford are regularly pictured alongside their lookalike teenage daughters, but does any girl over nine really want to dress like her mother?
‘No! I don’t want to look like a middle-aged lady,’ says Rosie before we embark on our trial, adding hurriedly: ‘No offence to you or any other middle-aged ladies, but it is cringey.’
One problem associated with the trend is that it can make grown women look childlike and girls inappropriately mature, so many labels adapt the adult and child lines of their matching collections to suit each age group.
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It's just as sweet and soft with a preppy twist. Clearly, I could write a novel based on this whole look — or I can give you actual visuals, courtesy of Instagram. The good news is, if you've been enjoying ice cream dressing and invested in a tennis skirt after that whole '90s resurgence, you're pretty much ready to recreate these outfits using the pieces you already own. RELATED: Fairycore Fashion is the Dreamy, Ethereal Trend You Have to Try Break Out the Tennis Skirt View this post on Instagram Extra points if it's a lighter color.
But Next’s sweetheart neckline midi dress (far left) is almost identical, save for the welcome extra length in my version. I find the retro style ageing.
‘I think I look best in it,’ agrees Rosie modestly. Does she like it enough to wear it with me in public?
‘I’d let friends see us, but I wouldn’t want anyone walking along the road to think, “Ooh, how interesting, they’re wearing the same clothes” and not know why,’ she replies.
We wear the look to a family BBQ and I try to push my friend’s verdict — that we look like the Von Trapp children from The Sound Of Music, wearing clothes made out of curtains — out of my mind.
My parents are bemused, but my mum, who never dressed me in the same outfits as her, diplomatically says we look ‘charming’.
‘I suppose it’s OK for family events, too,’ concedes Rosie.
She’s young enough to (usually) think I’m amazing, but old enough to know her own mind — more’s the pity, I think, when we try on Seraphina’s matching dresses and she says I look like a milk maid.
Unfair, I think, although the luxury label’s linen Capri dress (far right) is indeed a more intricate design than the matching shift dress available for girls aged up to 11, which is simple, save for its frilled cap sleeves.
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Rosie, a fan, says the outfits are different enough for us to venture out in them. To a restaurant?
‘Depends which one.’ Pizza Express? ‘Yes, because it’s busy so people wouldn’t stare.’
Our strawberry-patterned dresses (middle) are one of five mini-me combinations from the M&S x Ghost range. To date, 70 per cent of the children’s dresses have been bought with their adult equivalent.
My version is calf-length with a collar and button front, while Rosie’s has an elasticated waist. It is my favourite outfit, on both of us — one I can imagine wearing together to a wedding to let the world know that, although my daughter may already share my shoe size, she’s still my little girl.
I must be looking wistful, because when I ask Rosie if she’d wear what she describes as our ‘party dresses’ in public, she gives me a gracious ‘Maybe’. We don’t have a wedding to go to, alas, but I do persuade Rosie to come to the local shopping precinct. As we walk through the car park nobody comments. But then Rosie spots a woman staring.
‘She’s laughing at us. I’m mortified,’ she says. I feel bad, and give her a coat to cover the dress with. Next, we try on yellow floral dresses by Joules (second from right), one of the first labels to offer matching children’s dresses, up to age 12.
I prefer her dress, she prefers mine, but she admits she’d feel self-conscious outdoors: ‘The design is too bold. There would be heads turning around.’
Our final combination is from Matalan (second from left). Save for the pink striped fabric, the outfits have little in common.
‘It’s definitely different enough to wear out with you,’ she says of her playsuit. ‘I would not be embarrassed.’
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