Pamela R. Miskey recalls the summer in the late 1950s when she and her mother stepped out on occasion wearing matching dresses.
“My aunt sewed for a hobby, and she made us matching dresses with ’50s-style pouffy skirts in white piqué fabric with red tulips,” she said.
“I think I was 3. After age 5, our fashion sense went in different directions,” she laughed.
Still, they occasionally wore matching jewelry, hats, purses or shoes – just for fun.
“And when we went to a family gathering, if she wore navy blue and white, I would wear navy blue and white. It wasn’t the same outfit but we would coordinate – up until I was 10,” said Miskey, owner of Tis the Season Gift Shoppe, 15 Lincoln Road, Snyder.
Many women may have memories of dressing in matching outfits – likely picked out by their mothers or, as in Miskey’s case, presented as a gift. Perhaps they loved the idea. Perhaps they did not.
But if you think mother-daughter dressing (or mother-son, for that matter) is a thing of the past, read on:
• Lilly Pulitzer continues to sell outfits for mothers and daughters, while Hanna Andersson, the retailer and catalog company with Swedish roots, offers matching outfits for the whole family – including the pure organic cotton pajamas they are known for, as well as coordinating outfits. What you will find from both brands are outfits in the same fabrics but different, age-appropriate styles.
• In April, the limited-edition Victoria Beckham for Target collection for women, children and infants launched and included several themes including Pressed English Flowers and Circus Scallops. Matchy-matchy these outfits are not. Rather, the pieces are similar in pattern and feel.
Read one headline on nymag.com, before the launch: “Victoria Beckham’s Target Collab Makes Mother-Daughter Dressing Feel Cool, Not Cheesy.”
Check out the collection – both temporarily out of stock and available items – on target.com.
• Some pattern designers continue to offer sewing patterns in styles for girls and women. One of them is Amy Butler, whose pattern offerings include fun, retro styles for women and girls – in the same package, said Sandy Hertel, owner of Elmwood Village Fabrics, 543 Franklin St. One customer made the same style dress for her daughter that she did for herself – but in a different fabric.
If you want further proof that mother-daughter dressing has evolved, go to ebay and search “vintage sewing patterns mother-daughter.” This is what mother-daughter dressing used to look like. You will find patterns for making matching jackets, pants, sundresses, bathrobes and, of course, aprons.
Runways and stars
In an article published in March, British Vogue pointed out that Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Victoria Beckham for Target are among the brands and designers revolutionizing the mother-daughter dressing market. And celebrities often are photographed wearing similar styles and colors as their kids.
The article also offered today’s golden rules of stylish mother-daughter dressing: Do not wear the exact same outfit as your daughter. Wear matching accessories such as cute flats as an alternative to an entire outfit. Choose dresses in complementary but not identical colors (go for pastels or jewel tones, for example). Match stripes or florals but, again, in a very subtle way. A floral dress on you. A floral headband on her. Or a slightly different stripe.
“The most important rule of mother-daughter dressing (although it may be more boring than choosing matching sequins) is to listen to your child. If they’re protesting, gently or more fervently, listen to them. However much you want to capture those adorable early years in Instagram-friendly outfit posts, it’s not worth making your child dread or resent it,” wrote Lauren Milligan, news editor of Vogue.co.uk, in the article.
Sewing with the times
Hertel said she has not seen a surge in sewing projects for mother-child dressing. However she said she can see why some people who sew, especially young mothers, may be opening their eyes to it.
Part of it may be triggered by exposure to recent collaborations between retailer Target and brands Lilly Pulitzer, Liberty of London and Marimekko, she said. The prints in the limited-edition collections extended beyond women’s clothing into children’s clothing, accessories and home goods.
“It had a large presence throughout the store – to maximum effect,” Hertel said.
“Part two of that is that the younger generation is entering sewing, having learned to sew possibly through modern quilting or craft items. Typically there is a baby involved when they begin quilting. Once they are moms – or more of their friends become moms – then they might start sewing diaper covers or burp cloths. Then once the children begin walking, maybe they start following some very basic garment patterns,” Hertel said.
And from there?
“I could see the next step being doing some clothing for themselves,” she said. “And potentially – whether it’s being efficient with their fabric purchases or wanting to have that little crossover pop of color or contrasting fabric – stepping into creating that mother-daughter look.”
She added with a laugh: “Once in a while.”