“Fashion knows no age” is a mantra that has been dominating the fashion scene for a while. It empowers women to dress as they please without conforming to age or even gender stereotypes. Take a look at the 100-year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel, for example, who is bending the confines of age and style. “You have to dress for yourself before you dress for your age,” says the fashionista.
Recently, the matching mother-daughter style has been on the rise with celebrities reinforcing the trend. A trend that is rooted way back in the 1900s when family unity was taken to heart.
Today, we set off on a fashion journey to explore the evolution of the mothers and daughters who are dressing identically and the motifs behind it.
Who wore it first?
Back in 1909, Jeanne Lanvin, founder of the oldest French fashion house, Lanvin, opened a mother and daughter department. Here, mothers could purchase coordinating ensembles with their daughters. The idea was inspired by the fashion designer’s love for her daughter Marguerite. Their strong bond was manifested in the Lanvin house logo, which features an illustration of Lanvin and Marguerite holding hands together at a ball. Nowadays, the logo can be seen on perfumes such as Lanvin Arpège.
What the mother-daughter trend represented at the time was a pronounced family ideal and affluence. The subtle language of fashion spoke loudly to society: look, we’re a well-functioning loving family and can afford to show it. Surges in popularity of the trend were in line with “time periods when there is more cultural emphasis on the family and the mother-daughter relationship,” commented fashion historian and children’s clothing researcher Jennifer Farley Gordon.
With the 1930s came the rise of the powerful Hollywood publicity machine, which aims to drive attention to a particular person. For example, the actress Joan Bennett posed with her two daughters in coordinating drapes in 1935.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the “mommy and me” fashion really took off. While Lanvin’s couture emphasised the daughter’s maturity with clothing that takes after adult fashion, the ‘40s brought about motherly youthfulness to the forefront.
Ruffled pinafores, frilly blouses, skirts with suspenders, and matching hair ribbons were the staple mother-daughter look. It’s a description that seems more appropriate for an 8-year-old girl than a mother. According to Life magazine, when a mother had more than one girl, it had been recommended that she twin with the youngest.
Between 1939 and the early 1950s, the accepted role of the mother as a housewife was widely portrayed in magazines. The image of a mother and daughter in matching outfits baking cookies and doing household chores was solidified at this time. There was also an emphasis on home sewing, which both mothers and daughters could indulge in. That propelled the popularity of “mommy-and-me” dressing manuals with featured sewing patterns. Through fashion, the domestic sphere was positioned in the foreground of women’s priorities.
The 1970s put an end to matching mother-daughter fashion with the rise of the working woman, the counter-culture revolution, and the boom of the power dressing in the 1980s.
“Mommy-and-me” fashion resurrection
Recently, the mother-daughter matching trend has come back to life again, and it’s more accessible than ever. We see celebrities fashioning coordinating outfits with their daughters, as well as a number of our friends sharing such images on social media.
Kylie Jenner seems to be the queen of the “mommy-and-me” trend, as she is often seen in coordinating outfits with her daughter Stormi. The pair have been spotted either in a laid-back setting wearing casual trainers and fashionable sportswear, or looking spectacular in sequin outfits. Models Cindy Crawford and Coco Rocha even brought their daughters to the runway. They made a striking fashion statement using the resurrected trend.
Today, online style-guide articles have replaced the mailed sewing patterns for matching outfits. Ready-to-wear coordinated garments for mothers and daughters are readily available. Whether at high-end design houses or more affordable fashion stores. The motifs behind the “mommy-and-me” trend are a blend between an emphasis on the daughter’s maturity and the youthfulness of the mother. This way, stereotypes around age are being challenged. The scene has been opened for more expression.
The mother-daughter matching trend has definitely made fashion history. Whether its purpose is to overcome age stereotypes, showcase affluence, or assert the cultural implications of a certain time, one thing is for sure – fashion knows no boundaries.