Clothes are to some just things you put on your body to stop you getting arrested. Clothes are to some- practical- for warmth, comfort, protection. Clothes are to others a way to express themselves, fun, a passion. I fall into the second camp. I love clothes. Always have done for as long as I can remember. I always used to say I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. Naturally, when I became a parent I extended this love of clothes to a new found kids department. My mum always says, “Thank God you didn’t have a girl” because she knew I would probably bankrupt myself as there is such a wider selection for girls. She is right. I have still spent a small fortune and then some on my two boys.
It is one of the most frequent questions I get asked over on Instagram– where I got the clothes the boys are pictured in. I am always happy to chat kids clothes. I’m constantly shopping for them, always finding new little outfits- and now I have two of them- matching! And this brings me on to the topic of this post- matching your offspring in the clothes that they where.
Until I received a message on Instagram from a child phycologist (yes, really), I hadn’t even considered that ‘twinning’ my two might be causing them harm. The message said that it isn’t giving them their own identity and grouping them together as the same and therefore, not unique. My first reaction to this message was honestly something along the lines of “Oh bore off”. But then I thought about it. And I’m open to other peoples opinions and wanted to know more. I decided to research this topic, as I hadn’t even considered this to be a ‘thing’. Is twinning your children’s clothes winning or sinning?
I dress the boys in matching outfits for a number of reasons. Mainly, because it is bloody cute and adorable. They are brothers, they have the most special little bond. Its easier to buy two of everything, less decisions in the morning when getting dressed. I have an older sister- not a dissimilar age gap to my two boys and we were always matching somehow. Am I lacking identity? No. Am I the same as my sister? Could not be more different. Having them dressed the same at this age (nearly 3 and 1)- actually avoids arguments. My very perceptive 3 year old wants to know why his little brother is wearing that nice red top and his is blue. He likes dressing the same, I think it gives him a sense of being in a team, a gang, they are together- dressed the same and ready for the world. Double trouble. And you only have to see the little dance of glee my 1 year old did when he realised he had the same slipper socks as his big brother. I catch him looking down at his clothes and then at his brothers and smiling. In his eyes he is dressed like his idol. They have to have the same plate for goodness sake to avoid meltdowns, so same tops are a given. I have spoken to twin Mums who are divided on this issue. Some are all for the matching and go for it everyday, some occasionally and some not in a million years. The ones who didn’t want to dress their offspring matching were very much under the opinion of wanting them to be individuals and not two peas a pod.
I think, for us, for now its plain and simple really CUTE. They will probably reach an age where they don’t want to match and that’s fine. And they don’t match everyday. I’m not that organised, its mainly if we are going out. And the reality is, they ARE individual. They might be dressed the same but their personalities couldn’t be more different. I wouldn’t want them to be the same. The same shirt yes. They have been born with different personality traits, quirks, talents, which I doubt will be watered down by my need to see them looking gorgeous in matching coats. Author Joan A. Friedman (a twin herself and a twin Mum) states in her book, Emotionally Healthy Twins, ““When the longing to see twins in a romanticized way prevents parents and others from seeing them as individuals, twins feel as if they are merely playing a role in someone else’s fantasy.” Now, my boys aren’t twins, despite regularly being mistaken for them, but some of this applies to siblings close in age too. Am I romanticising their relationship? These two formidable brothers, always have each other, always got each others backs, a special bond that no one else can fathom. Ok, so yes, I do romanticise. However, I don’t think that this is doing them a disservice. They ARE brothers, they ARE close. I don’t think this prevents me from seeing them as individuals. They wouldn’t let me see them as anything else- their personalities are too strong.
Clothes DO matter as an extension of personality. But not yet. Not at this young age. When they are older they can decide for themselves what they want to wear. I am not going to force them to wear the same outfits if they don’t want to. Friedman explains that the wardrobe is part of the ‘identity building process’ and I don’t dispute that it is. But can a 2 and 1 year old REALLY have their own identity at this age? Isn’t most of their identity given to them by their parents? I know if I let my eldest dress himself he would wear pants, a cape and wellies. Should I let him? Find himself? Come on…
I do not totally disagree with the notion of dressing siblings, twins, differently. I think it is probably more relevant for twins. My two have the age gap to set them apart, they look different. This is probably more a concern for twins who really need that sense of self. Dressing them differently is a clear and easy way to show they are an individual- to themselves and to the world. I must admit when my boys are dressed the same they are often ‘lumped together’ by strangers as one big bundle of cuteness in a double buggy. For a start most fail to notice the age difference. When you actually look, its quite clear. But when you look quickly and see them matching- many assume they are twins and give them one smile, one hello and don’t see them as two different boys.
This topic, like all the topics in parenthood, is one that can be hotly debated. There are strong arguments on both sides as to why and why not dress your children the same. Parenting one or more children is hard work. You want them to be treated fairly and treated the same. Yet, you also want them to be individual. Its hard not to compare your youngest to your eldest- its natural to do so. I consciously make sure I recognise my youngest as a completely new person. If the first was riding a bike by three- doesn’t mean the second will to- they might be better at other things. I think this has opened my eyes a little when it comes to dressing the same. I just am all for the cuteness, but I can see how potentially, in the future it could be harming. I think its not advisable to do it everyday and night (although there is something about matching pyjamas) But honestly, each parent knows their own kids and I cant see my two letting the world see them as anything but individuals, matching clothes or not. So thank you, anonymous child psychologist (apparently).