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Mom-elgangers: When Moms Dress Like Their Daughters

According to recent fashion research, moms think their teenagers are the new black.

| July 27th, 2011
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Fashion is a Family Affair with Moms and Teens

Traditionally, we think of blossoming girls sneaking into their mom’s closet to snatch stylish items as a rite of passage.

But new research shows that nowadays, the fashion flow has done an about face. Moms are copping their daughters' style.

A new study from Temple University’s Fox School of Business published in a recent issue of The Journal of Consumer Behavior found that while moms might hold the purse strings, their purchases mimic their daughters' taste. “The impact adolescents have on their parents is much more profound than has been credited to them," says Dr. Ayalla A. Ruvio, an assistant professor of marketing. When it comes to fashion, they “found that mothers doppelgang their adolescent daughters.”

With 343 mother/daughter pairs surveyed in Israel, the study unveiled that moms consider their fashionable teens their personal style icons.

We here at YouBeauty.com found American moms just as willing to give credit where credit is due—to their chic children. Felicia, 44, says of her 14-year-old, “I love the way this girl works with colors and styles! We both very often find ourselves in jeans and similar tops.”

Paula, 55, isn’t shy about borrowing her daughter’s clothes, but she puts her own stylish spin on them. She admits to snagging stuff out of her 18-year-old’s closet, “All the time, and I wear them often with layering.”

Amy, 49, won’t directly take items from her two teen daughters, 17 and 19, but she confesses, “Sometimes I buy something for myself with them in mind anyway, knowing they will want it.”

MORE: Get Your Best Clothing Fit Yet

Just as the fashion industry looks to youth culture for fads, moms have to look no further than their own teenage daughters for tips on how to dress hip. Amy, for instance, has picked up a lot from her two teen daughters: “hair straightening, body art and trendy ways to put together outfits.” She explains, “They are up on reading the fashion mags.”

Ruvio notes that teens “have a strong interest in brands and fashion…During this period of their lives, they are struggling to build their own, independent identity.” So, they actively seek out ways to be in vogue, providing the style shorthand to their mom. The study also found that more the mother identifies herself as “young at heart,” the more clothing and makeup cues she’ll co-opt from her young adult daughter.

Although it may seem like an obvious fashion faux pas for a middle-aged woman to try to dress like a teen, the researchers did find a relative caveat that keeps things kosher, from a style standpoint. Likewise, the researchers related, “In order for the daughter to be a role model for the mother in the consumption domain, she needs to show an interest in fashion and exhibit an older cognitive age.” The more savvy and sophisticated the daughter, the more likely her mother is to follow her stylish lead.

Now, if moms look to teens for fashion inspiration and validation, who are teens emulating? The answer: Celebrities.

But ironically, even celebrity moms  want to dress like their teen daughters. Demi Moore walked the red carpet in twin tan outfits with her 17-year-old daughter Tallulah. Dina Lohan and her daughters Lindsay and Ali always look like they’re in a girl group with their seemingly coordinated ensembles. And even a fashion icon like current Dolce & Gabbana model Madonna can’t resist dressing up like her 15-year-old daughter, Lourdes, a maven with her own clothing line.

When it comes to fashion, the classic expression should be flipped.

Like daughter, like mother.

MORE: Dress for Your Body Shape

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