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Would you 'twin' outfits with your children? 

Janene Crossley, her husband and their children match their outfits
Janene Crossley, her husband and their children match their outfits Credit: Instagram @janenecrossley

The trend for ‘family twinning’ – Mum, Dad and the kids  all wearing the same outfit – started off as a mostly  American Instagram craze.  Yet it is now catching on in the UK. Emily Cronin weighs it up

When creative director Katie Impey strolls barefoot on Camber Sands in ruffle-backed linen dungarees, or promenades through Chester Racecourse in frilled florals, or snuggles down for a cosy evening at home in striped knitwear, often she does so in the company of two tiny replicas, aged eight and three, dressed in outfits exactly the same as hers. ‘There’s always been some kind of theme or colour coordination that runs through all of our outfits, since day one,’ says the 34-year-old – though what feels like second nature to her still strikes passers-by as a charming novelty. 

‘When my daughters are in coordinating outfits, they get lots of oohs and aahs. And then if people see me wearing the same thing, they’re like, “Oh, you too!” It always gets a bit of a surprised reaction.’

As if it weren’t enough of a challenge for parents to get themselves and their offspring out of the house on time and in (relatively) clean clothes, now there’s another element to contend with: the new trend for family twinning. That is, the phenomenon of entire families – Mum, Dad, kids, and sometimes dogs and grandparents – dressing in matching outfits.

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Parents have dressed their children alike for decades, but this latest development is driven by Instagram. Search #twinning or #minime on the app and you’ll find millions of tagged posts – many fseaturing actual twins dressed alike, but a surprising number showing identikit families. In the US, blogger Janene Crossley (@janenecrossley, 300,000-plus followers) goes by the Instagram bio: ‘We like to match.’

The trend is catching on in the UK, too. It began with matching Christmas jumpers, but has tipped into the wardrobe mainstream on the high street. Matalan and Next now have family-matching collections, offering swimwear for the summer and pyjama sets and jumpers for autumn.

H&M is building on the popularity of this summer’s mother-daughter collection of holiday-ready sundresses and tunics with an autumn range of matching outfits for the whole family (chunky cable-knit jumpers and teddy-bear coats for mothers and daughters; corduroy jackets and plaid flannel shirts for fathers and sons). Maria Ostblom, head of womenswear design at H&M, says the summer collection was ‘a great success’, adding, ‘Coordinating separates is fun for everyone.’ 

Designs from H&M's autumn mini me collection Credit:  

Luxury-fashion designers seem to agree. It’s not unusual to spot clients on Dolce & Gabbana’s front row accessorising their couture looks with a matching child. And Beyoncé and daughter Blue Ivy, as well as various Kardashian/Jenner women and their offspring, have stepped out in matching Gucci dresses and the like.

Australian label Zimmermann, meanwhile, offers girls’ playsuits and skirts in the same dreamy florals as its adult collection (and for a fraction of the price – a girls’ dress might cost £135, as opposed to £500 and up for adult styles). 

Twinning has also fuelled a number of British apparel start-ups, such as Scamp & Dude, Didi + Bud, Freya Lillie and Little Style Stories. ‘A lot of smaller children love to wear the same as their parents. It’s just a bit of fun, like being in a little club together,’ says Jo Tutchener-Sharp, founder of Scamp & Dude. She initially introduced adult-sized sweatshirts because she wanted to wear the designs; now her adults’ range is as big as the kids’ collection.

Still, the trend’s most enthusiastic practitioners live in America. Crossley, who is based in Dallas, Texas, regularly shares photos of herself, her husband and their four children in near-identical outfits. In one, Crossley and her three daughters wear matching lemon-print swimsuits; in another, they all wear leopard-print activewear, her son in coordinating neutrals. ‘Twinning outfits makes getting dressed so much easier, and it’s fun,’ Crossley says. ‘It’s sweet to watch my youngest grin from ear to ear when she spots me wearing a dress exactly like hers.’

Blogger Janene Crossley and her children Credit: Instagram @janenecrossley

Christy and Ryan Beck (@the.becktriplets, 145,000 followers) won’t go shopping with their 18-month-olds unless they’re in ‘synced-up’ outfits – yellow stripes, say, or printed tees and oatmeal skirts or shorts. 

In the UK, most twinning influencers – ‘twinfluencers’, let’s say – disavow such stage-managed perfection, or distance themselves from the idea of twinning. They’ll grudgingly admit to it, but with an asterisk. ‘We tend not to do exact matchy-matchy,’ says mummy ’grammer Shell Mills, 38, who shares photos of herself and her daughter wearing stripes or florals, or them and her son in coordinating-but-different Mr Wolf slogan ‘Positivitees’ (‘Be quirky,’ ‘Be yourself,’ ‘Be brave’) on her @shellandthelittlies feed.

‘I don’t like us to do exact matching because then it’s like the kids don’t have their own personal style. I feel it’s taking their identity away a little bit,’ she says. ‘A lot of our wardrobes match so it just naturally happens without planning it.’

If she finds ‘the traditional way of twinning’ distasteful, Mills also acknowledges the upsides of dressing to match the kids. ‘It connects you as a family and gives you a family identity, and looks really cute as well. It’s quite fun when people notice.’

Few photos from British twinfluencers feature Dad, unless it’s in a ‘my blue jumper coordinates with my family’s blue outfits but I would wear this regardless’ way – though Karen Maurice (@n4mummy), 36, a former fashion buyer, has posted the odd picture of her partner and children in complementary looks. The most common exception is pyjamas. For many families taking a picture in matching sleepwear on Christmas morning has become a key ritual. And why not? It’s a category that’s easier for both Grandpa and the baby to slip into than, say, tiers of ruffles. 

‘I never expected to get three generations in the same pyjamas,’ says Becky Hodges, founder of Didi + Bud. Hodges launched her brand three years ago, offering British-made, organic-cotton children’s pyjamas, but it truly took off once she introduced men’s sizes. Now the biggest sellers are her whole-family sets, available in pleasingly un-twee prints of winter trees and superhero masks. Singer Stacey Solomon and footballer-turned-TV pundit Rio Ferdinand have both outfitted their families in her sleepwear. 

Devotees and critics of twinning agree that Instagram drives it. But it also has historical precedent. ‘In the past, children wore miniature versions of adult clothing from about the age of five onwards,’ says Susan North, senior curator in the V&A Fashion, Textiles and Furniture Department. Portraits from the Tudor and Stuart periods depict boys in doublets and breeches like their fathers and girls in the same stiff gowns as their mothers. Dressing twins and siblings alike ‘has a long tradition, probably based on both sentiment and economy’.

Before the development of ready-made clothing, mothers would buy fabrics for their tailors or seamstresses to cut into child-sized garments: ‘It made sense to buy in bulk, with some to spare for mending and expanding.’

Why now? That twinning, with its impression of sunny, scrubbed-clean families, should emerge in the current social and political climate is no surprise to behavioural psychologist and consultant Carolyn Mair. ‘The world is in turmoil and everything is uncertain. People are looking for cohesion that they just aren’t seeing… Dressing alike presents a united front; it gives us a sense of strength, and that we share the same values. It sends that message out very explicitly, that we are bonded.’ 

Twinning amplifies the concept of family ties. A family that twins won’t be one in which every child gazes at their own iPad at a restaurant table, is the idea. 

‘And it’s quite fun, I think,’ adds Mair. ‘In a world that is so tumultuous and problematic, it’s quite nice to have this element of fun.’

I can see the appeal. After having my third child last year, I received gifts that had me – a fashion editor in possession of a borderline outrageous shoe wall – tamping down flickers of envy. Chief among them were a Fendi sweatshirt (size three months; he wore it twice) and a teal leopard-and-rainbow-pattern cotton-cashmere jumper from British brand The Bonnie Mob.

I snapped a photo and posted it in an Instagram story with the caption, ‘How to deal when you covet your baby’s knitwear? Love this @bonniemob.’  Founder Tracey Samuel soon informed me that the brand does in fact offer the style in adult sizes, and, better yet, that this twinning opportunity was part of its charity range.

‘If I suggested making similar jumpers for adults and babies when I started 14 years ago, people would have laughed at me,’ Samuel says. ‘But in the past two and a half years, twinning has helped us raise around £12,000 for Refugee Support Europe.’

I’m sold (and waiting for my jumper to arrive), but not convinced I could (or should) entice the rest of the family to join in. If you can’t foresee your older kids or partner going along with it, heed Becky Hodges’ advice.  ‘Try it. Don’t dismiss something that you haven’t tried. My husband would never have thought he’d wear matching pyjamas – now he’s a complete convert.’

'If you go out matching, people always comment'

Karen Maurice (@n4mummy)

Karen Maurice and her daughter Credit: Instagram @n4mummy

‘My daughter [Daisy, five] loves clothes, and she really loves copying me. If you go out matching, people always comment. They’re like, “Aw, that’s so sweet.” I don’t know whether or not people will say that as she gets older. I’m sure we’ll keep dressing alike until she decides that she doesn’t [want to be just like me] – I have no idea when that will be. I’m happy to do it as long as she’s happy; I would never make her do something she didn’t want to do. Maybe around eight? Girls can be quite opinionated.’

'We coordinate most weekends'

Katie Impey (@themumlife_styled)

Katie Impey and her daughters Credit: Instragram @themumlife_styled

‘I generally dress to suit my mood or the weather, or the activity we’re doing. I then follow that through into the girls’ [Isabella Rose, eight, and Charlotte Luella, three] wardrobes, because I’m dressing them. We coordinate most weekends. There’s a theme that runs through our outfits: this Saturday, it was mustard; on Sunday, we wore checks. They might not be identical or matching, but there’s always a vibe.’

'There's a lot more out there to match with my daughter, but I always try to include my son'

Shell Mills (@shellandthelittlies)

Shell Mills and her children Credit: Instagram @shellandthelittlies

‘We tend not to do exact matchy-matchy.  I prefer doing something like a T-shirt,  where we’re all wearing one in different  colours but with the same kind of slogan. There’s a lot more out there to match with my daughter [Valli, three], but I always try to  include my son [Rocco, five] in with us as well. He’ll wear the boys’ version of whatever it is – maybe a Breton striped T-shirt if we’re wearing striped dresses… I think this has become a trend because people are more experimental and like to have a bit more fun with what they wear now.’

Would you 'twin' outfits with your children? Tell us in the comments below