The Weird Reason Parents Dress Like Their Kids
It could happen to you.
DJ Khaled and his 8-month-old son Asahd sold off their matching suit ensembles this week, making many head-scratching dads ask themselves, “You want me to do what”? But whether you think it’s creepy or cute, parents and kids coordinating their dress codes is actually part of a legitimate, scientifically studied phenomenon known as the Consumer Doppelgänger Effect. Dr. Ayalla Ruvio of Michigan State University first confirmed that mothers dress like their daughters in 2011, and found that mothers do this because they actually trust their daughters’ fashion sense.
“Most mothers are very busy and we don’t have time to monitor the latest fashion or products,” Ruvio, who also has a teen daughter, told Fatherly. “For those of use with teenage daughters, we look to them as experts in that domain.”
When Ruvio and her a team at Temple University surveyed 343 mothers-daughter pairs in 2011, they confirmed this suspicion with data. Mothers were asked about how much their daughters influenced their clothing and makeup purchases, and daughters were asked the same about their mothers. Results revealed that mothers mimicked daughters, but not the other way around. Unsurprisingly, daughters mostly wished moms would get their own look.
But it wasn’t just about bonding over shared tops, Ruvio found. “Mothers really respected the daughters’ opinions, and that part the girls really liked,” she says. Even when daughters were annoyed by their mothers’ mimicry, they still felt validated—imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Overall, it’s a good thing for the parent-child relationship.
Ruvio notes that her study only looked at mothers and daughters. It’s possible that fathers and sons engage in a similar level of outfit matching, but Ruvio predicts that the father would take the lead in these cases—Dads tend to teach their boys how to clean up good. She clarifies that when dads dress to match their kids for special occasions, that’s not the Consumer Doppelgänger Effect at work. “This type of matching is to show affiliation and a bond, but it’s not mimicking,” she explains. Similar to when couples dress alike, this conveys more of a male surrender than expertise. “Mimicking is when you want to look like that person because they know what they’re doing.”
DJ Khaled, then, isn’t trying to look like a baby or wanted to mimic what his baby was an expert in, he’d be doing it in much less expensive pants. He’s not trying to look like a baby, he’s just showing the love.