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Should Moms Dress Like Their Teen Daughters?

Posted by Barbara Greenberg, PhD

Do you look to your teen’s style for your own clothing choices — or do you know moms who do? A Temple University Fox School of Business study found that mothers are more likely to buy what their teen daughters buy, rather than vice versa.

That’s right — moms are copying when it comes to clothing and makeup… and it’s their teen daughters who have a significant influence on them.

This has been dubbed “the consumer doppelganger effect.”   Say the researchers, “It is not merely the mimicking act that is conscious. The findings clearly indicate that the subjects intentionally choose the figure they want to emulate.”

The study included 343 mother-daughter pairs.  The average age of the the mothers was 44 and the daughters were all around 16.  The more youthful and fashionista the mom, the more likely she was to view her daughter as a “style expert” and copy her behavior.

We refer to this in the psychological literature as “child effects.” We used to think that children’s emotional behavior and misbehavior influenced parents’ moods and even their marriages. Never for a second did we think that our teens had such a powerful style influence on us.

And I have to admit, as I look into my own closet, it could almost be mistaken for the closet of a teenager — a stylish teenager, that is. I have at least fifteen pairs of jeans. I am embarrassed to admit that… but I am committed to telling the truth here. Do I have my teen daughter to blame?

My boot collection ranges from over-the-knee boots to suede. I must say that I have a number of summer dresses that I bought in Urban Outfitters when shopping with my daughter. My makeup is made by whatever product line my teen daughter and her friends are endorsing. My very favorite secret is that when they started wearing lip plumpers, I bought three of them in different shades. My friends like to ask if I’ve had lip injections. Nope, I haven’t…

Hmm. Your thoughts on this surprising new study?


About Barbara Greenberg, PhD

Barbara is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language-A Parents Guide to Becoming Bilingual with Jennifer Powell-Lunder PsyD and the co-creator of the website

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