Should Moms Dress Like Their Teen Daughters?

Posted August 22, 2011 by

Photo of barbaragreenberg

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?


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

Popular on Empowering Parents

View Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Rosebud149 Report

    My 15 and 13 year old daughters are always stealing my clothes, but I have to admit, I have several of their things in my drawers. I have always been fashion conscious and why should I stop just because I am a mom? As long as you dress modest and be a good example to your daughters, what could be the problem?

  2. Rebecca Report

    I lost over 40 pounds when I turned 40 years old and went from a size 14 to a five. When I went to look for a new wardrobe (after ditching all my oversized mom-of-four sweatpant wardrobe) I found absolutely NOTHING that I liked in the Womens department. Where were all the cute clothes? Didn’t take me long to figure out they were in the Juniors department. Yes, my teenage daughter and I SHARE our wardrobe. I don’t wear shirts that show my belly or skirts that are too short….but then again, my daughter doesn’t wear those either. I don’t feel silly at 45 wearing clothes that I like. We share. Its fun AND economically sound. 🙂 Yes, I make silly smiley faces too!

  3. Cathy in Montana Report

    Of course I don’t think women should dress like girls, it looks soooooooooooooo silly. So obvious that they are not secure or confident and just silly. Thanks for asking! Cathy in Montana

  4. glork Report

    If you are the parent of an adolescent and you are dressing from Urban Outfitters, I hate to be blunt,but you both have problems. One is called “I dont want to grow up and I just want to be my daughter’s contemporary” and another issue is called ” My mom never really came across as an authority figure, so why should I take her seriously?” If you have 15 (!?!) pairs of jeans in your closet, the closet of an adult woman and you as a PhD. are asking if your teenage daughter is to blame, then I would be asking other questions. Like,what kind of attention are you dressing for exactly?

  5. India Report

    I think that this is a really good article. I guess I never thought about this too much until now. I feel that this is very true. I know mothers along with their daughters who do all of these things together. Not that I think it is bad I actually feel it can be a good thing as long as there’s a balance. Parents are still parents and should be that as well as their child’s friend.

  6. ginanorma Report

    This article was cute! Thanks for your insight. Although humorously enough, I think it has been the other way around with my daughter and I! She is the one trying to copy me; for years she didn’t like the way I dressed; saying it was too “different”, well now she loves it! I am a 37 year old mom with a 16 year old daughter though. Anyway, fun to read, thanks!



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families