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Mommy and Me - Matching mother daughter dresses

Posted on 05 May 2014

Vintage Mother Daughter matching dresses from the 1950s - available at dressingvintage.com
Vintage Mother Daughter matching dresses from the 1950s - available at dressingvintage.com

Mother's Day is a really good invented holiday.  Some of the others, like Valentine's Day, kind of bother me but I am 100% on board with a day that celebrates mothers!

 

Vintage 1950's Mommy and Me circle skirt outfits at Dressingvintage.com
Vintage 1950's Mommy and Me circle skirt outfits at Dressingvintage.com

 

Mothers and daughters have a special place in my heart, because I am a daughter and more importantly, because I am a mother to only daughters.  So it might come as no surprise to you that I have a mini obsession with vintage "Mommy and Me" outfits.

 

1924 Jeanne Lanvin vintage matching mother daughter "mommy and me" dresses at the MET

 

Since Mom's are pretty important to their daughters, it's also not surprising that Mommy and Me outfits have been around for a long time - Celebrity moms have always loved coordinating mother daughter clothing! Joan Crawford has become infamous for the matching outfits she wore with her daughter, Christina.  But other mothers and daughters (without such tumultuous relationships) have also been known to wear matching or coordinating outfits!  Katie Holmes, Madonna, Lauren Bacall, Shirley Maclaine, and Judy Garland, just to name a few. 

 

Oddly, we don't see matching outfits on mothers and daughters in products or print advertisements anymore.  I wonder if that is a statement on society or if it was just something that the world decided was no longer in style. What do you think ended the love affair with "mommy and me" outfits?

There used to be Mother and Daughter costume paper dolls!

Mother and daughter matching knits were VERY popular and all of the yarn companies  had pattern books exclusively for them at one time or another.

Mothers and their daughters dressed alike for parties, holidays, and special occasions.
Even matching mother daughter hats, gloves, and handbags became very popular!
Matching Mother Daughter aprons were all the rage in mid century America!
Pattern Books were filled with matching mother daughter dresses.
Sometimes entire families wore matching outfits (not always with the best results).  From TV families like the Partridge Family to real life Moms and dads, matching family fashions have also been around for quite some time!
But since it's almost Mother's day, let's stick with the moms.  There could be books written behind the psychology of why mothers want to dress like their little girls. But what interests me even more, is how advertisers have used that relationship to sell products - They have used matching mothers and daughters to sell PAJAMAS -
And many different types of FABRIC
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Indian Head Cotton Fabric Ad Indian Head Cotton Fabric Ad[/caption]
And surprisingly, a lot off mothers and daughters wearing matching ensembles were used to sell everything relating to and including CARS! 
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Arnold Scaasi vintage dresses for a mother and daughter in an ad for Cadillac Arnold Scaasi vintage dresses for a mother and daughter in an ad for Cadillac[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Mother - Daughter matching leopard coats in a Cadillac Ad Mother - Daughter matching leopard coats in a Cadillac Ad[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Body By Fisher ad with Mother and Daughter wearing matching coats. Body By Fisher ad with Mother and Daughter wearing matching coats.[/caption]
Advertisers used matching mothers and daughters to sell FOOD AND BEVERAGES 
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Vintage Coca Cola Ad featuring mother and daughter in matching dresses Vintage Coca Cola Ad featuring mother and daughter in matching dresses[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Morton Salt Ad featuring Mother and Daughter in matching dresses and aprons Morton Salt Ad featuring Mother and Daughter in matching dresses and aprons[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]1960's Grape Nuts ad featuring matching mother and daughter 1960's Grape Nuts ad featuring matching mother and daughter[/caption]
And I guess there is no cleaner pair than a mother and daughter in coordinating outfits because they have been featured for decades in ads for HYGIENE PRODUCTS
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Dr. West's toothbrush ad  Dr. West's toothbrush ad [/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Mother and Daughter in matching dresses for Dr. West's Toothbrushes Mother and Daughter in matching dresses for Dr. West's Toothbrushes[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]Vintage Kotex advertisement featuring mother and daughter in matching dresses Vintage Kotex advertisement featuring mother and daughter in matching dresses[/caption]
During World War II, ads even featured matching mother and daughter fashions for precision products, asking questions like; "Mother, when will you stay home again?" and "Mother, is your job at Adel important?"
But once the war was nearly over, the images changed quite dramatically. The "Yes I Can" women were replaced with women, back in aprons,  performing pre-war duties. The post war images of matching mothers and daughters had a powerful message about women's roles and what would be expected of the women who would be leaving the work force and what would be expected of the little girls who looked just like them, when they grew up. These ads subtly and not so subtly announced that women would be expected to:
1. CLEAN
Vintage Hoover Vacuum ad matching mother and daughter
Vintage Hoover Vacuum ad matching mother and daughter
2. COOK
3. SEW or knit.. and knit.. and knit..
4. SHOP
5. Take care of everything else, but also find time to develop a TALENT
Steinway Grand Piano advertisement featuring mother and daughter in matching outfits.
Steinway Grand Piano advertisement featuring mother and daughter in matching outfits.

So did we stop wanting to be like our moms? Or did the world finally realize that matching outfits doesn't make a little girl into a carbon copy of her mother?  Maybe it's just as simple as - they went out of style, and I am over-thinking it.  Still, I like to imagine what the images would look like in magazine ads today, if mothers and daughters still wore matching dresses!  Would they both be on their cell phones, (sad), running a marathon, working at the same office, or in a spin class together?  I LOVE mommy and me dresses, but my daughters are passed the age of compliance! We wear matching pajamas during the holidays and that's about as far as it goes.  I hope we haven't seen the end of matching mother daughter outfits, but I hope that we wear them with the spirit of fun, knowing that our daughters are much, much more than miniature versions of ourselves!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

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