17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


When I was a kid my mom dressed my sister and me alike, a lot. We had matching purple sailor dresses, matching lanz pajamas (several Christmas's in a row), matching Halloween costumes (we were both ballerinas one year), and the list goes on. I don't remember seeming to mind, actually I probably loved it. I always said that I would never dress my kids as "twins" especially if I had twins. I am big on one's own identity.

Of course I have broken my rule a few times. The first was when I wanted a sweatsuit for each girl and old navy had the perfect one on sale, for both sizes in only one color. I had a brand new baby, and honestly I couldn't think beyond one child, so it was easy to just find something I liked and buy two of the same. That purchase felt like when I get a few shirts in different colors because I like the fit. It wasn't an intentional: "Oh--my---gaw---this is so cute----I have to have my kids matching!----EEEEEE!"

However, this Easter, I did LOVE one of the dresses that Children's place did, and I bought one for each girl in two different colors. Again, I didn't buy it for the sake of matching, I just really liked the dress, and since I have two girls, I bought it for both. Now since I am not a hard core matchy matchy mom...what IS the motivation behind the kids being matchy matchy twinners in photos and in life? And when/why does it sometimes span to the parents or the entire family? Ever seen those families at Disneyland all wearing neon orange? Maybe that is for safety purposes...I digress.

Last summer I was going to be in Utah with my husband's family and wanted a family portrait. I was researching photographers and most of their websites had photos with the family all matching. Like this was a good thing. How is it possible that every person in a family looks good in one outfit/color? I realize that in some cases this works (maybe)...but I fear that it is not so in most. I have attached an example of what I think is an awesome family photo, and I love the color scheme. If you have to go to that matchy place, I vote for this example...(ok I will let you take away the martini and the legs, but look it all matches but in a good way right?)

Anyway, can someone please explain the phenomenom/impulse/habit perhaps/ of the matchy matchies....?


  • I am trying to think of how I can describe this and not sound like a picture snob. Hmmmm. I agree that competely matching has NEVER been a favorite to me. BUT, we do like to coordinate. And that is what you like too, it sounds like. If it FLOWS... like shades of a color, in different outfits, not matching ones, it will look natural like it "fits". But not IN-YOUR-FACE "we all chose black to wear so we would look so chic in this shot". (I personally think wearing all black makes it look like its a shoot for a daySPA/salon NOT A FAMILY!)

    I do think in certain cases this may be better than nothing for certain groups of people. If there is a large group that is coming in from all over and the person in charge wants continuity and can't screen the clothes, then people say, "Okay, lets have everyone wear red" .

    I'm thinking it's like there are levels of qualaity in family photography, and level 1 would be like a polaroid, and level 10 would be like a white house family portrait or something. Something REALLY AWESOME. And UNI- color matching would fall somwhere below(less refined) multi-color cordinating (slightly more refined). I hope that is a clear description ?

    Anyway, I have spent probably way too much time thinking about this topic as well because we have ALWAYS done a picture in our Christmas card EVERY year for the entire 10 years we've been married. (Even when we had no kids!) What can I say, I like having cute photos of us!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/30/2006 06:52:00 AM  

  • My MIL always buys my girls matchy and then takes pictures of them.

    I don't mind matching dresses (or clothes) that are different colors, (like your first picture) but completely twinners bugs me a little. My MIL loves it. I don't know why. I have no explanation.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 8/30/2006 08:00:00 AM  

  • Many reasons why families, or photographers choose all one color is yes for continuity, but also to draw LESS attention to the clothing and more to the face of the individuals. We've all seen those photos with Aunt so and so in her bright pink when everyone else is in muted colors - she then becomes the focus of the photograph unintentionally all due to color.

    Also, with large UTAH families, color coding helps to match each family with its own members.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/30/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • I think that when everyone is matchy matchy you loose personality, and personality is what you WANT to capture in a photograph. I am in favor of a well coordinated effort (ie: same color scheme for people but same clothes, per se).

    And as for pictures, we decided when DS was born that we are NOT studio picture people. There is something that feels so false and canned to me about studio pictures, especially of kids. It's not a normal environment!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/30/2006 08:22:00 AM  

  • I knew a woman who would pick out the color of clothes her family would wear in portraits to match the frame and color scheme in the room she planned to hang the picture.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 8/30/2006 08:24:00 AM  

  • Chloe - I totally agree with you. We are not studio people either. I don't know why I can't bring myself to get studio pictures taken (even though I know that a lot of studios are taking more "natural" looking pictures nowadays). You're right... there is something so fake and posed and contrived about them. I mean, kids are so cute in normal life why get a posey picture taken. Even though I will say, not all of us are great photographers ourselves, so maybe that is why the studio phenomenon is out there. I think that we will have a friend who is a photographer take some natural pictures of DS.

    Yeah Kage, I like the idea of coordinating colors that compliment eachother.... not the matchy thing. There is a family I know that every year takes a picture and they are all wearing khaki pants and a white polo. It doesn't bring out their faces for me. It makes me just focus on all the khaki and white b/c that's the majority of the picture.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/30/2006 09:45:00 AM  

  • The only matchy things my girls have had is Christmas pajamas.

    The Disneyland phenomenon is definitely for sefety purposes. It makes it easier to locate everyone in your group and easily spot a stray member in a large crowd. When I was a YMCA counselor, we made all the kids wear the same camp shirt (as well) as the couselor when we went to amusement parks. I can't imagine keeping track of 10 8-year olds any other way.

    For family photos, you have to have some kind of clothing restrictions to create a "flow" like Rachel H stated. But I agree with Beth that being completely matching makes the clothing actually more distracting than less. Having some sort of broad theme is good. Then no one sticks out and everyone can come up with something they look good in.

    Polo shirt and Khaki/denim pictures just kill me. The fabrics are just so flat and uninteresting. If you just add in some texture - a subtle stripe, a white embroidery, some layers, it makes all the difference.

    My girls just look better in different colors. My tan blonde looks great in warm colors while my fair red-head looks strange in the same. She needs to wear more cool colors. That is another reason they will rarely (if ever) be matchy matchy.

    There are somedays though, that I am obviously in a specific color mood because we leave the house and I notice we are all wearing the same color pallete (that's for you Kage).
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/30/2006 11:21:00 AM  

  • I frequently put my girls in matching outfits if we are headed to a crowded place. Both are prone to running, often in seperate directions, and it makes it easier to keep track one color when they are apart.

    As for portraits...We often ask family members to either wear all dark or all light colors. However, we do not specify that everyone be in the exact matching outfits. I've always thought that the color continuity makes the people pop out more in the pictures.
    posted by Blogger Ryann at 8/30/2006 11:51:00 AM  

  • I think there's some room for color continuity in group photos, although I agree that the white-and-khaki thing bugs, for some reason, as does the "group families by matching colored polos" with extended families. Following a certain palette or tone can look nice and bring the photo together, though.

    Also, the safety thing--my sis in particular, who has four girls ages 2-9, always dresses all four the same, or two and two the same, when they're traveling or otherwise in a large crowded spot (like the D-land). Her specific reasoning is that if she loses one, she can say to helpers, "We lost a ()-yr-old girl who looks kinda like this and is dressed just like this."

    I'm not sure how effective that is, but it seems like a good idea.

    I think matching on occasion can be cute if the kids are into it. Forcing them to match (esp. twins what with the whole separate identity thing), maybe not such a good idea.
    posted by Blogger Eliza at 8/30/2006 01:01:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Eliza at 8/30/2006 01:03:00 PM  

  • I know I am TOTALLY outnumbered here, but oh well. I've got 4 girls (7,5,3,1) and they're all blonde with blue eyes, olive skin and I do the matchy thing. Not always, but I have to say that it's been the easiest for me. I LOVE it and think it's ADORABLE. They all have such different personalities that I can't imagine my matching them at times will scar them. If I find something in all their sizes and LOVE it then it's a go. So easy. It's harder now to find sizes, so we adjust. Not a big deal. Never have liked the khaki,polo,denim thing. I prefer color that just flows. My oldest is starting to "like and dislike" certain things now and I'm good with that. But, I love matching them too. To me, when I see a fam in same shirts but different colors, I just think that they couldn't find the sizes in the ONE they loved.
    posted by Anonymous cali at 8/30/2006 01:24:00 PM  

  • I will join Cali in the minority.
    I love to match my girls' clothes. They wear matching dresses about 90% of the time and maybe once a week for play clothes. They love it, but they are only 4 and 2 so they love what I tell them is cute (mostly).

    I think one can easily go overboard though. My cousin Grace has 2 girls and I have never seen them not match - not once. We were at a week long family reunion. They were identical from hair to shoes everyday. My cousin was a twin and her twin has a super independent, kind of quirky spirit. Grace wanted to wear matching outfits sometimes but her twin always refused. So I think she's making up for missing out. I mean what's the fun of being a twin if your sister won't humour you sometimes?
    posted by Anonymous eechupa at 8/30/2006 01:54:00 PM  

  • carrie, the other day, seriously all three of us had on aqua, pink and white. All three....didn't even plan it, it was totally embarrassing when I caught a glimpse of us in a store window at the bus stop
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/30/2006 04:42:00 PM  

  • eechupa, I have seen kids like that too. For me, even if I intended to dress my kids the same down to the accessory, I would be so totally unsuccessful because I would never be able to find anything. A few Sundays ago my baby wore two different jelly sandals...one green and one purple (same style) b/c I could not find the pairs...luckily I had one for each foot or else we would have been late or she would have gone barefoot. turns out she sort of made a fashion statement.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/30/2006 06:56:00 PM  

  • We have 3 extended families, and interestingly enough, all three are so completely different when it comes to family pictures.

    For my family, we actually buy shirts --matching for all the women and then different ones for the guy that are all matching, but with the same color scheme. We tend to be slightly obsessed and will take a long time to make sure the shirts look good on everyone --color and cut.

    For my FIL's family, it's always white and collared shirts. ALWAYS. To be honest, we're sick of it, because what 3 year old girl has a white, collared shirt?

    For my MIL's family, it's whatever the heck you are wearing and come as you are! It's actually really fun, because it is so super casual. We also don't do it very often, so it's more fun. However, this last time, I don't know what I was thinking, but I wore white. Yes, I am a huge, huge distraction in the pic and I hate it (the fact that I'm a distraction, not the pic).

    I've often dressed my two girls in matchy clothes --mostly for holidays. But now that they are older, I don't do it as much. Mostly for some of the same reasons others mentioned --they have COMPLETELY different complexions, eye color and hair color. Some things will look good on them both, but not all things...And to be honest, I think I've just gotten lazy. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/30/2006 07:53:00 PM  

  • I think back to my Mom. She would sew us matching things now and then, or buy matching nightgowns. (She had 7 girls, 2 boys). One Christmas she had made every kid a solid color nightgown with a roman numeral of what kid they were on the chest. We all look back at that picuture and LOVE it. We were dang cute in those! So, I think of those and of our giant "coordinating" stuffed bears my mom made us one year, and other matchy things. I think Moms do it (I don't think its often Dad's idea) because it's a sweet family unity kind of thing. It's a togetherness. Mom's pride of her kids. Her girls. Together. That's my feeling, at least. (And I think it has little to do with not letting kids be individuals.)As far as family portraits go, I think that's partly it. I think most parents don't even think about bothering with who looks good in what shades, etc. (Esp. with big families). Perhaps having a matchy portrait looks better than a mis-match portrait. An informal family pic at a picnic would do better with "come as you are." I have seen some really great matchy portraits. As said before, it just depends how you do it. I tend to "coordinate" with our few we've done because I don't want to go out and buy much.

    As far as studios are concerned, I always said (with my first) that I didn't need to take gajillions of portrait shots like some moms do (sears, walmart, jcpenney) because I have plenty of cute ones myself and I wasn't going to follow the crowd. Well, I partly still agree. But, now I've done a few professional ones and the fact is they turn out GREAT. So cute! I wish I had done just a few more of my first and second as babies. There's something about a white/black backdrop and the focus of one child (or group) without background distractions.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/31/2006 06:22:00 AM  

  • katie, I can't even remember what you're kids were wearing in the last one you got done...which is good...b/c I just know it is totally great of all three kids...so I am glad you got them done.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/31/2006 06:48:00 AM  

  • Thanks, kage. I love that one. Ha--it was sort of spur of the moment. It was funny, when we went in, dd was wearing a black t-shirt and ds was in bright orange. The lady was like, "Umm, so she's in black, and he's in orange..." I told her they dressed themselves and I brought changes of shirts in case the studio actually could fit us in as "walk-ins". They ended up all in summer play clothes--light colors that looked good together. Ok, don't know if ya'll wanted the WHOLE story. But I guess it sorta relates.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/31/2006 08:58:00 AM  

  • My mom had six daughters before I (the only boy) was born. She sewed close to 100% of my older sisters' clothes, so there was a lot of matching going on. When I came along it threw off some of the symmetry, but many of my favorite childhood pictures are of my family at Disneyland in the late 60's in our dorky matching BYU sweatshirts. The fact that I grew up so decidedly un-BYU-like makes those pictures even more fun for me...

    I agree that kids need to have their own identities, but sometimes those matching outfits can be a source of wonderful, long lasting memories in and of themselves.
    posted by Anonymous old man c at 8/31/2006 04:09:00 PM  

  • That reminds me of the matching, hand embroidered dresses my mom used to make my sisters when the family was still small (5 under the age of 5). I don't know how she did it but the pictures are just fabulous!!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/31/2006 06:58:00 PM  

  • My boys have TONS of matching shirts. Not always with pants, but most jeans look alike anyways.
    My number one reason?
    If I lose one, I always know what they're wearing.
    Plus it's pretty fun to say "My boys are those two, in the AC/DC shirts"....
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 8/31/2006 09:27:00 PM  

  • I love this post. We can all relate somehow.

    As for matching kids...I love it. My mom used to dress my sister and I in matching outfits (different colors) but we loved it. She even went as far to get our Cabbage Patch dolls the same pajamas as ours for Christmas Eve. I will never forget it and I was 5!

    HOWEVER, With that said..as adults... I hate the family portraits that are all in 2-3 colors. Really?..why are still hanging on to that? I dispise it so much that even for my wedding...no color dress code. I told everyone to wear what they want! We are all adults.. and the pictures were fabulous!I love the individuality!

    If you really worry about it, go for black and white photographs and save the family relationships. Forcing your family into matchy outfits just isn't worth it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/31/2006 10:20:00 PM  

  • anon, as I have read the comments and thought more about this, I decided that this tradition of matching really does start with the wedding. Although, I don't know the history of weddings and when the matching bridesmaid dresses started. I had 8 girls all in the same dress....wow...that's intensity. And if I were to plan a wedding this year, there is no way I would do that, but I would like to think I have grown in my styling and fashion sense since 8 years ago. Anyway, I think that is where it all starts...

    Wouldn't it be fun if we started a flickr album with our fave fam photos like the ones we have mentioned?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/01/2006 04:55:00 AM  

  • Here is the group. If you are a member of flickr, just make me a contact, and then leave me a message and I will invite you to the group. Once you are invited, you select a photo in your account and click on: SEND TO GROUP and you will see MATCHY MATCHIES there, and you can post it.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/01/2006 05:23:00 AM  

  • There are a few more matchy matchy photos posted in our flickr group:

    If you're interested....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/06/2006 11:10:00 AM  

  • Now, that's a family photo
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/11/2006 01:10:00 PM  

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