I never played much with dolls much when I was a child – not with Barbies or Cabbage Patch Kids or Holly Hobbie dolls or those unbelievably creepy Baby Alive dolls that were all the rage when I was a little girl. My sister Betsy had one of the Baby Alive dolls but the noises it made while eating its baby food honestly scared me, so I stayed away.
Because I never enjoyed dressing up my dolls, I was surprised when my first daughter J was born in 1995 how much I enjoyed dressing her up. I found her so adorable that I began seeking out brands that would enhance her natural cuteness. I became a fan of Hanna Andersson, Miniboden, Gymboree, and Tea Collection, among others. Unfortunately, my budget didn’t love these brands as much as I did but I was lucky for her to have two grandmothers who enjoyed dressing their first granddaughter up as much as I did. I also got boxes full of beautiful hand me downs from a friend who had both a little toddler girl and a pocketbook more generously endowed than my own. Plus, imagine my happy surprise when I discovered about the time that J was 3 or 4 years old that I could buy the same brands I loved for J to wear on eBay in new or nearly new condition for a fraction of the cost of the same stuff sold in the actual stores or catalogs. I’ve been buying the more expensive brands on eBay ever since.
I have always loved seeing two little girls – sisters or cousins or what have you – wearing cute matching clothing, but alas, I had only J and my two boys when J was a little girl so I couldn’t do the matchy matchy thing. But then, bingo! Along came my niece El, just a few short years younger than J. My matchy matchy instincts kicked in and I began keeping my eyes peeled for great deals where I could buy one outfit for J and another of the same outfit for her cousin El so they could look cute when dressed alike.
Here are J and El dressed alike at Christmastime, along with J’s big brothers E and Henry.
By the time J was about 8 or 9 years old she began wanting to pick out her own clothes to buy, and she was definitely over the matchy matchy thing with her cousin El, which I totally understood.
Fast forward to 2007 when I gave birth to little sister C and then to 2010 when I had baby G – both of them girls. Aha! More little girls to play dress-up with! I had saved virtually all of J’s clothing from newborn sizes up until size 5 or 6 in plastic bins with lids down in our basement. I have no idea why I saved them for that many years. I think I figured that I would pass them along to J for her own little girl if she ever has one. In any event, I found tons of adorable things in the boxes for C and G to wearable babies, toddlers and preschoolers and I also went back to scouring eBay for little girl clothing that I loved. And by the time G could toddle around, I began indulging my love for the matchy matchy look on little girls.
Since C was only 3 years older than G, by the time G was about 18 months old and C was 4 I was able to find lots of items that were alike in the two different sizes that I needed. (And all of the clothes that had originally been J’s went back into their sealed boxes in the basement for her to take if she ever wants to)
C and G are now ages 7 and 10, and in the past 3 years or so I’ve cut out the matchy matchy thing pretty much altogether except for very limited special occasions like Christmas Eve mass and Easter church services. I wouldn’t dress them alike at even these events if either of them had ever complained but they never have.
Unlike big sister J who began voicing definite opinions on her clothing by the time she was in 3rd grade or so, 5th grader C actually likes for me to pick out clothes for her at stores and online because she hates shopping. She would rather do just about anything but shop, even in catalogs. So I shop for her. This year, realizing that she’s almost a middle schooler I’ve been buying her lots more “big kid” clothes, and I know that next year, when she’s in 6th grade she’ll be much more influenced by the way the girls at her school dress than she is now. The end of my ability to just buy what I want her to wear is nigh at hand, and I suspect that once she gets to middle school, her hatred of shopping will disappear and she will begin to have definite ideas about what she will and won’t wear.
But for the moment, she’s just a 10 year old girl who is happy to wear whatever her mom buys her to wear. I know that after this year, when C is in 6th grade, my two youngest girls will never again wear matchy matchy outfits. C will be too old. They did wear the adorable, matching purple velvet dresses I got them for Christmas Eve services last year without any complaints but I know that having a middle schooler dress up just like her little sister on any occasion would be kind of weird so I will be enjoying my last matchy matchy hurrah this Easter. I know that after this, they’ll each be doing their own thing, even for special occasions. But I get one more matchy matchy moment next week on Easter morning. And I’ve already picked out their dresses and shoes, both of which have won approval from the girls. (The dresses look waaay cuter in person than they do in this photo). All items from Target this year.
So, I have reached the end of my matchy matchy years unless I can somehow convince 22 year old college graduate J and her college freshman cousin El to give it another go. Somehow, I don’t think that will be happening. But I’m saying it here, as blog readers are my witnesses, that if I ever have two grandchildren who are girls relatively close in age, watch out!
How about you? Do you love dressing your little kids? Are you fan or foe of the matchy matchy look. Tell me in the comments below.