One of my very favorite blogs and websites is Sew, Mama, Sew, a sort of collective of tutorials, pattern reviews, and information on all things sewing-related as well as an online fabric store. If you haven’t been there, definitely check it out.

That said, I’m pretty disappointed in a discussion that’s going on there right now on the subject of matching clothes for family members. You can read the comments here. The vast — and I do mean VAST — majority of the commenters say they would never dress their children in matching outfits (some words that crop up repeatedly are “creepy” and “tragic”) and that they themselves would never dress in clothes that match their children’s.

Well, I suppose you can tell from this . . .

this . . .

and awhile back, even before #4 was born (I was heavily pregnant in the picture), this . . .

. . . that I LIKE matchy-matchy. It’s one way that we celebrate holidays, and it’s one way that we spot each other in a crowd. There are, after all, a lot of us to keep an eye on.

But more than being offended by the opinions of strangers on the internet, I’m offended by people who think they can speak for other mothers, other parents, and other families. I really feel like ANY decision that a parent makes is between them and their children. Sure, I can say that matchy-matchy is okay for me, but I can’t say it works for you. And, likewise, no one can say that it’s wrong for me to dress my children in matching or coordinating outfits. A few commenters on Sew, Mama, Sew even go so far as to say that dressing children alike ignores their individuality. I personally have found that my children and I have PLENTY of individuality, and that nothing we wear will hide that fact. You know how a larger family tends to be louder than a small family, simply because its members speak up to be heard over the din? Well, personalities work the same way. My little munchkins, as small as they are, know who they are, are proud of who they are, and are open with who they are regardless of what they’re wearing.

And I like to think they’re a little proud of their clothes, too. I make a lot of them, and the rest of them are mostly used. But my children feel beautiful — or handsome, as the case may be, in what they wear. Yes, sometimes they match. And sometimes they don’t. But they are always comfortable, confident, and happy. And that’s really all that matters to me.

All those matching nay-sayers are also forgetting something very important — the individuality that is inherent in making your own and your children’s clothes and the uniqueness of the motivations behind doing so. My children might match, but at least my older kids know why we don’t buy from Walmart, Gymboree, Target, The Gap, etc., etc., etc. And they believe in making and making do as much as I do. My girls do have matching ruffle dresses, but they’re the only two ruffle dresses that look just like that on this earth; they’re not just two girls out of how many thousands wearing the same commercially-produced, non-union-labor clothes from The Children’s Place (no offense if your child is wearing said clothing, you know I’m just making a point). How’s that for individuality?

Well, moving on . . . do you have any opinion on the subject? Any pictures to share? Honestly, and I feel a bit embarrassed by this, it’s never occurred to me that someone might not like my kids’ matching outfits. Now I wonder exactly what people think of when they see us. It’s funny. Sometimes sewing is hard. And sometimes parenting is hard. But sewing AND parenting? It’s a double-whammy. 😉

PS — I put together a flickr set with more pics of my matchy-matchy family-wear, which you can view HERE if you’d like. Thanks for visiting!


24 Responses to “Matchy-Matchy?”

  1. 1 Kristin July 19, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Well said! I think you all look cute. Can I use the picture of the boys in their tshirts? Email me?

  2. 2 georgie July 19, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Why do people have to be so opinionated on how other people choose to live,dress whatever I think it’s mostly that you you choose not to conform to what most people think is the norm!
    I absolutely love the matching outfits there all sooo cute!And your such a good seamstress that should be very proud of there very clever mummy.
    Hugs Georgie x

  3. 3 Leslie July 19, 2010 at 7:14 am

    well honestly, how do people who don’t live at your house or live your life think they can give such a strong opinion on what you and your kids wear. I LOVE the matchy outfits…my kids even try to make themselves match, and i can vouch that it really does nothing to change who they are. I don’t think clothes can do that. SO more power to matching clothes!!!!!

  4. 4 Andrea July 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I’ve been surprised at people sounding upset that I pick out the fabric and patterns for my kid’s clothes. If I was buying them in a store I’d pick something I liked and thought appropriate. I’m sure they do too. So, even if people aren’t matching their kids they are asserting their own tastes on them. I don’t see how they think that is different.

    Once it is in the house the kids can wear whatever they want because it is all mom approved. My kids choose to match a lot. It isn’t really my thing but kids gravitate towards it and I have no problem with it whatsoever!

    I’ve found that with parenting, everyone has an opinion and strongly believes they are best. So strange.

  5. 5 Deanna July 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    You are an inspiration! I agree completely and this statement hits a home run IMO

    “My girls do have matching ruffle dresses, but they’re the only two ruffle dresses that look just like that on this earth; they’re not just two girls out of how many thousands wearing the same commercially-produced, non-union-labor clothes from The Children’s Place (no offense if your child is wearing said clothing, you know I’m just making a point). ”

    Kudos to you!

  6. 6 Natalie July 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    hey just wanted to say I think it’s pretty cool that you make a lot of your kids clothing and I have no problem with families matching. I think matching makes for cute pictures! I plan on making cute outfits and matching mom/dad accessories for my family some day (when we have kids). Keep doing what makes you and your family HAPPY!

  7. 7 BlondiKnits July 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    When I worked in the public schools, I often mused, “As long as they are more or less covered and not carrying a weapon, I don’t care WHAT my students wear to school.”

  8. 8 Tammy July 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I just looked at your Flickr set. Nice work!

    I commented on the SMS post but I didn’t see most of the conversation, as I was one of the first commenters, so I didn’t see the posts against matching clothes.

    My sisters and I loved to dress in matching clothes and I even made up a song for when we were wearing matching clothes! LOL

  9. 9 Erin July 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you, I think you put a fine point on the fact that a good deal of the population thinks they can comment or even prohibit the decisions one makes for their children, even if its as minor as dressing them in matching outfits. Our son is not even school age yet but we get a lot of flack from total strangers when they find out that we are planning to home school. It is our right as parents to decide how our children are educated, what they wear, what they eat, and the majority of parents are going to make good decisions for their kids. Yet the stigma still remains that decisions parents make are somehow going to “damage” their children or “stunt” them. I think that as a population, we tend to WANT to think the worst of someone, instead of the best, which I feel is the true tragedy, not dressing your kids in matching outfits. Pul-LEASE!

  10. 10 kris July 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    i think matchy-ness is adorable, especially homemade matchy-ness 🙂 we only have one kiddo so she’s all on her own for now, since i’m too chicken to make much for myself, lol. but look out whenever she gets a sibling, coordinating outfits here we come! 🙂

    i also think it’s fabulous how you’ve communicated why it is your family does what it does in terms of clothes, etc. i started sewing because i liked the look of a lot of southern trunk show clothes, but thought it reeee-diculous to pay $80 for a dress for a 1 year old. so i sew for her, probably 75% of her wardrobe. and that way i get the same general look, but we make it ours with different fabrics, trims, etc. uniqueness rules 🙂

  11. 12 Amy July 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Okay, so I grew up with the matchy-matchy with 4 sisters. I even remember going to Disneyland in matching rainbow shirts my mom made. I have to admit as an almost teenager I remember being slightly embarrased about matching my sisters at the theme park, but we were easy to spot and you bet if one of us had gotten lost, NO ONE would have been able to take us out of the park without someone noticing.

    With that said, I am super excited that I am having a girl in the fall and know that my two girls will have numerous outfits that match. I love matchy-matchy, especially when they are little. As my older one gets more opinionated (then she already is), I might not be able to do it, but for now I think she thinks it will be cute too. (I’m not so sure what to do with their brother – make a matching tie?) I think it is fun and don’t have a problem with it, but people have opinions and tend to share them with anyone or everyone they think needs to know.

  12. 13 Kristin July 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    In all fairness to the SMS commenters, those that don’t like it, or even hate it, were invited to share their opinion. In fact, they were given incentive to do so in the form on entering the contest. So they were honest about it. This is different than coming to your blog and saying unkind things about a photo or judging one’s parenting. Just an open discussion about a very subjective thing–clothing. I hope no one takes it personally.

  13. 14 everydaychaos July 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Kristin, I agree. And I hope no one takes offense to anything I’ve written here on my blog. Those who said they don’t like matching or that it doesn’t work for their family really didn’t bother me. What did bother me, though, were those who said it was creepy or bad for the children. Or those who openly said that they make fun of people who do it. I don’t like people saying that what I do with my kids is creepy or harmful. And I certainly don’t like people who make fun of others for what they wear. I think those commenters, while absolutely entitled to their opinion, might benefit from opening their minds a little. 🙂

  14. 15 everydaychaos July 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    PS — I think it was a great conversation on SMS. It certainly opened my eyes to a new way of viewing things. And most of the commenters were polite and had good things to say, whether for or against matching clothes.

  15. 16 Jody C. July 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Well said. ‘Nuf said.

  16. 17 Mama Urchin July 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    My sister and I wore matching clothes, especially church clothes when we were little and we also sometimes matched our Mom too. As an adult, my kids have matched each other (or at least coordinated) and I have matched my daughter too. I made matching sweaters for my brother and his son and my daughter and niece have had a number of matching outfits.

    I agree with the previous commenter that matchy-matchy works best when they’re young, I imagine a 13 year old may not want to match their parent or siblings.

  17. 18 annie July 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I clicked over from Sew Mama Sew and just wanted to add my voice of support. I LOVE matching clothes with my family. I always have. I loved matching my mom growing up, even in high school, and no one could say I lost my individuality. 🙂 I make my children’s clothes often, too, and match my daughter and son when I can. We match for holidays and special events. Sometimes just to go to church or the grocery store. Sometimes it’s more coordination than matching, but the effect is the same. I love it. 🙂

    And I love your point of not making decisions for other peoples’ families, no matter what your personal opinion is. I like this post all around. Thanks for writing it.

  18. 19 Sylvie July 20, 2010 at 3:05 am

    What a coincidence, I am making matching dresses for me and my daughters this week.
    I found an old picture of me as a little girl and my mom with matching dresses in the 80’s, and I just wanted to do the same.
    I am using Heather Ross’s Mendocino Sundress pattern for me, and adapting the pattern for my girls. I have asked them if they agreed and my 5 years-old LOVE the idea (the youngest will be pleased for sure, but she doesn’t speak well yet)
    It will be our only matching outfit, but maybe not the last?!

  19. 20 scrapbooker July 20, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Well said. I was quite surprised at the strength of the feelings people have on this topic. I figured that either people like it or don’t like it but didn’t expect it to be a judgmental thing. I was sadly sharing with my DH about how people were calling it “Creepy and tragic”. Good for you for being willing to stand up and say what you’ve said. You are right about just because someone doesn’t like it for their own family, doesn’t mean that it is wrong for everyone else. In this home, my children prefer to match, even though they have the flexibility to not match. And with 6 children there is a whole practical side of wearing matching out and about is busy places…it’s easier to see them and keep track of them when they match. So, yeah for matchy matchy!!! It’s a great thing and I love to see pictures (or in irl) of families who match. Thank you again for posting this, it needed to be said in light of the recent question and responses at Sew mama sew.

  20. 21 Tracy July 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

    If we show up at church with everyone coordinated (we do matchy sometimes, but more often go for coordinated, rather than exact matching, cause that’s usually easier) my 23 year old son who lives on his own will say, “Why didn’t somebody call me, I would’ve worn ‘X’…”

    Obviously, my kids love to match 🙂

    great post (I came from sewmamesew; I totally missed out on the discussion)

  21. 22 mrspilkington July 24, 2010 at 3:24 am

    yep, we enjoy a little matching sometimes. sometimes it just happens — my daughter and i inadvertently wore the same colour in t-shirts yesterday, and she was so proud when people commented. it doesn’t appeal to some, but i won’t hate. 🙂 thanks for the post!

  22. 23 Henrietta August 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

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  1. 1 FFF Winners and Thoughts about Matchy-Matchy | Sew,Mama,Sew! Blog | Trackback on June 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

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