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Here's why you'll never see my sons in matching outfits (no, not even at bedtime)

I want to teach my kids to think for themselves – and that starts with the clothes they wear, says Chrissie Russell.

Image: Shutterstock

TWO KIDS IN, I’ve come to realise that rules are flexible things. In particular, the rules you lay down for yourself as a parent, and end up breaking as the weeks and months go on.

“They’ll never have sugar!” was an early declaration of mine, swiftly swapped for, “A few chocolate buttons won’t do much harm.”

Then there was, “I’m absolutely not going to be one of those parents who has the kids in the bed with them!” Well, baby number two is now 15 months old, and it’s my husband in his own bed, not the baby.

Chocolate and sleeping habits aside, there’s one personal rule I’m determined not to break, and that is dressing my two sons in the same clothes. The matching thing – or Identikids as I call them – is just not for me.

My mam grew up often dressed the same as her sisters (despite them being very different shapes and characters) and some 50 years on she’s STILL not happy about it.

I really, really don’t want my kids grumbling to their offspring about how Granny put them in matching PJs and scarred them for life.

It’s a lot of work, let’s face it

On a practical level for starters, I know the approach wouldn’t work in our house. I do have a grudging respect for parents who manage to nail coordinating outfits.

How do they make sure one child’s top isn’t in the wash thanks to a spillage, or that the other one hasn’t grown out of his trousers? How do they manage to find shops where the same item is in stock in EXACTLY the sizes they need?

shutterstock_1085601245 Source: Shutterstock

My two guys look similar in the face, but they are totally different body types and don’t fit into clothes from the same shops. One is fine with the cut of trousers from one high street store while they look like leggings on the other.

Finding matching outfits for them reminds me of the stress of dressing several bridesmaids of different shapes and sizes into a dress that suits them all. The result is impressive, but involves a lot of hard work.

One style doesn’t fit all

And even if I did manage to source the perfectly matching outfits in complementary colours that suited each son’s shape and size, I just don’t think the approach really allows for different ages and interests – certainly not with one child at 15 months and the other at five years.

Little dungarees are only going to look cute on one of them, let’s be honest. And why stick a one-year-old into a shirt and jeans when you know you’re going to have to battle with buttons, collars and waistbands for every nappy change?

But it’s not just the basic logistics that give me pause.

Independent thinkers (and dressers)

There’s something about styling children the same as each other that I just find a bit cringey. They’re kids, not accessories or Russian dolls. And plus, just because they’re siblings doesn’t automatically mean my sons need to be presented as a pair.

I’m keen to foster independent thinking and decision making in my youngsters and that includes offering them (the oldest one anyway) some sense of say in what he wears.

I can understand why choosing matching outfits for little ones might make the daily routine of dressing simpler in some ways, but beyond that, I can’t see much of a reason to do it. And no, Instagram likes is not a reason.

When I think about my son’s wardrobes, I’m reminded of a quote from one of their favourite books, The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

“This is the first time there’s ever been YOU,” writes Emily Winfield Martin.

I want my sons to know they are individuals. They’re not part of a pair, they’re not the same as anyone else and that’s great.

I don’t want them absorbing (even from a young age) the idea that they need to look like anyone else or that sameness is a desirable thing. Clothes are part and parcel of your identity – so why not celebrate their individuality?

More: ‘Nothing can actually prepare you’: 8 mums share how they dealt with their fears about giving birth>

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