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Shift sewing patternIn 1966, my mother bought the two of us matching shift dresses in crisp orange gingham. Digging around through 1960s advertising, I discovered that dressing alike wasn’t merely Mom’s idea of something cool to do; it was a huge mid-century trend, which probably explains why even my three brothers had matching outfits. (Sorry about that boys, but you did. Why am I saying this when I know very well that my brothers don’t read this blog?)

Evidently, that practice sparked a sartorial debate among women. Some thought it diminished women, making them more infantile. (Remember, Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique had only been out for three years.) Maybe. But I can vouch for what it did for girls like me: made me feel more grown up, wowed by the fact that I was wearing something Mom wanted to wear.

And now we have a new iteration in mother-daughter dressing: mothers and their grown daughters wearing the same clothes. It’s a trend fueled by two things: 1) relaxed standards for what is “age-appropriate” for “older women” (Yay! I think.) and 2) the number of households where young adults from 18 to 30 are living with Mom and Dad.

As the saying goes, the family who stays together, shops together…or shall I say spends together. Presumably, mothers and daughter vie for the same wardrobe like sisters once did. It’s a significant enough trend that designers like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan are trying to cash in by making more interesting pieces that have longer lifespans than fast fashion currently offers. Double yay!

Shift fabric

I’ve been searching for a great summer shift pattern to sew for The $75 Summer Challenge. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I found one at The French Seam. What’s unfortunate about that? Well, my friends, technically that excursion disqualified me from my own $75 Summer Challenge. The fabrics were so irresistible that I couldn’t leave with just a $16.95 Kwik Sew pattern (K3598). No, I scooped up the four pieces of fabric shown above, thereby disqualifying myself by going way over the $75 limit. I know. It’s truly inspirational, isn’t it, seeing the person who set up the challenge fall off the wagon? I hope honesty counts for something here.

Now hear me out. I learned two important lessons I’d like to share:

1) There are alternatives to Simplicity, Vogue and McCall’s. If you like to sew and you’ve never used a Kwik Sew pattern, you must give them a try. The instructions are SO MUCH BETTER than any other brand I’ve used.

2) Buy good fabric. For years, I’ve been buying fabric at the big box store. Don’t make me mention them here. The Amy Butler fabric I purchased at The French Seam handled unlike anything I’ve worked with before. Exquisite. When you sew, consider spending more and get the good stuff. I also love the personal service you get there.

What about you? Did your mother ever dress you and your siblings in matching clothes? Do you and your mother (or daughter) ever wear the same clothes today?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.

The photo of the 1960s shift dress shown above was used by permission of Etsy Shop owner, My Sweetie Pie Pie.