Should You Dress Your Twins Alike?

Twin brothers dressed alike.

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In the mind of the general public, the image of twinship is based on physical similarity. Many people expect to see twins that bear a strong resemblance to each other, including their clothing selections. However, this can be a sensitive issue for parents of multiples. Should they dress their twins in similar or coordinating outfits? Or does it have a detrimental effect on their children's' development as individuals? Is dressing twins alike a "do" or a "don't"?

Certainly, no parent should force their multiples to dress alike if they don't want to, especially when the children are old enough to express their dislike about it. But babies and toddlers are another story, and it is the parents of those young twins and triplets who will undoubtedly grapple with this issue at some point. It's one of the dilemmas faced by parents of twins

Why Parents Dress Their Twins the Same

For one thing, it's just plain easier to dress young children alike; exhausted parents of twinfants don't have the mental capacity to choose two outfits – much less two outfits in the right size that are gender, temperature, activity, and style-appropriate for the day's events! Moreover, it's cute. It's fun. It celebrates their special relationship as twins. And it sure does make for nice pictures!

The Research

I haven't encountered specific research that indicates that dressing alike has produced any negative effect on twins. However many psychologists do recommend against it for parents that wish to emphasize individuality.

Researchers do acknowledge that the early years are an incredibly crucial time in the development of a child's cognitive skills. Opponents of dressing alike argue that it obscures a child's sense of self-identity even at a very young age.

Informal research that I've conducted – basically asking grown sets of twins how they felt about the issue – indicates that it's not really that big of a deal unless the twins were forced to dress alike once they were older. Either they don't remember, didn't mind, or were only mildly annoyed by their parents' choice to dress them alike as young children.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to the question of dressing alike. After the age of three or so, children can express their own opinion on the matter. They may prefer to dress alike, sharing the same taste in clothing or enjoying the symbolism of their unique status as twins. Or, they may wish to express their own individuality by creating their own style.

Until that time, parents should go with the option that feels most comfortable for them.

Other Options

  • Utilize coordinating outfits rather than matching: select the same outfit but in different colors.
  • Use matching outfits to commemorate special occasions or for photographs; dress children differently for everyday activities.
  • Be sure to dress children differently in situations where you want to be sure other people (i.e., teachers, babysitters, relatives) can tell them apart.
1 Source
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  1. MAL-ED Network Investigators . Early childhood cognitive development is affected by interactions among illness, diet, enteropathogens and the home environment: findings from the MAL-ED birth cohort studyBMJ Glob Health. 2018;3(4):e000752. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2018-000752

By Pamela Prindle Fierro
 Pamela Prindle Fierro is the author of several parenting books and the mother of twin girls.