In the opening flash of a Tide commercial, a camera slowly pans as a teen daughter walks into the kitchen and asks her mom: "Mom, did you borrow my green shirt?" Mom is seen flashing back to the time when she did, in fact wear her daughter's shirt and got a stain on it. But she answers her daughter by evading the question. She replies: "Not really my style, honey."
It may just be a commercial, but a new study from Temple University in Pennsylvania indicates that moms are raiding their teens' closets in record numbers. The study's authors say that teen daughters are more likely to influence their mom's sense of style than the other way around. In fact, researchers found, teens resist wearing anything that even remotely reflects their mom's sense of style. Moms, on the other hand, tend to feel younger than their age when they get decked out in zebra motifs and skinny jeans. The study of almost 35 mom-daughter pairs (in the age group of 44 for the mothers and 16 for the daughters) found that if a mother feels young at heart, is fashion conscious, and views her daughter as a style expert, she will tend to copy her daughter's consumption behavior.
"Mimicking her daughter is like a shortcut to what is hip and cool," says study researcher Ayalla Ruvio, a professor of marketing at Temple University.
MuuMuus and "mom jeans," parodied so hilariously on Saturday Night Live, may be falling out of favor among the middle-aged set, but as more moms dip into their daughter's closets for snakeskin print tank tops, teens are growing leery. I know, I have two, and while they covet every camisole and pair of high heels in my closet, they would be horrified if I pulled a Dina Lohan and borrowed their clothes and makeup, or dyed my hair blonde. (Somehow at the same time, they would die of embarrassment if I opened the door clad in mom jeans or a house coat.)
Circle of Moms member Laura K. agrees with my daughters that middle-aged women who dress like they are 16 are "scary." As she puts it, "The tight tank tops and low rise jeans on a mom with 'baby belly syndrome' and 'muffin top' spilling out all over the place just looks trashy to me. Same with skinny jeans, which are often low rise as well. When worn by someone who is not stick skinny they just look like an over stuffed sausage about to break."
So where should a mom turn for her fashion sense? According to the researchers, anywhere but her daughter's closet.
"The one thing the girls do not like is to look like their mothers," Ruvio said. "They're trying very, very hard to establish a separate, distinct image of who they are, and then the mother goes out and mimics them."
I personally have no intention of parading around in my daughters' clothes to proclaim my everlasting youth. I know from first-hand experience that even though my girls have an irrational fear of dressing like a mom, they still often make their way into my closet to borrow a pair of shoes, or into the cabinet in my bathroom to use my makeup. And how many times have I jumped into the shower only to find my favorite shampoo and conditioner plucked from their perch and moved to the "teen" bathroom?
So, while I get that my daughters would cringe if I headed out in one of their sundresses, I also want them to remember that every time they "borrow" shoes from my closet, they are risking being portrayed on an upcoming Saturday Night Live sketch about "Mommy Dearest Fashions."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.