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If We Hang Out Long Enough, We’ll Start Dressing Like Each Other

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Have you ever gone to work or a party or heck, even on a date… and noticed you are matching with everyone else?

It used to happen all the time when I worked in an office. See below, Taylor (from Shut Up I Love That) and I sat next to each other for a year and a half. Sometimes we’d match, like above and sometimes the whole team would even match (although we didn’t photograph that). Once, a friend of mine came to work wearing the exact same outfit as I… same shirt mint green shirt and black pencil skirt.

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We didn’t plan it.

It’s not just the office or with women for that matter… my husband and I often times have to make sure we’re not matchy-matchy with each other (and now with the baby, I unconsciously dress him in similar outfits to us).  A few weeks ago my husband and I met a friend of his for a walk with our kids. My husband’s friend showed up wearing a v-neck heather grey tee-shirt and dark wash jeans cuffed on the bottom. Exactly what my husband was wearing. We just made joke about it and moved on. Although I felt strange being the lady hanging out with two tall German guys wearing the exact same thing.

Most of the time, we shrug this off as a fluke. After all, it’s not possible that the whole world experiences this phenomena of people showing up to work wearing the same thing. Or is it? After a few women at a New York PR firm noticed how there were a lot of unintentional matching days in the office, founded the tumblr,  Did you get the memo? :

Oh my god, I have that exact same H&M burgundy cable knit sweater.

So what gives? How does this phenomenon of matching happen in an office? In an age where the masses have bigger wardrobes than at any point in history, how do we still end up wearing matching outfits?

Mirroring?

A study on office politics and sartorial cohesion noted that two thirds bosses often noticed when an employee mirrored their style. What’s more, that the employees who mirrored their bosses style were more likely to garner favorable attention. People want to feel like they belong.

“People feel safer when they dress alike,” says Dr Karen Pine, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, “They are signaling their need to belong to the group. A team that chooses the same style of dress for work is indicating their cohesiveness, which may reflect a wider collaborative culture.”

I quite remember this when I moved to Nolita and realized that my San Francisco wardrobe would no longer suffice from the streets where models and designers actually walked.  Apparently you don’t need to have an actual uniform to signify that you belong to a group. From our teenage years, remember dressing to fit into certain cliques? Whether it be the cheerleaders, the goths, the artists, etc… each have their own sartorial language, and even within that, each individual group has their own unwritten rules, and subconsciously, we’ll mirror the other group members to feel like we belong.

Similar shopping habits?

Even though I work from home, the group of women I meet up with (normally other moms with similar job types and schedules). One thing is clear, we do share our shopping habits. When I was in an office, many times similar paychecks/budgets/geographic proximity to the same stores, and of course those sneaky long lunches would inevitably end up in cultivating a similar wardrobe with your office mates.

 …of course those sneaky long lunches would inevitably end up in cultivating a similar wardrobe with your office mates.

Trends?

Bloggers aren’t the only ones who all buy into the same trends. If you’re in a particular industry that follows fashion trends, you might find yourself all getting excited about, say the fringe bag of the season. Or if you’re not so much into trends, but that season, say all that’s at H&M and Zara is that color burgundy, or those nautical stripes everyone has, chances are even if you don’t pal around on shopping trips, you might well end up with similar wardrobes anyway.

Psychic Phenomena?

If Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, could formulate calculus independently and simultaneously, why not something smaller, like, independently deciding to wear leopard print?

OK… although it would be cool to finally prove that we’re all a little bit connected, there is phenomena called Multiple Independent Discovery. In the science field, there have been examples of scientists making similar discoveries, simultaneously and independent of one another, for example, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz  formulated calculus independently of each other (and in different countries at that) around the same time. Similar occurrences have happened throughout history, (like evolution) so if that could happen with something as big as calculus, why not something smaller, like, independently deciding to wear leopard print on a Thursday?

Coincidence?

I might be overthinking this. (surprise, surprise) It could just all be a coincidence.

 

[Image credits: Vogue UK, Did You Get the Memo, Beverly Hills 90210]
jennineIf We Hang Out Long Enough, We’ll Start Dressing Like Each Other

Comments 9

  1. Lisa

    I don’t know how it happens. My sister and I, however, will show up for events dressed pretty close to identically, without any discussion at all.

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  2. Briana

    Great post! During an internship, my office (men and women alike) often shared a laugh over our similar outfits of the day. I enjoyed reading this. Your posts often make me think about things on a deeper level. I love getting that in my blog feed.

    p.s. The Psychology Today article. Also a very good share (although I don’t think twinship and mirroring are behaviors only executed by girls). I thought of myself as a stylish person in college. Looking back I remember putting so much emphasis into creating an “indie” look, because it gave me a feeling of unity with the friend circle I was in. It’s funny how in teen years we put a lot of intention into the way we dress, to fit in; and as adults we do it subconsciously.

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      jennine

      It’s so funny that we don’t try to see exactly why that happens. Sure, it’s a funny coincidence, but if it happens everywhere… does that mean something bigger might be happening? Just a thought! Anyway, soooo glad you like my crazy posts. Sometimes it’s hard to put myself out there. Thank you.

  3. Francesca

    I echo what Briana is saying about your posts being thought-provoking, that is why I am glad you are back with baby in tow!
    The Mirroring &Trends effect were almost the norm when I was working in fashion. Mirroring the designer by wearing the latest trends it was not only fun as I have been lucky enough to work with Raf Simmons for Jil Sander, Oscar de la Renta or Tomas Maier, but an insanely healthy girly competition.
    Now my full time job is in healthcare. I know right? Average corporate black viscose pant suits and patent pleather pump come to mind.
    Point is, coincidences don’t happen, there’s no neuronal connection that would manifest into wearing similar looks. There are no shopping habits shared nor water cooler conversation points in common. Good thing I breathe, read, live, read fashion consistently to bring sanity back.
    I am being dramatic and too Italian, just to say that my experience is the exception to the rule.
    On another note, I adore when you and your baby end up dressed alike. On weekends my teen ager daughter and I end up wearing similar patterns, colors or outfits and that brings back the fun.

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  5. Erika

    Best Beloved and his best mate frequently wear the same clothes. Well, jeans are a given, but they’ve each got 30 years worth of car show t-shirts. Which is a lot. And yet, they can turn up in exactly the same t-shirt more times than I care to think about. It’s uncanny.

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