I’m Too Old to Match With My Friends

And yet I keep giving in to the group dressing mentality

06.27.17

I hate matching my friends. They get mad when I bring this up. My friend Gabby, who I hate to match with, say it’s because I have classic “only child tendencies.” Others with whom I hate to match say it’s because I am “no fun at all anymore.” Both are true.

I was not always this way. In elementary school, twin day was my favorite “free dress” day. I also went through a phase wherein my dad bought two of everything so my since-we-were-in-diapers best friend, Annabel, and I could match.

In high school, my friends and I would buy the same accessories so we would stand out as one entity amidst a sea of dress code-enforced khakis and polos. In college, my friends and I matched by lazy default more than intent; everyone had the same black fleece, the same black leggings, the same Uggs. For every Halloween, there was a massive group theme. Costumes and gags remain my one matching exception to this day, but otherwise, at age 29, I can’t stand it.

Matching makes me feel like I am part of someone’s aunt’s 90th birthday party on a cruise ship, all of us wearing identical neon shirts for when our echo-location fails.

Matching makes me feel like I am in a city-based summer program for toddlers, hands grasped around a long rope as a safety measure.

Matching makes me feel like I am part of a corporate office retreat and everyone put the swag on to be ironic but also took it a little bit seriously.

Matching makes me feel like I am part of a friendly, low-fee, group-text-happy cult.

The only reason I partook in this picture is because I am a good sport and was drunk.

Did you know that the original point of matching bridesmaids — who originally also matched the betrothed woman in white — was to confuse evil spirits from attacking the bride? What with modern technology and Pharrell’s “Happy” as a universal wedding anthem, I hardly see how this is necessary any longer.

Matching is psychological Darwinism. When you’re younger, it shows that you are a part of the pack and protects you from being eaten alive (literally, figuratively). It also makes you feel like a piece of a collective sum that is large and loud. It’s the “good kind” of standing out. You intimidate, terrify or endear depending on what restaurant you’re in, the general demographic and how obnoxious you’re being. As you get older, matching is nostalgic, because, this is something we used to do as kids.

To be perfectly honest, it also makes for a great picture, and this is the Age of Content.

Red white and brosé 🇺🇸 @argiethree @ska26 @crhuber 📷 @bkgarner5 @jvtrentacoste

A post shared by Amelia Diamond (@amilli0naire) on

Because I’ve yet to evolve my emotions beyond “feeling left out,” I am still right there with the team, uniform starched and ready for when duty calls. I cringe and complain, whine and fuss. Yet when the camera clicks, I pose, matching sweatshirt on, teeth bared. I spent the entirety of Camp Man Repeller in my Camp MR polo, which no one told me I had to wear. I get really mad when someone buys the same thing I do and yet, I still feel the compulsion to document accidental twin days when they occur. Just this Friday, in the wake of a goodbye celebration, I texted my friends, “What should we wear?”

I suppose this discomfort is part of what entering adulthood means: attempting to discard that which no longer fits while mourning the carefree safety of youth’s uniform. I keep all my friendship clothes in a designated drawer: sweatshirts, tees, swimsuits, bachelorette gear, those pictured-above star-spangled shorts. I will absolutely “forget” to pack them if I catch wind that “everyone else is bringing theirs.” Still, as with friends, it’s nice to know they’re there.

Feature image by Edith Young. Flatforms designed and created by L. Michelle Reneau. Check out her Instagram @flatforms; flatforms are wearing Prada with a Steamline luggage stowaway and Dries Van Noten with a Prada carry-on.

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  • mapillski

    As a twin who fought tooth and nail for nonmatching outfits, I identify very deeply with this. Even as an adult, I will change clothes if I’m wearing something even remotely similar to a friend. Unless it’s all black, the only situation where matching is tolerable.

  • Hayley

    As an only child, I totally relate. I feel like wearing matching outfits takes away some level of independence. For the past several months, one of my male coworkers and I have been wearing the exact same gingham print on the same day every other week or so. I think he and I need to coordinate to not match. It drives us both a little mad.

  • Merrynell

    I feel ya, Amelia (I rhymed!)
    My friends: “Where’d you get those?”
    Me: “It’s cute, right?” And then changes topic.

  • Aydan

    there’s only one person I love to match with–my bf! she has such amazing style that I always feel like its a compliment when we are attracted to similar shoes, bags, or dresses! the best part is we both are so unique that even though we dress similar, no one else around us does–plus we’re a bi-coastal friendship! 🙂

  • Abby

    I honestly was not aware matching was even a thing past high school! Why are people giving you trouble?!

  • Abby

    matching is fun when you and your friends wear all black and walk around feeling like the hottest coven in town

    • Meg S

      I’m not opposed to this at all.

    • TinySoprano

      Haha my girlfriend does this too! I’m really not a monochrome person so she gets really excited when I wear head to toe black for her.

  • AC

    My husband of all people loves to match me. If we’re going to dinner, a wedding, church, you name it – he wants to match. I insist that instead of twinning, we “go together”. He’s adorable, but also a lot of work 😉

    • dietcokehead

      We do this a lot, never intentionally. He basically only wears jeans/graphic shirts, and I lean on that model pretty badly too … and we even have a few of the same shirts so sometimes one of us has to change. We also have almost-identical sneakers and black boots and then when you both just want to throw on a leather jacket … I dunno, we long ago fell into the “dog/owner” trap. I should really wear my dresses more.

  • Andrea Raymer

    Can confirm that Amelia did not change out of her camp polo. I think she may have even slept in it.

    I love matching. I can’t wait to have a daughter because we will certainly have a wardrobe full of mommy-daughter outfits (as I did as a child). My cousin (who is only 2 weeks younger than me) and I used to pull out our suitcases and coordinate our outfits for our entire vacation. Even now. my entire family of 35 people has matching family jerseys that we made up a numbering system for.

  • Meg S

    I make jokes when I accidentally wear the same colors and/or prints as someone else at work. We had a work retreat last week, and most of us ended up wearing our matching polo shirts and jeans. I think my best friend and I have some of the same clothes because we occasionally shop at the same store, but we try not to wear them at the same time.

    My parents did dress my sister and I in matching clothes when we were young, but that stopped after she outgrew baby/toddler clothes. It didn’t last long, we’re 5 years apart.

  • Kelly

    I really hate when you show up wearing something almost identical to a friend.
    Once a male friend picked me up and it took me 5 minutes into the car ride to realise we were wearing the exact same print and fabric but in reverse, ie gingham bottom and denim top and vice versa. he thought it was hilarious, I thought it looked like we escaped from a rodeo theme party.

  • Bia
  • C. Killion

    So many memories of school uniforms! Gaack! As soon as I could, I began sewing couturier for myself. Then people started asking me how I paid for it all, h’mmm? I used to say, I have a “poker” face.

  • I have never really experienced this. A few times a coworker and I showed up to work unintentionally wearing matching outfits (we had similar style) but we always laughed it off. Sometimes my boyfriend and I also unintentionally match, but I think it’s only happened a handful of times in almost 6 years and it’s always just similar colours so whatever.

  • cclln

    I inadvertantly match with my two year old twin daughters pretty often. They are never matching exactly, I usually buy two of everything, but different colors or prints. But I do always coordinate them, like have both in shorts and tanks, or both in dresses, for simplicity’s sake, it’s easier for me.
    And I’ve noticed that when they’re in stripes, I’m in stripes, or when they’re in sundresses, I’m in a sundress. I usually don’t see it until we’re out the door. I have also noticed, just out in public, that it’s pretty common with a lot of moms and daughters, although I don’t think it’s a conscious decision most of the time.

  • Olivia

    Agree with some other commenters – I had no idea this was a thing! I actually was thinking, “Come on Amelia, how often does this really happen???” Then you posted the photos, confirming it does, in fact, happen to you a lot. So strange!

  • Pterodactyl111

    Sometimes I see groups of girls who are all dressed to match (well, extremely coordinated as opposed to like, matching t-shirts) and I have always wondered how that happens. Do they plan it, or does it just happen?? Thanks for sharing some insight into this phenomenon that passed me over!

  • azrakun

    So I have this friend… I buy a designer item and after she sees it, she literally goes home and buys it in two different colors. No kidding… no spending limit in her budget… it’s just a mystery to me. What is the point here?