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.
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.