Rise of the copycat couples: Matching coat Check. Same shirt Check. Why ARE so many couples dressing alike
My husband Simon arranged to meet me at a friend’s party recently, after we had spent the day apart.
I left the house in black trousers, a white shirt, a grey tailored jacket and a bright silk scarf, to add a lively splash of colour.
But when I spotted Simon, 45, at the party, I was horrified. It wasn’t that he was badly dressed — he looked great. But he was wearing black trousers, a white shirt, a grey tailored jacket and a colourful silk scarf.
Double take: David and Victoria in jacket and jeans (left) and Kate Winslet with new man Ned RocknRoll
Undoubtedly, everyone assumed we’d done it on purpose to demonstrate what an adorable, Barbie-and-Ken-style couple we were. How mortifying.
But, in reality, it’s simply that after 15 years together, our fashion taste has merged as seamlessly as our iTunes playlists and love of cookery shows.
And seemingly, it’s not just we who have perfected his ’n’ hers fashion — by accident or design. Lately, any number of celebrities seem to have looked at their partner and, like King Louie in The Jungle Book, exclaimed: ‘I wanna be like you!’
Hence, Kate Winslet and Ned RocknRoll were recently snapped in excruciating matching outfits — battered jeans, boots, black tops, grey jackets and sunglasses — making them more like a cruet set than a couple.
Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez out for a stroll (left) Kate Moss and Jamie Hince, so cool in blue
Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman both go for the androgynous look – to match their husbands
And Jennifer Aniston has long been mocked for her ability to replicate the style of her current man — most recently, she’s been channelling boyfriend Justin Theroux’s ‘downtown grunge’, with shabby-chic knitwear, ripped jeans and T-shirts.
Then there’s Nicole Kidman, seen with husband Keith Urban in black suits. And top brands are increasingly tapping into the idea of ‘matching’ — possibly because selling the same image to both partners painlessly doubles profits.
Cool French label The Kooples advertises its unisex look with ‘real-life’ couples dressed in complementary tweed, skinny jeans and brogues, while Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Versace and D&G regularly feature couples dressed in his ’n’ hers versions of the latest collections to promote their luxury brands.
So perhaps it’s no wonder style-conscious couples are increasingly using each other as their must-have accessory. But are they simply demonstrating their exquisite shared taste — or is this ‘mirroring’ highlighting more about the relationship than they realise
I started to wear tailored suits just
like his, from Jaeger and Aquascutum, with crisp blouses. We looked like
a couple of politicians…
While Kate Moss and Jamie Hince manage to look cool and androgynous (and, yes, a little grubby) in their skinny jeans, ankle boots and shrunken blazers, there’s something a little unsettling about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s looky-likey off-duty style of jeans, sweaters and tan suede jackets — possibly because one senses an imbalance of power between them.
‘When couples dress similarly, it’s often because one of them has less confidence than the other,’ says Harley Street psychotherapist Christine Elvin. ‘They fall into a copycat look which excuses them from finding their own identity.’
This is all too familiar to Laura Grover, 36, a hotel manager from Leeds.
‘It’s embarrassing, but when I was with my ex-husband, I gradually started to dress like him,’ she recalls. ‘I was only 24 when we met and he was ten years older, and very corporate. I started to wear tailored suits just like his, from Jaeger and Aquascutum, with crisp blouses. We looked like a couple of politicians.’
It wasn’t that her ex put obvious pressure on her, she says, ‘but I knew what he liked and I suppose I wanted to please him, by being a female version of him’.
While it’s quite common to find teens embarking on their first relationship copying a loved one’s look, ‘when an adult changes their style overnight, it’s a worrying indication that there’s an imbalance or insecurity in the relationship,’ says Christine Elvin.
Copy coats: Ricky Gervais and long-time partner Jane Fallon sport matching jackets and shoes
Twin sets: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (left) Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, 23 years his junior
This is often most noticeable when one partner is much younger, or significantly less famous — think of Harrison Ford and Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart, 23 years his junior, who went overnight from red-carpet glamour to the dressed down denim-and-baseball-cap look favoured by her ageing husband, or Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones (25 years younger) in their matching pastel golf-wear.
This scenario is instantly recognisable to Alison Fielden, 40, an optician from South London. ‘When my ex started dating a younger woman, I couldn’t believe it when I first saw them together,’ she says. ‘They were both dressed in faded jeans, leather jackets and baseball caps — they even had the same sunglasses. I was embarrassed for him, he was clearly trying to seem like a cool, young guy, rather than a divorced dad of three.’
Christine Elvin agrees. ‘There is often an element of “proving” to the world that you’re a well-matched couple,’ she says. ‘Couple dressing is your personal PR, announcing: “We’re so similar and well suited, we even dress the same!” ’
That’s certainly true of people in the public eye, who are often desperate to prove to the world’s press that they’re not about to break up. Whenever the David and Victoria Beckham attract negative headlines, their next move is usually a staged photoshoot in matching outfits which shout ‘we’re so in tune’, whether it’s Chanel ski-wear after the Rebecca Loos affair claims, or ‘casual happy family’ jeans and tees after a Victoria’s Miserable In LA headline.
First, people tend to pick out partners who are similar to themselves, so they may dress alike to start with
But, of course, there is a less
troubling explanation when it comes to dress-alike couples — simple
shared taste. ‘There are perfectly good reasons why dressing alike might
happen,’ says relationship expert Dr Gian Gonzaga, director of research
at dating website eHarmony.
‘First, people tend to pick out partners who are similar to themselves, so they may dress alike to start with. And, over time, couples tend to become more similar in their interests and activities — plus couples often buy each other clothes, which means their fashions will converge.’ That was certainly the case for me and my husband.
When we met, neither of us had much money, but we shared a love of vintage clothes and would happily spend hours rummaging in charity shops looking for sparkly brooches and faux fur jackets (me) and Mad Men ties and paisley scarves (him). While we certainly never dressed in matching outfits, we would often find ourselves in similar things.
It was a bit embarrassing, but ultimately more amusing than worrying. Like any shared hobby, our love of retro fashion brought us closer. But as Christine Elvin warns: ‘If you do find yourselves always looking like Tweedledee and Tweedledum, it’s worth asking, are you trying to prove your closeness to the world or yourself’
Confident couples don’t need to slavishly copy each other, and while celebrities may be aware dressing alike can ensure headlines, the rest of us tend to be horrified if we inadvertently choose ‘matchy’ clothes.
‘Most of us have come downstairs to find our partner wearing the same colour —– and normally, one or the other runs back up to change,’ she says. ‘If you don’t, it can be assumed you want to be noticed.’
Presenting yourselves as an attractive, well-matched couple is desirable — but looking like a sibling act on Britain’s Got Talent isn’t quite so cool.