Belfast Telegraph

The mums and daughters who raid each other’s wardrobes... just like the Duchess of Cambridge and Carole

They share the same genes ... and sometimes share the same jeans. By Kerry McKittrick

When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out to make her first public address as patron of a children's hospice charity this week, as usual all eyes were on what she was wearing.

And what a surprise! While Kate Middleton’s thrifty love of the high street is well-known, few would have reckoned she was actually sharing favourite clothes with her mum, Carole Middleton. It emerged the Duchess (30) had bought the elegant blue dress in 2008 in chain store Reiss and her glam 57-year-old mum had previously worn it to Ascot in 2010.

Still, is it that usual for mums and daughters to swop outfits? And what are the perils of doing so?

Here, we meet some stylish duos not averse to sneaking a peek in each other's wardrobes.

Catherine and Rachel

Catherine Bradley (45) is the manager of the Ivory restaurant in Belfast. She lives in the city with husband Patrick and has a son, Patrick (17) and daughter, Rachel (27). She says:

“I love fashion and I used to be a fashion buyer in Derry. Shopping has become a hobby for me and Rachel — it's something we do together. We both love clothes and have a similar style but Rachel is a bit more classic than me. I prefer to make more of a statement.

We share clothes all the time and I’m not picky about it. We were going to a family birthday party and I had bought two dresses to choose from. Rachel couldn’t decide what to wear so she wore the one I didn’t.

Once I wore an All Saints dress and styled it with a big scarf. I went into a high end fashion shop and one of the assistants raved about my ‘Vivienne Westwood' dress. I didn't even tell him that it wasn't!

Of course, there are some things Rachel wears that I wouldn't and vice versa but I think it's an age thing because I don't want to wear clothes that are too young or Rachel to wear clothes that make her look older. I think Kate looks fantastic and it was very confident of her to wear the same dress as her mum. You can really see that the pair of them wear a mix of high street and designer and enjoy doing it. It's all about mixing and matching.”

Rachel Bradley (27) is a marketing account manager. She lives in Belfast with her fiance Enda and daughter Isabella (seven months). She says:

“Mum and I actually shop with each other in mind. We have very similar tastes and shapes and the only thing that ever really makes a difference is the age-gap. Most of the time it's dresses and jackets we swap but it can be just about anything.

We have an understanding that our wardrobes are open to each other. We can always tell if one of us has been in there though!

The only real disaster I had was when I got first wear of a white dress mum bought. It was a sundress and after I’d worn it I washed and ironed it, but it wasn't supposed to be ironed. It took all of the character out of the dress and it looked terrible after that.

We both wear a mixture of high street and designer labels although I tend to be the one who goes for labels more. Mum is the one who keeps an eye on what's in the magazines and often manages to find the high street version of a designer piece which is very handy. She has a background in retail so she's very good at putting things together.

I think both Kate and her mum looked good in that blue dress although I am surprised that Kate chose to wear it to such a public occasion — everyone's eyes are on her at the moment so it was bound to be noticed. Kate has excellent style, though, and really sets a good standard by wearing high street clothes. Everything she wears is good quality and that's just as good as buying designer.”

Anne and Sasha

Anne Jordan (43, right) is the owner of Please Don’t Tell boutique on Belfast’s Lisburn Road and lives in Belfast with husband Chris and her children, Sasha (17), Jonny (13) and Elisa (11). She says:

“I'm almost scared to leave the house in case Sasha goes though my wardrobe! It started a few years ago when she began borrowing my shoes. She's grown out of those now but she's always in my wardrobe and I always know when she's been there because the light will be on and there will be sequins from the jacket she's taken all over the floor.

The trick is to figure out what she's taken — I really wouldn't mind if only she asked.

To be honest, I tend to hoard clothes and keep them far too long — sometimes the wardrobe will be overflowing. Most of the time I don't mind if Sasha borrows the high street clothes, but I do try and make sure she doesn't borrow clothes that have come from the shop without asking, as they can be rather more expensive.

Also, I do give clothes to Sasha — they're mostly things like sequinned jackets that I don't wear very often.

As soon as Sasha starts to look after her clothes then I'll start investing in her more and buying better brands. She recently borrowed a black All Saints dress to go out to the MTV Awards and spilt something on it — I don't know what it was. She tried to cover her tracks by putting it in the washing machine. As it was a wool blend it came out the size of a hankie!

I like what Sasha wears — I think she dresses for her age, and goes for lots of layers and skinny coloured jeans.

To be fair, as long as she doesn't look cheap, I don’t really mind what she wears.

I think the Duchess of Cambridge is trying to be frugal by recycling clothes and sharing key pieces with her mum — it's appropriate in a time of austerity because it wouldn't look good for her to squander money. However, although it's a nice idea, I’m not sure that it's necessary. We all want to see what she wears so wearing the same clothes again and again might not be the best idea.

I have to say I think that her style is nice but at times it may be a bit old for her. Still, she has probably been advised to dress modestly.”

Sasha Jordan (17, left) is still at school.She says:

“I borrow mum's clothes all the time. We have a similar style and she really knows how to dress. I tend to go for her clothes when I'm going out and,no, I don't always ask permission first. At times, though, I do ask her to dress me because I can't figure out what to wear.

Mostly I borrow jackets and jeans. She has some dresses that are really nice but they wouldn't look right on me and I would actually look like I was dressing up in my mum's clothes.

Occasionally mum borrows clothes from me, too, but more often we'll get something to share. We'll be shopping and see a jacket that we both like — it will spend time in both our wardrobes.

It's great that Kate can borrow her mum's clothes too but I'm not sure why she does — it's not like she can't afford to buy her own clothes. She doesn't need to spend a fortune to look great so she can get away with things from the high street.”

Noelle and Victoria

Noelle Rea (53) is the owner of Natoria boutique in Larne. She lives with her husband Bertie and they have two daughters, Natasha (25) and Victoria (27). Noelle says:

“Both of my girls borrow clothes and they often do it without telling me. I'll be getting ready to go out for dinner and will have planned what to wear. Then I'll go to put on a pair of shoes but they will have been ‘borrowed'.

Victoria is the biggest culprit and I always know if she's been in my wardrobe. If she borrows something from me I just don't get it back unless I go looking for it — I have to sneak up to her wardrobe when I go to her house.

I think Victoria and I have the same sense of style and we both know what suits us. For me it's about the hemlines. I wear them longer, but I encourage Victoria to wear her hemlines shorter because I think that that looks younger and better on her.

It was interesting to see the Duchess of Cambridge and her mum wearing the same hemline, but I think they're the same height so that probably works for both of them.

Kate is a wonderful ambassador for high-end high street clothes which are accessible to everyone. They're well made and not ridiculously expensive so anyone can buy them.

I do think you can get better wear out of clothes if you share them. If I buy a very nice dress for a family wedding or something there won't be very many occasions to wear it. However, if Victoria's going to a wedding where no one knows me then she can wear it then. That makes sense as you can spend £200-£300 on a nice dress so it's good to get the value out of it.”

Victoria Lucas (27) is co-owner of Natoria in Larne with her mum Noelle. She lives in Broughshane with her husband Adam and baby son Zach. She says:

“I do borrow mum's clothes all the time — everything from jackets and dresses to bags and shoes. I think mum has really good style and is great at wearing classic dresses with a modern twist.

If it's something very good like an expensive dress for a wedding then I will ask before I borrow it. The things I borrow do tend to be a bit on the expensive side, though, because mum has a lot of clothes that she has bought from our shop.

Both the Duchess of Cambridge and her mum looked great in that dress. It's great for the Duchess to wear clothes like that. I think it makes her more approachable and it's more appropriate in the current climate.

Kate's style is lovely but it's a bit sedate. I think she could be a bit more edgy. Her clothes tend to be to the knee, wrist and neck but I suppose that's what is expected of a royal.

I have had one fashion disaster after rummaging in mum’s wardrobe. I borrowed a very nice silk dress that had come from the shop — it cost more than £200. It was floor-length and I was wearing it to a wedding and, of course, I managed to put my heel through the hem right in the middle of the dress. What was a floor-length dress is now knee-length!”

dos and don’ts to borrowing

  • Do ask before you borrow — it’s only fair so someone knows what has been borrowed from them.
  • Don’t forget to take care of the item. Try to avoid spillages and damage and if they do happen offer to replace or reimburse.
  • Do return the item cleaned and pressed — it’s not fair to land the other person with |the laundry bills.
  • Don’t borrow clothes that don’t fit you — split seams and broken zips are not a good look.
  • Do check the label. If it says dry clean only then dry | clean only.

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