What shall we wear today?
The cult of mini-me has morphed into something more stylish. Naomi Reilly meets four mums who've nailed 'twinning'
Bianca and daughter Ren, four, have got coordination down to a tee
Ren and I often indulge in 'twinning' our wardrobes, from black Nike Roshe trainers to leather leggings and topknots. I think it's natural that I model Ren's look on colours and styles I like. I'm inspired by Instagram and Pinterest, and by style bloggers such as Alexis Foreman of Style Memos and Alex Stedman of The Frugality.
We dress for comfort and style as I don't feel the two are mutually exclusive, and I'll buy Ren anything I'd wear myself. We both have too many grey sweaters, black joggers and trainers. But I'm more adventurous with Ren's clothes than with my own. She has all her life to conform so the big bird coat one parent described as 'an emu or an ostrich' is staying!
I love co-ordinating our looks. Usually it's quite subtle – we might just wear the same colours – but some days I'll just go for it, and the expression on Ren's face when she realises that we're 'twinning' is priceless. The response we get is always hugely positive and I think most people take it in the spirit that it's intended – light-hearted fun.
We have matching coats, denim jumpsuits and yellow Salt-Water sandals. Over Christmas we wore our matching monochrome pyjamas from The Bright Company. At end-of-season sales I buy Ren's next size up and stash things in a suitcase that I add to over the year. I'm good at bargain-hunting – once I bought her a parka in Gap for £5.
I hope Ren continues to enjoy fashion because, let's be honest, who doesn't like to play dress-up? Even when, like me, you're 36 years old.
Bianca is co-founder of Kishnubbly
Mother and son Kirsti and Sonny-Love, three, reckon you can never have enough leopard print
People always say they can easily tell which child is mine. Our neighbour said she couldn't tell where Sonny-Love ended and I began because of our similar looks. I loved that!
Living by the sea in Brighton is reflected in our styles. We spend a lot of time at the beach so if it's uncomfortable or not functional, it won't be worn. Our style is a mix of Nineties street, Seventies glam and utilitarian. We wear prints galore – bright for me and monochrome for Sonny-Love – and we love slogan tees and sweaters. Denim is big – we must have about 30 pairs of jeans between us.
Sonny-Love is not mad on coats that are too tight around the wrists. Apart from that he tends to love what I love, and he's a massive fan of animal prints. This is a dream for me because I'm a firm believer that you can never have enough leopard print.
One of my favourite memories is from New York two years ago. There was a snowstorm so I wore my leopard-print coat and Sonny-Love had on a matching snowsuit from Mini Rodini. People were stopping us in the street to take our photo – we made so many friends. Then there was the time at Sonny-Love's first birthday party when he and his dad wore Breton tops and I was in a spotty dress. I was really happy with that spots and stripes combo.
Sonny-Love thinks it's great when we look the same but there are some things I'd never dress him in, like leather trousers – I'm really into them at the moment but I wouldn't put him in a pair, I know my boundaries. His dad may disagree, though – he calls us Rod Stewart Junior and Senior.
Kirsti owns Kirsti International Talent Agency
Nicola and her children Felix, eight, Cissy, five and Cassius, 15 months, like to mix and match
My trick is only to fill their wardrobes with things I like, so I know whatever they pick to wear will be acceptable. I go for classic styles in a simple colour palette for all of us. We don't have bright colours and lots of clashing patterns – everything co-ordinates.
Having my boutique means I get to see the designer collections in advance, so I'm planning what we'll be wearing in six months' time. For inspiration I look at magazines like Milk and La Petite, and sign up to mailing lists from my favourite stores Weekday, & Other Stories, Cos and Acne Studios.
Leopard-print leggings are a wardrobe staple for us all. I think leopard is a neutral and goes with everything. Cissy and I are also often in matching faux fur coats and have the same trainers. I actually don't really like trainers that much, but I bought these so we could get the same. I love that Cassius's feet are now big enough for him to wear a tiny pair.
People usually say our co-ordinating looks are cool – we get comments all the time and tourists have taken photos of us. I'm sure some think it's naff, but if something's a great design, why shouldn't we all wear it? It's not even a conscious thing all the time. On the school run parents will say, 'Oh look at you all in your black and white,' but I haven't realised.
Some people (usually the older generation) can't understand how I can put kids in black, but I don't see why not. People tell me their kids look like walking jumble sales, and I think, that's because you've dressed them in all-over prints in all the colours. Bright pink floral leggings are fine – but not with a bright purple patterned top. Better to take it back a notch.
Nicola owns the kids' boutique Cissy Wears
Mum Emi and her daughter Silver, two, have lots of fun turning heads with their showstopping style
Silver and I emulate each other a lot. My phone's full of screen grabs of adult looks I like – I just adapt them and find similar for her. Silver proudly struts around saying, 'I'm just like mummy!' I fully accept this won't last for long and that one day I'll be nothing but an embarrassment to her, so for now I'm milking it!
I never put Silver in traditional kids' clothes. I like her to wear more fun and unusual stuff. My favourite thing in her wardrobe is her floor-length green silk dress with guitars all over from Bobo Choses. Her dad's a musician so we're suckers for anything with a guitar on.
Sometimes I'll double up on our clothes without realising. I bought Silver a bright pink mohair jumper from River Island recently and when I got home I found an identical one I'd bought for myself a few years ago.
Our best fashion moment was last year at Glastonbury. We wore matching leopard-print outfits with giant bows in our hair. I also really like our vintage dungarees – we wear them all the time. We get lovely reactions whenever we dress alike. Older people often stop us and say we look great. I'm teaching Silver to accept a compliment gracefully rather than shouting back, 'It's my coat, you can't have it!'
I hope I'm teaching Silver to be brave with fashion. As a teenager I used to make my own clothes and went though some horrendous stages, including a Goth phase. But it was fun. I hope Silver also experiments with fashion and isn't afraid to go against the crowd.
Emi co-owns events company Madlife
Photography: Helen Marsden