Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do you and your mother bond over shopping trips?

Mom and I drove nearly an hour away in Christmas-time traffic to go to one of our favorite stores – H&M. (We also made a pit-stop at our other favorite store, New York & Company, and, of course, a bookstore.)

This is what it’s usually like when we go clothes shopping: we start out browsing the same area of the store together, pointing out different cool or quirky styles. Then we start to wander off at different paces but in the same general direction. We’ll start to pull clothes from the racks and then look around to find each other to get an opinion on colors – I’m best in browns and reds, and mom’s better in yellows and pinks. We both can pull off many shades of blue. If it’s a good day, we’ll each take an arm load of clothes into the fitting room. We’ll knock on each other’s fitting room door if we want to show off an outfit that looks great on us, but it’s more likely that we’ll knock on each other’s door to show off and/or laugh about the disastrous clothes that looked much better on the shelves (ahem, those skinny-leg jeans). When we’re finished with our bundles, we may have 2-3 items each left in our hands. We usually end up having the same clothes but in different colors.

It doesn’t have to be Christmas time for us to go shopping together because the trip isn’t just about the purchasing of material goods. Minahan and Huddleston (2008) conducted a study to learn why mothers and daughters shop together and what these duos value in the experience. Their study found, unsurprisingly, that the majority of mothers and daughters shop together to foster their special mother-daughter bonds. Minahan and Huddleston (2008) wrote, “The relationships provided a wealth of memories for both women as they recall the myriad of experiences that they share in the shopping centre. The experiences can be hilarious, sad, quirky, poignant, revealing of many of the multidimensional nature of the mother and daughter relationship.”

Some mothers teach their daughters how to shop at ages as young as three and four, or daughters just “absorb knowledge of shopping through passive observation of the mother’s approach to the store and to choice and the shopping experience” (Minahan & Huddleston, 2008). Minahan and Huddleston (2008) also wrote, “Whilst mothers are known to teach their daughters to shop, daughters also influence their mothers, in a process called “reciprocal socialization””, which is when a daughter coaches her mother on brand and style choices.

To Mom: I as a child and pre-teen, I remember that I hated to shop and I wasn’t interested in clothes…any idea when, why or how this changed? What's it like to shop with me?  What was it like to shop with your mom?

To other mothers/daughters: Do you and your mom/daughter use shopping as a bonding experience? How do you shop together? What is your shopping experience like? Do you have favorite stores that you’ll go out of your way to visit? Do you and your mom/daughter wear the same clothes?


Laurie (Anne's mom) said...

It took you a long time to find your sense of style. You never bought clothes because they were the “in” thing. You carefully calculated what other clothes you had at home that would be useful with the new garment. I think when you left home to finish high school at Mercersburg you began to feel good in your tailored, comfortable clothes. The choices you made were very good ones. I think you got an idea of what your body type was and went from there. (Hopefully, that is something I taught you.) I love shopping with you. You keep me grounded and focused on the task at hand. It’s fun to finally find something that fits AND wears well.

My mom and I never went clothes shopping. Mom made all my clothes through high school. She would ask me about the style pictured on patterns and we would go from there with choosing material. Ultimately it was her choice though, because she knew how to work with different fabrics.

Anne Greenawalt said...

I remember in middle school, when I was 12 in 7th grade, you let me get those silver pleather pants and then those bright green pants from The Express. I was so quiet in school and I was trying to assert myself through my clothes. A couple girls started wearing those types of pants after I did. I’ve always appreciated how patient you were/are when we go shopping and I take awhile to decide what I want. Also, I appreciated that you let me pick out and wear clothes that you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for me to wear. I definitely learned from you to pick out clothes by considering my body type first – it was easier to do this with you trying on clothes beside me and having you give your honest opinions of how clothes looked on me. I think these interactions we had while shopping have contributed to my positive body image (which, apparently, many girls/women do not have).

Unknown said...

i love my mother, but i really don't like to go shopping with her - i think mostly because i don't like to go shopping in general. i shop when i have a specific need, and i get what i need and then go about my day. she is a browser. if she has not made physical contact with every article of clothing on the rack she is not ready to move on.

Anne Greenawalt said...

Hi Crystal,
Thanks for your comment! It can be frustrating shopping with people that don't share the same shopping style. The study I read said that many women have the same shopping style as their mothers because they've learned to shop by observing their mothers. But obviously this isn't always true and mothers/daughters can be very different!