Why I steal my daughter's clothes
More women in their 40s are taking the fashion lead from their daughters, writes Deirdre Reynolds
'You're not going out in that!" -- the diktat traditionally issued by scandalised mums to scantily clad daughters down through the years.
Now though, it's Gen Y girls who could be left urging their mums to cover up for a night on the tiles.
In the past, twenty-something girls were infamous for raiding their mums' wardrobes for something to wear.
But according to a new study, these days it's the other way around -- with mums in their 40s and beyond guilty of stealing the style of daughters half their age.
Dubbed 'the 20-40 effect', it explains why celebrity glam mams such as Demi Moore, Madonna and Carol Vorderman have become virtually indistinguishable from their offspring on the red carpet.
If the Fifties was the decade when teens first rebelled against their parents' tastes, today it seems the trend has come full circle, with kids influencing what their folks wear instead.
"Our culture emphasises being young and so we see this reverse socialisation where parents mimic their kids," explains Dr Ayalla Ruvio, one of the boffins behind the study which appears in Journal of Consumer Behaviour.
"We had mothers who were 44, but who felt that they were 34. They feel younger and they are compelled to project that through their consumption behaviour."
"But they don't have time to go and work out what was cool or hip because they have busy lives and jobs, so they take a short cut and mimic their daughters."
Sure enough, although Carole Middleton (54) has won praise for her dress sense, her sartorial similarity to daughters Kate (29) and Pippa (27) is impossible to ignore.
In 2005, the Duchess of Cambridge and her mum turned up at an equestrian event in near-identical blue jeans, knee-high boots and earth-toned tops. While ahead of the royal wedding, the Middleton matriarch and younger daughter Pippa were snapped on a shopping trip wearing matching navy jackets, patterned dresses and black boots.
If the latest findings are to be believed, however, it's the future queen and her sister who've inspired their trendy mum's look -- not vice versa.
Quizzing 343 mums and daughters with an average age of 44 and 16 respectively, the study discovered that the former take their cue from the latter on everything from makeup to clothes and hairstyles.
Undeniably, foxy 50-year-old Carol Vorderman is well able to give daughter Katie (19) a run for her money in the style stakes -- as shown when the 'wardrobe twins' attended the Epsom Derby in complementary white outfits recently.
And actress Susan Sarandon (64) still looks every bit as sexy and stylish as her double-take daughter Eva Amurri, almost four decades her junior at 26.
But in light of the study, dare we ask: what ever happened to that old idiom about 'Mutton dressed as lamb'?
"Fifty is the new 40," says stylist Tanya Grimson. "More and more glamorous older ladies are proving that style doesn't have to fade with age.
"But on the flipside, you have these women who refuse to accept they're ageing and think they can wear the same clothes forever.
"Raiding your daughter's wardrobe only shows you're so insecure that you feel the need to wipe out the entire generation separating you."
With high-street stores casting their net wider than ever before, however, age-appropriate dressing has never been more difficult for both mums and daughters.
"In the past, there was a clear demarcation between fashion stores for older and younger women," says Tanya.
"But as boutique fashion for over-50s tends to be overpriced, women have no choice but to shop in the same high street stores as their daughters such as Oasis and Coast."
"Our customers range from 20 to 60-plus," adds Deborah Ruddy of Chic Unique in Ratoath in Co Meath. "We get lots of mums and daughters coming in to shop together or recommending the store to one another.
'As a result, we carry brands that work across the ages such as Twenty8Twelve, Anoushka G and InWear. Often, we'll get both yummy mummies and style-savvy twenty-somethings buying different items from the same label."
Whatever about stepping out in the same denims or LBD as your daughter, stylist Tanya Grimson urges mums to leave unforgiving micro-trends to those born after 1990. "Women over a certain age should definitely leave certain fashion items to their daughters and nieces," she says.
"Hotpants, sequin body-con mini dresses, PVC leggings and playsuits are a definite no-no!"