By David Derbyshire
Lookalikes: Carol Vorderman and daughter Katie at Epsom last month
It used to be teenage daughters who raided their mothers’ wardrobes for something to wear.
But these days, it seems it’s more likely to be the other way round.
A generation of mothers are treating their daughters as fashion role models, according to a study.
The ‘20-40 mums’ – an expression invented by teenage girls to describe women in their 40s who dress as though they are 20 – are so desperate to stay young that they follow their daughters’ leads on everything from make-up to hairstyles.
But it’s a one-way process, with the fashions and tastes of the older generation leaving youngsters cold.
The findings could help explain why celebrity mothers such as Carol Vorderman appear to be taking style tips from their offspring. The 50-year-old presenter and her daughter Katie, 19, showed off similar looks at the Epsom Derby last month.
The study of more than 300 mothers and daughters found that adolescent girls have a powerful influence on the make-up, clothes and hairstyles chosen by their mothers.
Spot the difference: Demi Moore, 48, and her daughter Tallulah, 17, look more like sisters
Cultural historians have long argued that the 1950s were a turning point when the younger generation actively rebelled against the tastes of their parents for the first time.
However, the phenomenon has now come full circle, with parents increasingly copying the younger generation, the study suggests.
Dr Ayalla Ruvio, from Temple University Fox School of Business, said the impact adolescents have on parents ‘is much more profound that has been credited to them’.
The researchers, whose findings appear in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour, questioned 343 mothers and daughters with an average age of 44 and 16 respectively.
They found that if a mother is young at heart, has high fashion awareness and views her daughter as a style expert, she will copy her daughter’s shopping habits.
But even if a daughter regards herself as older than she is and is interested in fashion, she is far less likely to see her mother as a role model.
Dr Ruvio said: ‘Our culture emphasises being young and so we see this reverse socialisation where parents mimic their kids. We had mothers who were 44, but who felt that they were 33 or 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.’
Copycat: Mother Janet Cunliffe, left, spent thousands of pounds to look like her daughter Jane
In 2009 it was reported that a mother had spent £10,000 on cosmetic procedures to look like her daughter, 22 years younger.
Janet Cunliffe, 50, said: 'It might sound barmy that I had cosmetic surgery to look like my daughter, but she's gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to look like her?
'The way I see it is that she got her looks from me in the first place - mine have just faded with age.
'Seeing how attractive Jane is made me want to get my looks back. Now instead of mum and daughter we look more like twins.'