Shopping for a wedding outfit can be tricky at the best of times. Finding something that feels true to your personal style is often a challenge when you are dressed to the nines, and that’s before you’ve factored in the ever-changing British weather.
Everyone wants to look and feel their best for a celebration as important as a wedding – after all, there will be plenty of photos to record the event. If you are the mother of the bride, or, indeed, mother of the groom, you will no doubt feel even more pressure to strike the right balance with your occasionwear.
In fact, although you’d assume the bride would spend the longest time seeking out her big-day outfit, you’d be wrong. A survey by Simply Be found that mothers of the bride actually take longer to plan and buy their outfits than the actual brides themselves! Mothers of the bride or groom spend on average 18 days to arrange their outfit for the big day, compared to only 12 days for the bride on her quest for a dream gown.
With so many things to think about ahead of the wedding, we are sharing some simple steps you can take to make outfit shopping less stressful. Make sure you are not part of the 87% who count their outfit as the most stressful part of wedding planning. That’s right! Despite all the organisation, prep and family feuds, a staggering 87% of mothers claimed their biggest concern was their outfit.
Read on to discover the secret to getting mother of the bride dresses right, plus some answers to some common FAQs.
Take your cues from the bride, the venue and the type of ceremony
Once upon a time, the mother of the bride was expected to wear matronly styles. Thankfully, those days are now behind us. However, the freedom to wear whatever you like as you watch your daughter tie the knot does comes with its own set of complexities.
For example, what length of dress is appropriate; is it acceptable to wear short dresses to your daughter's wedding? Should you even wear a dress at all, or opt for a chic trouser suit, instead? Are hats de rigeur or passé?
Then, on top of all those queries, you need to ensure your outfit is both unique and in keeping with the rest of the ceremony's look and feel. Simply Be’s research found that over half of families of brides and grooms liaise with each other over outfit plans to ensure nobody turns up in the same outfit.
So, where to begin? Our advice is to start with the colour. As a key member of the wedding party, your outfit should ideally fit in with the wedding party’s overarching theme. Speak to your daughter about the bridesmaids and what colour scheme she has chosen. Even better, see if you can get a swatch of the fabric to take with you when you shop for your own outfit. It will be an excellent starting point when searching for a harmonising hue.
If your daughter has gone for individual bridesmaids dresses, the same rules apply: simply stick with the general colour palette and find a deeper or complementary shade when choosing your own dress or suit.
For more advice on the best colours to wear as a mother of the bride, have a look at this article. In which we break down the most complimentary colours to each other, for different hair and skin tones, and much more.
Make sure you also take the weather and religious customs into account when finding your outfit. From traditional church marriages to more bohemian affairs on beaches or fields, pretty much anything goes these days. Just keep the venue in mind when planning your wedding outfit.
For example, a strapless dress may not be appropriate for a traditional church wedding, but would be totally in-keeping for a mother of the bride to wear to a free-spirited beach ceremony. Likewise, the simple addition of a jacket or wrap could be all you need to make the dress look and feel more chapel-appropriate. If you find a style you love, but are concerned it’s not quite appropriate for the venue, there are some quick fixes. Play around with jackets, boleros, wraps and jewellery. All of these things can alter the overall look of the outfit and make it fit the bill. For more on mother of the bride accessorizing, this article has some great advice.
When it comes to modern weddings we know that there can seem like an endless list of dress codes and venue options, from the traditional white tie country house, to the more imaginative. If you want to see a break down of what all these different titles really mean, and some ideas of what to wear to them, click here.
Which are the best styles for mother of the bride dresses?
When it comes to mother of the bride dresses UK, there seems to be such an array to choose from its almost overwhelming. From the traditional floor-length cocktail dress to the options of a trouser suit, a playful tea dress, or even a skirt and top.
So what is the best way narrow down the search for mother of the bride dresses?
Well, the answer to this question really isn’t as simple as some might hope. As we explained earlier, there are many things to consider when it comes to mother of the bride dresses, from venue to dress code.
Along with making sure your outfit fits your role as hostess, it is also important that you wear something that flatters your body type and makes you feel your most comfortable. A great way of achieving this is by focusing on which styles best suit your body type. For example, those of an hourglass figure might opt for a mother of the bride tea style dress. Those with pear-shaped figures might prefer an a-line dress, as the cut works to de-emphasize the hips while creating curves on top.
We don’t quite have the time to break down the all of the different style options for mother of the bride dresses here (don’t worry we have two dedicated articles on the topic, click here for the first and here for the second). But, we wanted to include a little information to remind mothers of the bride out there, not only to focus on the needs to the dress to suit the wedding but themselves too.
How to find mother of the bride dresses with jackets that match
Whether you wear it or not, the likelihood is that you’ll need a jacket to match your dress. If your son or daughter is getting married in the UK, the inclement weather makes having a jacket to go with your dress a crucial part of outfit planning.
Matching your jacket precisely to your dress is no longer the most fashionable approach. Instead, current trends allow you to have a lot of fun with your cover-up options. Why not try a printed jacket with a plain dress? Or, for a bohemian wedding, a statement embroidered jacket would really fit with the theme. A colourful, embroidered style would look amazing worn over a simple linen dress.
For traditional church weddings, you can update the now tired-looking matching duo with a new spin. Why not embody some Parisian chic via a well-cut, collarless tweed jacket? There are plenty on the high-street. Try department stores such as Debenhams or John Lewis, or consider The White Company, LK Bennett or IRO, which is available at Net-a-Porter. Updated features, such as asymmetric zips or metal hardware, add an edgier finish.
Where to buy mother of the bride evening dresses with stretch
You are going to be in your outfit from 8-'til-late. You'll be running around before the guests arrive, wearing it through the service, the meal and then to dance in later. Therefore, comfort is absolutely crucial. If you don't feel comfortable, you won't feel confident. And, for most of us, if comfort is high on the agenda, that means finding a dress with plenty of stretch.
Although a less traditional choice for a mother of the bride dresses. Stretch fabrics have been said to have 'revolutionised fashion’ since they were first used by Calvin Klien in the 1990s. Since becoming a representation for the principle of a stylish modern woman.
The reason this particular have has been said to have had the effect of revolutionising fashion is because of its silhouette enhancing qualities. Donna Karen describes how ‘stretch clothes provide control to the body, smoothing out bumps the way girdles used to do.’
Not only does a quality stretch fabric garment give the support and smoothing qualities of a corset or the more modern Spanx, but is said to do all this while being highly comfortable. This is the reason the fabric has stayed so popular. As Karen continues to describe ‘we can fit clothes more snugly so women can move as freely as if they had nothing on’.
Apart from the figure-flattering, comfortable, aspects, another reason for a stretch fabric dress is perfect for the mother of the bride is due to its non-creasing aspects. A quality stretch fabric dress won’t wrinkle, meaning, it will stay looking stunning from ceremony to reception, to the dance floor.
At Diva, we have a large selection of stretch-jersey dresses on offer. For a floral theme, our Manderley Contour Stretch Print Dress is a fabulous option. Not only does the contoured fit hug your figure, but the cinched waist and subtle frill detail around the stomach combine with the stretch fabric to provide ample coverage - even post-dinner.
Likewise, the clever seaming and ruching through the body means our elegant, 50s-inspired Mariposa t Dress ticks all the boxes. It’s available in over ten different colours, making it an excellent option - whatever the colour scheme of the wedding may be. The luxurious moss-crepe fabric provides just the right amount of structure and stretch to skim your natural shape for a ‘your-figure-but-better’ fit. The result? A figure-skimming style that hugs and streamlines for a fit that moves with you throughout the day.
Again, department stores are other great options to guarantee you find something that fits the bill. With such a wide range of colours, shapes and styles catered to, you’re bound to find a dress with stretch which also comes in the appropriate colour. Just be prepared to spend several hours looking and have a specific shape and shade in mind you can suggest to sales assistants to speed up the process.
When should mother of the bride dresses long be worn?
When it comes to what length a mother of the bride dress should be, there is a lot of traditional etiquette expectation out there. Some say the length of the dress should match the time of day and its activities.
For example, for a celebration in the day time, a dress suit or cocktail dress that goes to the knee is suggested. Whereas, for a cocktail reception, a knee-length cocktail dress or maybe longer dress are the best choices. For a formal evening wedding, women are expected to wear floor-length dresses of a more formal fabric, such as satin.
Really, when it comes to mother of the bride dresses UK in 2020, we think that these ‘rules’ seem pretty outdated. Not only are these type of opinions less common in popular consciousness, but they also hark back to a time when the variety of dresses on offer were much slimmer.
The current fashion climate offers such an array of different styles, coming in numerous style, fabric and colour options. Meaning, that no longer will a floor-length dress only come in a formal fabric. So, if you are a mother of the bride who is playing with the idea of a maxi dress, you don’t need to feel as prohibited by the venue and dress code.
To view this dress click here
A well-fitting mother of the bride dresses long can be a really great option, likely too long, appropriate, elegant and ultra occasion worthy.
However, if you are concerned about finding the best mother of the bride dresses long for the celebration, there are a few things you can focus on to make sure it is as suitable as possible.
First, be aware of the types of detail and embellishments that decorate the style. If your daughter is holding a day time wedding, then a less structured fabric, with softer, detailing is recommended. Such as a soft gathered or pleated style. Whereas, for an evening wedding, sequin or beading can add a beautiful touch of sparkle.
To view this dress click here
When it comes to mother of the bride dresses petite, it is worth paying particular attention to the length. Just because you have a petite frame, this should not be seen as a reason to avoid the long mother of the bride dresses. In fact, the style can be really flattering, especially when it comes to designs of one colour. Creating one long column of colour which works to elongate the body.
However, for those searching for petite mother of the bride dresses that are also maxi, it is worth paying particular attention to the proportions they give your body, to ensure the most flattering fit.
In addition, avoiding an overly loud print is a great way to make sure the style does not give the illusion of making a petite frame even smaller. It is also suggested that you leave enough time to get the dress altered if needed. You are likely to be thankful for having a floor-length dress taken up a few inches rather than leaving it to be tripped overall evening.
Is it acceptable to wear short mother of the bride dresses to your daughter's wedding?
Although matronly ideas of mother of the bride outfits are, thankfully, gone, they have left behind a slightly outdated set of expectations concerning how a bride or groom’s mother will present themselves. As a result, many women still worry that a shorter dress will be frowned upon.
The good news is that midi dresses are a huge trend this year, so it’s easier than ever to stay covered-up and fashionable. What’s more, there is a cut out there to flatter every single figure. Wrap dresses are a fabulous choice for both slimmer and curvier frames, as they emphasise your slimmest part. The self-tie at the waist allows you to customise the fit almost as if it were tailored to you. Opt for a chiffon, viscose or silk option to ensure it doesn’t cling to you. Some French labels are crafting beautiful options at the moment. Consider Sezane or Maje for effortless elegance. Alternatively, try a style from & Other Stories, which is cut particularly well for taller frames.
If you prefer a more traditional style of midi dress, then consider a simple empire-line dress or fit-and-flare dress, falling just below the knee. This 50s-style silhouette is timelessly elegant, and there are many styles to search for that will show some personality - whether that’s a bold print or a Bardot neckline. Our Empire Rose Swing Dress is excellent if you’re tall, as the bold print is a real statement that taller frames can pull off exquisitely.
The Ogle Floral Jacquard Dress is also stunning, featuring a painterly hibiscus print and a conservative but contemporary higher neckline. Lace is also a lovely choice to consider. Why not try the Kendall Lace Dress, with its lace-insert neckline and cuffs? It’s also an excellent choice if you prefer to keep your upper arms covered up.
Maybe your legs are your best asset and you would usually opt for a shorter style in your day-to-day looks? Likewise, if you are petite, you may find that a shorter dress suits you better than a longer one.
We discussed earlier how staying true to your personal style is the goal with occasionwear, so, ultimately, it is completely up to you if you want to wear a mini dress, midi dress or a maxi dress. If you feel confident and comfortable in a shorter-length dress, then wear it.
Looking good is all about confidence. We hold ourselves differently, stand taller and have more presence when we like our outfit. Feeling confident in a shorter dress is a far better option than selecting a longer dress that just doesn’t feel ‘you’.
Choosing to wear something that you feel great in empowers confidence in appearance and is likely to make you appear much more elegant. Coco Channel, arguably one of history’s most elegant women, held this opinion. On being asked to describe elegance she said: ‘elegance is an essence, a feeling, a way of life… elegance is refusal’.
It is the refusal to wear a garment that makes you feel anything less than beautiful. So, if you are concerned about wearing a less conventional mother of the bride dress, just remember the words of Channel. Looking elegant and feeling beautiful is more appropriate than any traditional mother of the bride outfit.
A general rule of thumb to bear in mind with each outfit you consider is this: is it elegant, understated, and appropriate? If you can say yes to all three and you feel great about yourself when you slip it on, wear it.
Are mother of the bride trouser suits falling out of fashion for the big day?
Of course, a dress isn’t the only option as mother of the bride. Trouser suits are definitely a viable option, and may be your preferred choice if your regular style is less geared towards feminine dresses.
Co-ords and trouser suits have enjoyed a real resurgence on the catwalks in previous seasons. There are lots of fantastic styles on offer – from high-end to high-street – so you have plenty of inspiration available.
The trend of trouser suits is set to continue in popularity well into 2020. In our latest article on what to wear as a wedding guest, we looked into this further. Observing the growing presence of suits on catwalks, especially for Spring Summer 2020.
Another real benefit to this mother of the bride outfit choice is that you can wear both pieces again. Embrace the trend for dressing down tailored trousers with white trainers for relaxed day-to-day style. Get plenty of wardrobe mileage out of the jacket by styling it with jeans and a top. Similarly, restyling your suit for work with a simple white T-shirt underneath it will provide even more ways to rework it into your existing wardrobe.
Although there is a strong trend for very bold colours in women’s suiting at the moment, unless the bride’s colour scheme is unusually bright and vibrant, err on the side of caution with your colour choice. From pearlescent pinks to pale powder blues, there are some beautiful pastel hues around which lend themselves perfectly to wedding-day hues. Just team with a neutral black or white camisole beneath it for a look that is contemporary and elegant.
Short suits also make an unusual choice for the mother of the bride, if you want to go for something a little different. If you would consider a shorter dress, then a co-ordinating short suit will create a striking look. Wear it with a simple camisole underneath it, then team with wedges or sandals. Look for a pair with a block heel to ensure you stay comfortable.
What about Plus Size Mother of the Bride Dresses?
As if searching for mother of the bride dresses is not stressful enough on its own. Unfortunately, many plus size mother of the brides encounter an additional complication when hunting for their perfect outfit.
We have found far too many articles both online and in magazines that give a barrage of ‘helpful advice’ and rules as to which style of dress is flattering to which body type, and what types of dresses should be avoided at all costs.
When it comes to plus size mother of the bride dresses, or really plus size fashion for that matter, we think that this type of advice is not only unhelpful but rather counterproductive. Not only does it presume that all plus size women have the same views on their bodies, wishing to hide or highlight the same areas but also limits the options available into a small and uninteresting batch.
When it comes to mother of the bride dresses plus size we implore you to ignore these outdated opinions on who should wear what. The best advice we have found, that really works for people of any shape and size, is to make sure whatever you wear it in a size that really fits you, to ensure you feel most comfortable and look most complimented.
With so much out there, we don’t quite have the time to debunk every ridiculous myth related to mother of the bride dresses plus size. If you want to read more on this, in addition to discovering some really great mother of the bride outfit options, check out this article, completely decided the topic.
When to start looking for your mother of the bride outfit
According to bridal experts, the mother of the bride should start searching for a dress no later than three months prior to the wedding. This way, it not only alleviates stress by knowing there’s one less thing to think about, but also allows time for special orders or alterations.
It’s also worth noting that it is tradition for the mother of the bride to purchase her dress first, then share her choice with the mother of the groom. The two certainly don’t need to match, but the groom’s mother should take her formality cue from the mother of the bride. Just as significant members of the ceremony should wear outfits to complement each other, the mothers of the bride and groom should try to make choices that work well together so that the bride stands out. The same goes for length – if the mother of the bride’s hemline is long, ideally the mother of the groom should follow suit.
So, in summary, there are plenty of style shortcuts you can take to make searching for your mother of the bride dress (or trouser suit) a more enjoyable and stress-free affair. Take your cues from the colour scheme, venue and bridal party. Play to your strengths and wear something similar to what you’d usually feel most comfortable in. Look for a dress with a flattering fit-and-flare cut, or opt for stretch to ensure you stay comfortable from bridal procession to end-of-the-night wedding toast. For something a little different, consider a trouser suit in a pastel hue which will complement the rest of the wedding party and the colour scheme.
And, finally, communicate your choice to the mother of the groom so the two of you can stylishly support your son and daughter on the biggest day of their lives.