Being a fashion editor comes in handy more than you'd think. I've helped friends and family assemble outfits for job interviews, only to be offered the job afterwards. Coincidence? I think not. I've sourced sold-out items on resale sites for those desperately seeking them, and I'm always happy to debate more significant investments. Above all else, however, my decade-long experience working in fashion is most valued by brides-to-be and their mothers when it comes to finding not the wedding dress, but the mother-of-the-bride dress.
I've been a bridesmaid a handful of times and a guest more often than I can count, and I'm almost always drafted in to help with the search for the perfect mother-of-the-bride outfit. After all, there's a lot to consider when it comes to finding the perfect wedding ensemble, and most are worried about looking like a cookie-butter MOTB. More often than not, they want to look cool and sophisticated, but not unlike themselves. This means that alongside hunting down the bride's dress, finding a beautiful mother-of-the-bride dress or outfit for the big day also takes time. It's a big day for them, too, and all the mothers of the bride I've spoken with just want that little reassurance that they're making the right outfit choice.
So, as well as selecting what I consider to be some very chic MOTB dresses and outfits below, I've also listed the style tips I share with any mother-of-the-bride who asks. Spoiler: If it makes you feel fabulous, wear it!
1. Don't Feel Bound By Tradition
By all means, if a jacquard shift dress and a matching cropped jacket are the items you're going to feel most yourself in, then that's absolutely what you should wear. If this, however, doesn't serve you, you shouldn't feel obliged to wear something that looks like you've picked it from the first page of the MOTB catalogue. Times have changed, and there are so many other options to consider (you'll find plenty of stylish examples below). So do not—I repeat, do not—feel like you need to dress a certain way on the day.
2. Compliment the Colour Scheme
If you don't already know the overarching colour scheme, ask. This might help you narrow down and/or eliminate any colours. Still, you don't need to match the rest of the bridal outfit perfectly—the goal is to compliment. You'll likely be in a lot of the photographs from the day, and sometimes it's only when you look back on them that you realise your outfit detracts from the rest of the aesthetic.
In fact, I know one mother of the bride who asked the photographer to alter the colour of her dress to better blend with the rest of the outfits. If in doubt, I opt for soft, powdery or neutral shades work well—think the likes of camel, sage, cornflower, and blush. They always look more expensive on the day than candy-coloured pastel shades. If bolder colours are on the agenda, these can become clashy very quickly. If the hue in question is, say, green, I'd go for something that compliments it on the colour wheel—shades like blue, purple, and pink would be my suggestion in that instance.
3. Consider Your Fabrics Carefully
Linen and cotton might be light and airy to wear, making them popular fabric options for weddings held in the summer months, but they're also prone to wrinkling. As we touched on above, you're going to be in a lot of the photographs from the day, and while creases might not bother you in the moment—you're probably too busy soaking in the day to notice!—a crumpled outfit is the last thing you want to look back on and frame for your hallway. If you're unsure how a fabric will hold up, I advise sitting in it for a couple of minutes and standing up a few times, too. If, when you stand, deep creases are already visible, you might want to switch to a different fabric.
4. If You Don't Like Hats, Don't Wear One
Hats are one of the most divisive accessories out there, and I've met many mothers of the bride who were internally debating whether to wear one or not. Again, if the only reason you think you should wear a hat is because you think it's the "done thing" for a MOTB, don't. The same goes for fascinators. On the other hand, you like the idea of the drama and glamour that wearing a hat can bestow your outfit with, then go for it.
5. Tap Into Your Usual Style
Although dresses are always appealing—they're what I like to call a one-and-go outfit that requires minimal effort—they're not the only MOTB outfit option at your disposal. If you prefer trousers, why not consider a chic suit or jumpsuit instead of a dress? If you live in jeans and what to embrace the opportunity to wear a fancy dress for a day, then relish in it! But know there's more to mother-of-the-bride outfits than dresses. And that's before we even consider accessories…
Now you should have a better idea of what your dream mother-of-the-bride dress or outfit looks like, scroll on to see my edit of the most stylish pieces for mothers of the brides below.
Shop Truly Beautiful Dresses
Shoes to Spend All Day In
Jewellery to Dazzle