An Expert's Guide to Finding a Fabulous Mother-of-the-Bride Outfit

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

Mother of the Bride Dresses and Outfits: @greceghanem

Photo:

@greceghanem

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

This reminds me of the sort of thing Kate Middleton would wear to attend Ascot, which is precisely the look I'd be going for as mother of the bride. 

With a built-in cape detail and glittering finish, this is a stunning option for black-tie nuptials. 

If you're not sold on florals, polka dots serve as another chic mother-of-the-bride print option. Look for spots with space between them, however, so as not to blur in the photographs. 

Satin is always a good idea, and works year-round depending on the colour you choose. 

This pretty open-back dress is so chic, and it also comes in classic navy and white. 

If this Norma Kamali dress is good enough for Carrie Bradshaw…

Needle & Thread dresses have the ability to make you feel so special. 

Chic Jackets

Excellent on its own or as part of the trouser suit. 

A breathtaking accompaniment to a simple block-colour dress. 

Longline coats look elegant worn with dresses or skirts of the same length underneath. 

Shoes to Spend All Day In

Block heels and ankle straps? I can tell you from experience that Loeffler Randall shoes are comfortable. 

Thank goodness kitten heels are back, just in time for wedding season. 

Platforms are more comfortable than you think, especially for dancing in. Don't disregard them. 

My rule? Keep heel heights 10 CM or under (unless a platform is involved like the above). 

Haute Headpieces 

Imagine these woven into an ethereal updo. 

If mesh and netting feels too extra for you. 

A simple padded headband is proving a popular alternative to fascinators. 

Stylish Separates

A colour-block suit will act as a canvas to more statement accessories. 

Again, I like the fuss-free silhouette of these trousers. 

Jewellery to Dazzle

Drop earrings and hair-up are the perfect pairing. 

Complement your manicured hand with a statement cocktail ring. 

Pearls are forever—not just for wedding days. 

A fun way to incorporate a different hue into your mother-of-the-bride look.

Love this? Just wait until you see the necklace version. 

Elegant Arm-Candy

Zara always creates pretty occasion bags on frugal budgets. 

This would look fabulous with a plain dress and gold jewellery. 

A bag that'll go with every mother-of-the-bride dress and outfit in my edit. 

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