Mother of the Bride? Beware!

posted in: Style advice | 5

OK. Your son or daughter is engaged. The church or venue is booked and in the midst of the arrangements you start to think “OMG, whatever am I going to wear?” This post suggests that you avoid any outfit that is labelled as Mother of the Bride.

Mother of the Bride outfits  - pastel shades
MOTB – pastels

There are several reasons for this:

  • they have significant mark ups like all specific “wedding” items
  • the styling is dated and frumpy and will age you, eg mid calf length, last year’s colours, fusty fabrics like dupions, satin, lace overlays and gorgettes
  • the marketing of these outfits makes you feel you have no idea how to dress, and need a regulation outfit
  • they are over co-ordinated and make you look like someone else has dressed you
  • they are often fussy and uncomfortable, paired with a hat that you will never wear again
  • the fitted dress, dinky jacket, large brimmed hat, and corsage (corsage? why? wear a fresh flower if you want one) and bland footwear has become formulaic
Mother of the Bride outfit
MOTB overlarge bright florals

Although this model is unlikely to be anyone’s mother (yet) the outfit is just so obvious and matchy-matchy that it looks ridiculous, especially with the silly shoes. Does anyone really want to wear a big red stylised peony on their dress, hat and jacket? I love florals (and indeed wore them for both my children’s weddings) but they need to be combined with something lower key if they are to stand out in a good way.

Mother of the Bride outfit in blues
MoTB – co-ordinated blues

And once more in blues, turquoise and navy. The individual items might work separately, but not all together like a blooming Christmas tree. That is what all these “outfits” remind me of. Not a Christmas tree laden with things your kids made over the years, some vintage Seven Dwarfs fairy lights, plus last-minute tinsel from the market. Rather a Christmas tree “dressed” to co-ordinate with your dining room decor, or with 32 matching tartan bows, bought as a set from John Lewis. (Christmas, like a Weddings, are more about spending than sentiment).

We don’t get enough chances to really dress up, so push the boundaries and wear something special. But avoid the formula and be true to yourself. What you wear for your children’s wedding should, in my opinion, be

  • fashionable and in line with your personality type
  • full of love and sentiment – make your own outfit, do the flowers (or make the cake)
  • feature heirlooms and traditions – wear grandma’s brooch or a vintage jacket
  • comfortable so you can be useful on the day
  • beautiful, but remember you are a support act

Finally, weddings are a great opportunity for hat lovers. Everyone can wear a hat but the shape has to work well with your face and hair. I would avoid, at all costs, an overstated, expensive matching hat that you will never wear again. Consider buying a lovely vintage one, or making your own . Then find an outfit that supports the hat and works harmoniously with it. I dislike fascinators myself but think ephemeral flower crowns or slides are charming and it is not difficult to match fresh flowers with your outfit. My post on under and over-dressing may help.

I realise I need to reveal what I wore for my children’s weddings.

For George and Bianca’s I wore a pink and blue silk crepe dress from the Jigsaw sale, with an old (1980s) Karen Millen jacket I have had since then. I made a cornflower and pinks headdress rather than a hat., and a belt from grosgrain ribbon. I wore bare legs and grey suede courts (a bit MOTB to be honest), and a stunning Victorian brooch my father gave to my mother.  I also made floral  combs for my daughter and some of the Bianca’s family and friends.

Family wedding
Tearful Mother of the Groom

When Esme got married I wore a nice dress from Aquascutum (sample shop, now closed), and an old jacket from the Topshop sale, a glorious silver praying mantis brooch I got in New Zealand, a silver necklace my mother bought in Mexico and one of her belts from Next.

New Zealand brooch Kate Davies
New Zealand brooch

No hat at this event, although I made the ribbon flower embellishment on Esme’s dress, the Bride’s bouquet and crown of flowers, and buttonholes and floral ribbon flowers for the guests. Here is a better picture of my dress. It is very nicely made with excellent pattern matching, piping and a plaited border on the square neck.

Kate Davies as Mother of the Bride
MOTB – with a little attitude

Meet the parents (four sets – we are very modern!)

Esme and Shane's wedding
Esme and Shane’s wedding

5 Responses

  1. I love both of your outfits and can’t believe you made Esme’s flower embellishment. She looked beautiful. I also love florals, especially in the type of dresses you chose. And great jewellery!

    I am curious to see what my mother will wear for my brother’s wedding next year. She always chooses clothes that I wouldn’t choose – often quite bohemian – but she always looks great and very much herself. The wedding itself is going to be a reasonably casual affair as we will be touring Icelandic glaciers afterwards, so I am not sure how formal most people will be. My brother is a designer, and my other brother and his wife are artists, so I expect there to be some interesting outfits!

  2. What a great post. I haven’t given much thought to MOB other than why do women pick outfits that look so MOB and well, dated, awkward and cookie cutter. I love how you approached your own kid’s weddings, like a real person with a personality and purpose. Rather perfect I would say!

  3. This post had me thinking ‘how true!’ a dozen times. Loved seeing the pics of you, definitely the look to go for rather than matchy-matchy. I had a giggle thinking of what you must think of the Queen and her outfits with matching shoes, bags, hats….

  4. The silver mantis brooch is gorgeous!

  5. You all looks happy and comfortable…enjoying the moment – in your own uniquely personalized outfits.
    so fun to see, thanks for posting the wedding photographs.
    I love the print on both of your MOB dresses.

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