Finding the best mother of the bride outfits is no mean feat. It may be your daughter’s big day but you deserve to look and feel your best too.
It's common for guests to take time to plan what to wear to a wedding, but for those involved in the bridal party itself - the task is an extra important one. As one of the most special guests in attendance, you’ll want to find an outfit that is both flattering and stylish as well as being comfortable enough to wear all day long. Then of course there's the matter of wedding traditions that you might wish to adhere to too.
“Whilst there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to mother of the bride outfits, there are a few factors to consider such as venue, time of year and the colour palette of the bridal party,” explains Antonia Kraskowski, contributing fashion editor at The Wedding Edition. Looking for some outfit inspo? Here’s everything you need to know when on the hunt for the best mother of the bride outfits.
Best mother of the bride outfits
1. Take lead from the bride
It’s likely the bride will have already chosen her gown by the time you’re shopping for yours and this will certainly help you navigate the aesthetics of the wedding. You don’t have to match the bridal party as traditions would suggest but it might be worth considering how your look compliments the colours so they don’t clash in the wedding pictures. “It’s nice to compliment the bridal party but there’s nothing to say you can’t wear something bold and bright”, explains an occasion-wear buyer for Phase Eight.
Next Volume Sleeve Midi Dress | RRP: £48 | Sizes: 6-22
This pink hue will complement most wedding color palettes. With a flattering v-neckline and flowy skirt, it’s easy-to-wear whilst the oversized sleeves add a dramatic finish. Team with metallic silver shoes and bag.
2. Embrace the theme
Take inspiration from your surroundings. A spring wedding in the countryside calls for ditsy florals and pastel hues whilst a contemporary ceremony in a fancy city hotel requires chic monochrome and cool colour blocking. When it comes to this year’s wedding trends, Phase Eight’s occasion-wear buyer says, “we’re seeing lots of beautiful open floral laces and printed laces along with lovely floral dresses including leaf prints and big blooms.”
Mango Flower Print Dress | £69.99 | Sizes: 6-14
This bold bloom dress will work well for an autumnal wedding thanks to the long sleeves, maxi length and warm burgundy hue. We love the green and purple accents for added colour - these can be brought out with a green bag or shoes. The flowy fabric keeps it light and relaxed.
3. Wear a floaty dress
Being a mother of the bride comes heaps of responsibility and no doubt you’ll be running around the morning of the wedding lending a helping hand to the bride and her bridesmaids. With this in mind, you’ll want a dress that’s comfortable and not too restricting. Weddings involve a lot of sitting up and down so look to materials that don’t easily crease and those that allow plenty of movement with a tiered or a-line skirt. “If you’re opting for a dress for the day, it’s best to err on the side of tradition and modesty – hemlines that hit below or around the knee such as midi lengths are a chic option for the big day,” says Antonia.
Oasis Floral Woven Mix Cut Out Midi Dress | RRP: £45 | Sizes: XS-XL
The puff sleeves add a dose of drama to this sweet midi dress. In a classic navy floral print it features cut out detailing on the back for a modern touch and a high neckline to keep it modest.
4. Stay classic with a shift
When all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a classic shift dress. Forever elegant and smart, a shift dress with its non-restricting silhouette flatters in all the right places. “A shift dress will make a worthy addition to your capsule wardrobe as they’re super easy to dress up or down so you’ll get plenty of wear from it. Look for luxe fabrics such as silk and lace if you want to keep it on the dressier side,” says Paula Moore, fashion director at woman&home.
Polka dots are a timeless classic we’ll never tire off. This flattering silhouette skims your body and features a ruffle hem for a playful finish that makes it easy to move around in. Finish with some black barely-there sandals.
5. Try some tailoring
It’s not just about dresses of course and if frocks aren’t your thing nothing is more chic than a sharp two-piece suit. The epitome of modern day tailoring, look for bright hues and pretty prints to render it wedding-ready. “Any outfit goes! We have some great mother of the bride jumpsuits including lace bodices and pleated wide leg trousers. We also have a range of occasion-wear suits which are perfect for a mother of the bride. It is important to wear what you feel most comfortable in,” explains an occasion-wear buyer at Phase Eight.
Wallis Green Satin Belted Suit Jacket | RRP: £130 | Sizes: 8-20
If you’re planning a winter wedding outfit, look for plush fabrics such as velvet for a luxurious finish. The blazer has a built-in belt to accentuate your waist and the wide-leg trousers will help lengthen your legs too.
6. Mix it up in a jumpsuit
Jumpsuits have certainly worked their way into the mainstream and they are an acceptable alternative to a dress whilst remaining practical too. “When it comes to comfort, a jumpsuit really excels. Look for tailored silhouettes and relaxed trousers that highlight the waist to keep it on the smart side. The high street is brimming full of options whether you want a chic pastel all-in-one or a romantic floral print,” says Paula. Once the wedding is over, you’ll be able to dress your jumpsuit down with some trainers at the weekend too.
Dorothy Perkins Petite Multi Ditsy Ruffle Jumpsuit | RRP: £45 | Sizes: 4-18
The ditsy floral print on this jumpsuit really packs a punch. Minimal styling is needed to just wear with some simple court shoes and a white or soft pink clutch. The ruffle detail on the neckline adds a feminine flourish.
7. Add layers
We all know how unpredictable the British weather can be so even weddings in the height of summer may require a light jacket. Churches can be chilly and many places of worship also require shoulders to be covered so it’s always worth bringing a smart cover-up just in case. Blazers are a style staple and always look polished or try a coordinating occasion jacket for a pulled-together look. “Avoid anything too casual such as a denim or quilted jacket. In the winter you can opt for a faux fur jacket or stole which will add a glamorous Hollywood vibe to your outfit,” says Paula.
Phase Eight Devon Occasion Jacket | RRP: £99 | Sizes: 6-26
Considered detailing such as the single scallop hem give this occasion jacket a high-end finish. The cropped silhouette helps to highlight the waist and the open front design doesn’t compromise your outfit.
8. Inject your own personal style
With no set rules, there’s plenty of room to add a dose of personality to your look. This could be a sparkly shoe, a vibrant print or a chandelier earring, whatever makes you feel your best. “Don’t be tempted to go for an entirely new look, this is not the time to experiment – if you’re most comfortable in trousers, suddenly wearing a dress could leave you feeling awkward. If this is the case, there are plenty of chic alternative options – why not try a tailored trouser suit or a fashion forward jumpsuit as an alternative to traditional dresses,” says Antonia. The only rule you do need to follow is to not upstage the bride.
9. Think about longevity
Spend wisely and you’ll be able to wear your outfit more than once. Look for pieces that are easy to dress up and down such as jumpsuits and midi dresses and stick to more muted tones so they are less distinguishable second time round. “Two-piece suits and silky co-ords are also smart choices as you’ll be able to mix and match with your wardrobe basics once the wedding is over,” explains Paula.
M&S Belted Short Sleeve Wide Leg Jumpsuit | RRP: £89 | Sizes: 6-24
Ooze understated elegance in this lilac jumpsuit. Its pared-back design makes it easy to dress up - just add some delicate jewellery and a sparkly heel and swap for flats at the weekend. The wrap neckline is universally flattering on the bust.
10. Consider the fabric
Natural fabrics such as cotton and linen will keep you cool in the summer whilst lace and broderie details add a romantic touch to your outfit. Silk and satin are unapologetically luxurious so a good choice for a formal wedding or if there’s a black tie dress code. Avoid fabrics such as jersey which may be too casual.
Chi Chi Clothing Short Sleeve Lace Midi Dress in Pink | RRP: £98 | Sizes: 6-16
Lace frocks are just made for weddings and this ticks all the boxes. The pink hue is bound to complement most colour schemes. Featuring a flirty peplum hem and modern puff sleeves, put this on and the compliments will come rolling in.
11. Swap notes with the mother of the groom
“There’s no obligation to discuss dress ideas with the mother of the groom but it’s good etiquette to at least check your dresses won’t be clashing, or exactly the same,” explains Paula. Remember there will be lots of pictures together so it’s a good idea to try and coordinate your look. Traditionally, the mother of the bride will buy her outfit first - no later than three months before the big day - and then share the choice with the mother of the groom.
12. Don’t forget accessories!
Whether you want to jazz up your look with a statement earring or add a pop of colour with a bold clutch, accessories can really help to elevate your look and when it comes to weddings, hats can also play an integral part. “A wedding is a formal occasion so traditionally hats are typically worn, particularly if the ceremony is held in a place of religious worship. However, with the rise in popularity of outdoor weddings and more relaxed rituals, hats are no longer strictly necessary,” says Antonia. “If the Mother of the Bride still wants to wear a headpiece, take a style tip from The Duchess of Cambridge and opt for a chic statement headband, small disc hat or fascinator instead.”
Coast Organza Bow and Feather Fascinator | RRP: £69
A chic alternative to a hat but just as effective, this classic disc fascinator will up the ante on your wedding look. The navy hue makes it easy to style with most colours schemes, and the simple hairband fastening ensures it stays put.
Orelia Pearl Drop Molten Huggie Hoop Earrings | RRP: £28
Pearls are always an elegant choice and these 18k gold plated earrings will add a subtle finish to your wedding look. Perfect if you’ve got a statement dress or jumpsuit and need something glitzy to top it off.
13. Keep shoes comfy
Whether you’re running errands on the day or hitting that dance floor, chances are you’re going to be on your feet 90% of the time so investing in some comfortable shoes is key. Try a low block heel that won’t sink into any grass or a stylish wedge. “Even if you’re comfortable walking in stiletto heels, they can be a bit of a nightmare if you’re having to stand on grass during the reception. Play it safe in a block heel,” says Paula.
New Look Wide Fit Gold Metallic Twist Strap Block Heel Sandals | RRP: £23.99
The gold metallic finish keeps these sandals looking fancy and the block sandals and soft lining ensures all-day comfort too. They are also approved by The Vegan Society and come in a wide fit.
What is the most popular colour for mother of the bride dresses?
The most popular colour for mother of the bride dresses tends to be a blue or soft pink. “Traditionally popular colours for mother of the bride outfits are pink or blue – both colours are universally flattering for all skin tones, making them a failsafe choice when it comes to looking and feeling good on the day,” explains Antonia. Antique rose is the best-selling colour at Phase Eight, followed by eau de nil which is a soft green/blue colour.
What length of dress should the mother of the bride wear?
It’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for a length just below the knee. Midi length dresses are flattering on everyone or you could go full-length if it is more of a formal affair. “Maxi dresses have also gained in popularity in recent years – no longer just an option for formal black tie events - summer wedding guests are opting for longer lengths to keep cool in the heat without compromising on style,” says Antonia.
What should you not wear as mother of the bride?
It’s your big day too so you should avoid anything too casual such as denim and sportswear. “For a formal occasion such as a wedding, it’s best to dress up – particularly as in your role as mother of the bride and a host of the big day, you will be on display for much of the day. For one day, it’s time to swap jeans, flip flops, t-shirts and any other casual items in favour of a chic outfit such as a dress or trouser suit,” says Antonia.
If you’re wondering if the mother of the bride can wear white to a wedding or is it acceptable to wear black to a wedding, it’s certainly safer to steer clear of these colours. Whilst they are still up for debate and rules are a lot more relaxed nowadays it’s easier to stay cautious and avoid them completely. Black is often more acceptable at a black tie wedding but it’s worth checking with the bride to make sure. Try navy or champagne hues instead.
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