The choice of what to wear as MOB - Mother of the Bride (or groom), is a hard one. The bride may have specific demands of her own as to style and color. In addition, depending on your relation to your new in-laws, you probably want to look better than the other mother (many mothers make that their one demand of me). Regardless of in-laws and formality of the wedding, you will certainly want to look elegant, stunning, and regal. Sure, the wedding day may be all about the bride, but as a mother of the happy couple, you will have plenty of time in the limelight too and want to look fabulous - preserved in photographic detail in all your glory for posterity.
Here are 3 simple guidelines of what to look for when choosing your dress:
1. Keep the bride's criteria in mind.
If the bride asks you wear blue, and you show up in magenta, you may stick out badly in the photos, and probably upset the bride - even if you aren't thrilled with your son's choice of wife, you DON'T want to anger the bride. Bad things will happen. Both karmically, and immediately (Bridezilla, anyone?). An angry bride can ensure that you are not in the wedding photos, or have you airbrushed out later. She can also exact vengence for years, alienating your son and limiting your access to your grandkiddies. Are you getting the point here? The wedding day is about the bride, NOT YOU. If she says wear green, and you think you look terrible in green, work with a stylist to find a shade of green that does work, DON'T simply wear a different color.
2. Go with the time/theme/place of the wedding.
If it is a morning beach wedding, it is probably going to be a much more casual wedding than an evening wedding at the Ritz, and you'll want to dress accordingly - or look really awkwardly out of place....
A good stylist can help here too, but remember, whether casual on the beach or in a nice hotel, you will want to dress more elegantly than you would for a casual coffee date with a friend, a tupperwear party, or the PTA meeting. I recently attended a wedding where one of the mothers was dressed in a badly fitting casual dress with a tee-shirt underneath. Since it was a more formal wedding, this did NOT look good. Everyone kept asking if she was some cousin or even the babysitter for the guests' children, since she did not look like a member of the wedding party. When in doubt, ask a stylist! Even if you aren't in doubt, if you are not known for your exquisite fashion sense, ASK A STYLIST. This is too important an occasion to just 'wing it'. Which brings me to my next point.....
3. Dress for your figure and age.
Speaking of wings, we all know that flabby bit under the arm - the tricep - that bedevils most of us. Unless your arms are tight and toned, look for a dress with sleeves or wear it with a jacket or a carefully draped shawl. Remember, while not the focus of as much attention as the bride, you will still be the cynosure of all gazes. Dress to minimize any less than ideal aspects of your figure (we all have them), and to emphasize your good points. If your figure is no longer perfectly smooth and shapely (as in, if you are older than 12 and not a health fiend), consider an outfit more loose and flowing that gently skims your curves, hinting at your graceful beauty (which you still have), rather than a tight dress or skirt that will cling unflatteringly and show any curves you don't want attention drawn to.
Keep skirt/dress hems AT LEAST JUST BELOW THE KNEE. No matter how good your figure is, women over 25 rarely look good in skirts that are above the knee in length. Even if your figure is perfect, a too-short skirt or dress looks age-inappropriate. Remember Madeleine Albright and her too-short hems? (Click here in case you've forgotten... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madeleine_Albright_at_WEF.jpg )
She had neither the figure, nor the age, nor the career position, to make her hem lengths appropriate.
Also watch for fit - all too often women wear clothes that do not fit properly. A stylist should be able to properly fit you. Skirts should hug the waist, then fall gracefully, just brushing (NOT hugging) the curve of your rear. Shirts and jackets can fit loosely or closely, but should never be so snug that your bra straps, or any extra rolls of fat, are visible. Shirts should always be long enough to cover your belly, even if you raise your arms. Belly-baring tops are ok for teens, not for the mother of the bride. Good posture will help your clothes fit better, make you look younger and healthier, and is healthier. Back straight, shoulders back (not too far, they should make a plain across your upper back, not stick out behind you like wings), chin up, proud carriage.
Now that you are all dolled up and look smashing (and age appropriate), there is one other little point to keep in mind....
Make sure your dress is something that will be comfortable, that you can move in, that you can dance in. Try wearing it around your house for a few hours before the wedding to see if there are any spots that pinch, rub, or poke. The last thing you want is to be gorgeous, but have the effect ruined by your constant twitching, or have to leave the party early because you are so miserable. Think this is impossible when it comes to formal wear? Even if you are only used to wearing the loosest, most casual clothes, a good stylist or personal shopper can help you find something that will still be soft and comfortable to wear. Consider silks - as satins, charmeause, chiffons, or velvets; or cashmeres if you want soft fabrics that will drape gracefully and be comfortable. Silk is a very breathable fabric, which is also cool in summer, warm in winter, and amazingly easy to care for (coming in a future blog post, or contact me directly.)
For more information, or to schedule a complimentary fashion consultation for your big event, please don't hesitate to contact us at Tongue In Chic Design - 303-758-9858.
Remember, we also carry a selection of elegant, modest, clothing for Mother of the Bride or Groom.