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Mother of the bride - choosing your style

As mother of the bride or groom deciding what to wear to your son or daughter’s wedding can be tricky.. It's not the sort of thing we wear very often so the first question to ask is where is the wedding.

Is it a formal church service or a civil ceremony on a beach?

Church weddings normally mean your outfit needs to be more formal so a dress and jacket of some sort will look the part. The latest look is a dress with a bolero which allows you to cover up in church and then wear the dress without the bolero in the evening for a more informal look. Of course, if the wedding is in the winter then you could opt for a dress and frock coat. Those churches can get quite chilly in the winter and you might benefit from having that extra layer.

Thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge, the frock coat is back on trend and there are some great well-styled coats to choose from the designers this year. These can also work in the summer with lighter fabrics and colours being used for the spring and summer collections. Once the wedding is over, why not consider wearing your frock coat with trousers or even jeans for a more informal look?

2017 also sees more standalone dresses which can be worn on their own with no need for a jacket of any kind. These dresses often have those much sought-after sleeves and can have as much wow factor once teamed with a striking headpiece or hat.

Civil ceremonies can be as formal as church weddings but tend to be less formal. That means for a mother of the bride or groom a smart day dress with a matching jacket or bolero can be suitable. If you haven't been involved in the planning of the wedding or are not sure what the colour scheme is then make sure you check with your son or daughter. You don't want to end up being over dressed for the occasion or worse still under-dressed!

What time of day is the wedding?

As mother of the bride or groom, you also need to take into account the time of day. With so many weddings having two, three or even fours different stages, having an outfit that can see you through at least a couple of them can keep the cost down. If the wedding is in the afternoon then you may want an outfit that will take you from the ceremony straight through to the reception meaning you have one outfit for the whole occasion. Depending on the outfit, you can achieve this by changing your jacket for a scarf or pashmina, or even a chiffon bolero instead of the jacket that came with the outfit. Many occasion dresses now have sleeves to cover your arms elegantly.

Other things to consider

  • If you're not so tall, you may find a frock coat can overpower you and make you look shorter. Keep this in mind when choosing your mother of the bride or groom outfit and look at the suits that have boleros or jackets that finish at the waist as these tend to be a better option for the shorter figure.

  • Some dresses do now come with cap sleeves to cover up the top of your arms and with lace being so on-trend, longer sleeves are also now featuring in occasion-wear. You will also find that outfits with spaghetti straps often come with optional wider straps to make the dress bra-friendly. Do keep in mind that a good seamstress may be able to add some sort of sleeve but this will usually be at an additional cost.

  • If you're conscious of your tummy area then dresses that are ruched across the middle can be very flattering. The way the fabric overlaps helps to hide the tummy and actually nips you in at the waist. It's worth remembering that this design tends to work whatever shape and size you may be. Layered dresses also give a slimmer silhouette and help disguise tummies.

  • For more informal weddings like those that might take place in a marquee or on a beach, you don't want to look over the top by perhaps wearing a suit and hat on a tropical beach but as mother of the bride or groom, you equally don't want to look like one of the wedding guests. We have a lot of experience in dressing mothers for all types of venues, even riding on the back of elephants!

  • If you're on a budget, a great way of keeping the cost of your mother of the bride and groom outfit down is to put a floaty dress with a jacket to formalise it and then you can wear it again. This is a great look for summer and country style weddings. The all-forgiving and much-loved maxi dresses with a jacket also work if you're a mother of the bride who doesn't want the formal look.

  • A wedding abroad could mean hot temperatures so consider what fabric you choose for your outfit. Silk is great to wear in a hot climate; it's a natural, breathable fabric and will help the air circulate against your skin. Light cotton dresses also work well and can easily fit in your suitcase for when you're travelling and only need a light iron after unpacking. Polyester chiffon and the more expensive Silk chiffon are also good options to give you a floaty mother of the bride outfit that you will feel cool in during the day. When you arrive at the hotel and have a shower, hang the dress in the bathroom and the steam should help any creases drop out.

  • A lot more weddings are taking place in the evening now and sometimes black tie is the dress code. Depending on the theme for the evening, you may need to buy two outfits. However, some mother of the bride outfits offer long elegant skirts with a bodice and bolero so by removing the bolero and adding an ornate scarf you can turn this into an evening outfit. Instead, team an evening dress with a separate bolero and you have an outfit that will see you through the whole wedding.

  • Finally, don't worry if you have to wear an outfit that has a size label bigger than you normally wear. Special occasion wear comes from all over the world so sizing varies from designer to designer and the cut of the dresses and jackets is not something we're used to wearing. The cut of casual clothing is for relaxed comfort and special occasion clothing is for shape and style. Remember nobody can see the size label. The most important thing is that you look amazing on the big day and our mission at Fab Frocks is to help make that happen for you.
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