Occasionwear tends to make people feel nervous. Unless you’re someone like the Duchess of Cambridge, it’s not everyday you get your glad rags on. Most women that come to my boutique confess they feel out of their comfort zone dressing up. Jeans and a T-shirt are the norm and at a push perhaps a smart dress. So when it comes to shopping for occasionwear, my top tip is to allow yourself time.
Occasionwear shopping – 5 top tips on keeping it stress free
1 Allow yourself time to shop but also allow yourself time to look at yourself in something different. Your brain will need time to adjust to seeing you looking all dressed up.
2 Go to a specialist. And I’m not just saying this because I own a special occasion boutique. But it is so much easier, if you go to a specialist. If you are shopping for a sofa, you go to a sofa shop for the best choice and expert advice. The same with a car – you go to a car showroom. So instead of trudging the high street and numerous shops, seek out the special occasion specialists. We know people want a lot of choice when it comes to choosing a mother of the bride or groom outfit. We know women have particular requirements when it comes to occasionwear. Arms to be covered. Length to be on or below the knee in most cases. Age-appropriate styles that are classy rather than frumpy.
3 And it doesn’t stop with the outfit. You may need a hat or headpiece. Shoes and a handbag as an all important finishing touch. Again, a specialist boutique like ours has all the accessories under one roof.
4 Occasionwear has two main seasons – spring/summer and autumn/winter. Spring/summer outfits start to arrive as early as November and autumn collections as early as August. The colour choices on offer will be everything from pastel to bold if you go to a specialist. The weight of the fabrics don’t change that much either. This means you can shop any time that suits you.
5 Of course bring a friend or the bride with you. But don’t shop by committee. Too many people with too many opinions will confuse you. At Fab Frocks, I pride myself on being honest with customers. You are a walking advert for my business so you need to look amazing not only for you but for my reputation too. Most of our business comes from word of mouth where other women have seen an existing customer in a fab frock.
Occasionwear shopping – how to buy what is right for you
If the bride wants you to blend in with the colour theme, there are lots of ways to do this. If you don’t fancy being in a certain colour head to toe, introduce the wedding theme colour with your accessories. Bright pink shoes and a hat with a navy outfit can add a fabulous pop of colour that could perhaps match in with the bridesmaids dresses.
It is great to step outside of your comfort zone but you still need to feel at ease. Don’t allow yourself to be dictated to by others.
Come shopping with an open mind. I’m sorry but you won’t “know it when you see it”. Occasion dresses and jackets need to be tried on so you can get the feel of the fabric and see the way they are cut to flatter.
Come shopping with decent underwear on and nude tights. We offer shoes in our changing rooms for customers to try with their outfits. It is hard to get the right look if you are trying on with your trainers!
Obviously, the venue will influence your choice. You would look out of place at a festival-themed wedding in a formal dress and jacket. Far better to opt for a pretty summer dress and fabulous fascinator. But it doesn’t matter where the wedding is taking place. If it is in a field or a castle, there will be a right style outfit for you.
Remember formal doesn’t have to be frumpy. There are at last some stunning on-trend mother of the bride and groom outfits. Check out designers such as Linea Raffaelli for starters. This Belgium designer combines the flair of Chanel-inspired dresses with neat little jackets. Other designers that I find appeal to mums “who don’t want to look mumsie” include Veromia Occasions, Dress Code, John Charles and Carla Ruiz.
Bear in mind that sizing on special occasion clothes can vary to everyday clothes. You are likely to need the outfit altering in some way. And don’t worry if you have to go up a size with some designers even if you have been dieting hard for the big day. Designer clothing just tends to be neater on the fit.
Don’t pay for a personal shopper. A good special occasion boutique should offer this service free as part of its customer service.
If you can’t travel to a special occasion boutique, a few, like us, have an online shopping service. This allows you 14 days to decide if you would like to keep the outfit and you can try on in the comfort of your own home.
Occasionwear – how much can I expect to spend?
We all know weddings can be expensive. That’s why we aim to cater for all budgets with a dress and jacket starting at £195 and going through to £900. Don’t be embarrassed to let a sales assistant know your budget. I have helped lots of ladies find their perfect outfit and stay in budget. We are also more than happy to take a deposit so the cost can be spread across several months in a payment plan.
We know weddings can be stressful enough without shopping for what to wear adding to that stress factor! So let us help you take the stress out of shopping for that special occasion and make it special instead!