Strut Your Style: Non-Matronly Dresses for Wedding Mothers

Mother of the groom

Whether you’re a mother of a bride or a mother of a groom, you undoubtedly want to look your best for one of the best days of your child’s life. The only problem is that mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses are notoriously awful. When you start to envision a mother of the bride or a mother of the groom dress you often think of boxy, unflattering, no shape, and traditional. But just because you’re a mother does not mean that you don’t have a sense of style or that you want to be covered completely head to toe in fabric. Here’s a guide on how to find a non-matronly dress for a mother of the bride or groom, and which styles to choose (and to avoid).

Don’t Start Looking for Dresses in the Obvious Places

Though mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses have slowly but surely gotten better over the years, you’re still likely going to find very matronly, old fashioned looking frocks at many bridal stores. If you’re looking for something a little more modern and stylish, don’t start out at those traditional stores. Skipping the traditional bridal store may also end up saving you a lot of money, making it a win-win for you.

Shopping with mom

Instead, head over to your favorite department store dress section (or look online) to find some styles of dresses you like. Stores to consider when picking out a dress might be J Crew’s wedding collection (which doesn’t offer mother of the bride dresses but still has lovely bridesmaid options that would work), ModCloth, Neiman Marcus, or Nordstrom.

Remember that there’s no rule saying that you have to have an official mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress—just pick out a dress that makes you feel confident and elegant. You may have already gotten some input from the bride or the groom on what style or color of dress they have picked out so be sure to honor their choices as much as you can.

Which Dress Styles to Choose

When you start to search for your dress, think about what styles and shapes that you’re looking for. Also consider the time of day the wedding will be at, the type of venue the couple has chosen, and what season you’ll need to be dressed for.

Details like lace and other delicate features like simple beading are very stylish right now for mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses, so pair these with timeless features like A-line skirts, tea length skirts, three-quarter length sleeves, or off-the-shoulder sleeves. You can also choose a classic fabric like chiffon, satin, or crepe that breathes easily (you will be dancing a lot, after all).

Mother of the bride and daughter

If you want to avoid a traditional matronly look, don’t go for a dress that is too loosely structured or that only comes in shades of pastel. Also don’t go for sleeves that are drape-y or bodices that have a lot of bright and intricate beading. Remember that there’s a difference between a classic, elegant look and a look that covers up all your best features. Of course you don’t want to try to outshine the bride, but no one ever said it wasn’t okay for the mother of the bride or mother of the groom to look gorgeous.

Feel More Comfortable Covered Up? You Still Have Options

Let’s face it: not all of us have Michelle Obama’s enviable arms. If you don’t feel comfortable exposing a huge amount of skin, there are ways to cover up besides the matronly looking jacket that you often see on mother of the bride dresses. For example, a beautiful shawl in the color of your dress is an elegant way to feel covered up but still fashionable. You could also pick out a pretty cardigan or a wrap that you can wear for pictures or for dancing. For a black-tie option, wear a fur (or faux fur) shawl that will look great in pictures and make any dress feel next-level fancy.

Family wedding photo

If All Else Fails, Go for the LBD

No matter what the occasion, time of day, or time of year, there’s always one reliable standard a woman can wear to an event: the little black dress. Though etiquette traditionally dictated that wedding parties didn’t wear black to avoid looking too somber, times have changed. The little black dress will look classy, timeless, and best of all will be easy to find at almost any store you shop at. A black dress is easy to dress up or dress down and will look appropriate for almost any venue or season that the wedding is held in.

Best of all, a little black dress is something you can wear for date nights, girls nights, or on a formal night of a cruise you’ve been dying to book as soon as this wedding is over with.

Don’t sacrifice your look entirely for the sake of your child’s wedding. There are plenty of great comprises out there that still suit the style-savvy mother!

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