How To: Pick The Perfect Mother's Dress

Watters Mothers DressIf you think picking out a wedding dress is tough, just talk to a mother of the bride (or groom). Not only do they have to find a dress that suits their own style, figure and budget, but they also frequently have to squeeze in the terms and expectations of the bride, the groom, the other mother, opinionated bridesmaids and relatives, and the list goes on.

To make matters worse, moms (god love em) tend to make sure every other detail is perfectly in place before they even start to look for their own dress – meaning they’re shopping with, like, two weeks until the big day. But no pressure.

We think the mother of the bride or groom deserves to look fabulous too, so we’ve put together some tips to help mom find wedding day fabulosity without losing her sanity:

Confer In Advance With The Bride (and Groom!). While some mothers are given carte blanche in terms of color and style, more often than not the bride and/or groom would like to have their mothers wear dresses that complement their wedding vision. Better to discuss this in advance of shopping, and also figure out how much wiggle room you’ve got in case your options are limited (i.e. if you can’t find the salmon pink satin dress the bride has envisioned in the three days you have to shop, would she be willing to settle for a tasteful gray? These are the questions that must be asked).

Speaking of Color … If you haven’t been given any guidelines as to color coordination we’d suggest considering neutral hues or deep jewel tones including silver, black, taupe, chocolate, navy, gold, wine, eggplant and teal. As for the question of black, there was a time that black was reserved for funerals or other somber occasions, but the truth is that in the 21st century, black is simply an expression of timeless chic. If the bride will be offended by a black dress, then pass it up – but if she’s good with it and you love it, go for it.

The Question of Coverage. Okay, for us this really comes down to a question of the mother-in-question’s comfort level. Old rules might have dictated mom kept her shoulders or arms covered, but this is 2013 – it’s seriously okay to wear a sleeveless or strapless dress (especially in August – why should mom have to suffer?). Of course, this is not the time for mom to bring sexy back – the bride is and always should be the center of attention – but we don’t think an exposed shoulder is going to cause any major scandal. That being said, if mom just doesn’t love her arms and wants to be covered, there are beautiful options for dresses either with sleeves, with a jacket (bolero or otherwise) or a coordinating wrap.

Remember, Alterations Are Your Friend. If you have left yourself plenty of time to shop and can order a dress in the perfect size and color, fabulous. But if, like many moms, the shopping is of the frenzied last-minute variety, just keep in mind that alterations can make an “almost-it” dress the perfect one. For example, looking for a tea length dress? Consider full length – they can usually be hemmed to tea length for the same price as a hem (just make sure to get a good visual as to whether shortening will change the overall flow of the dress). Alterations can potentially add straps, remove sleeves, and even take a dress down a size or two (in case you find the dress you love but don’t have time to order the proper size). Just be sure to price out the alterations before you buy to ensure you’re staying on budget.

Finally, if traditional mother’s dresses are just not your thing, or if you are looking for a fabulous dress at a lower price point, consider a bridesmaid dress! There are bridesmaid dresses out there in truly timeless classic styles (try Watters, Dessy, Jasmine) that are perfect for mother’s dresses too – and even if you don’t have time to order, some bridal salons will sell bridesmaid sample dresses off the floor (we do!).

Looking for a little mother of the bride (or groom) inspiration (or ready to get a head start on shopping)? Check out our favorite current looks for spectacularly stylish mothers:

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