Nothing To Wear: Appropriate (Wedding) Attire For Mothers Of The Bride And Groom:
by Mia Bolaris-Forget
The day you’ve been waiting for since, well, you “little girl” (or boy) was truly a little girl (or little boy).
But your as anxious about walking down the red carpet (I mean aisle) as she is and since your heard those three little words (“we got engaged”) you’ve probably been pondering what to wear.
Whether it’s a black tie affair, and you just don’t feel right or comfortable wearing black (or white) to a wedding (especially your child’s, to concerns about her laid back fashion when you’re more of a glamour queen, dressing for success could easily turn into a fashion fiasco.
The good news is that times have changed, so have attitudes and traditions, making it “easier’ for everyone to get along before the big day.
Today’s couples aren’t too concerned about custom, but rather about comfort, convenience and common sense.
Ideally and traditionally, the mothers’ dresses were expected to be similar in style and color to those of the bridal party, and were generally a more modest version in a shade or two lighter.
Today however, with moms staying “younger” and “sexier” longer, brides and grooms give the women in their lives yet another opportunity to shine, and show off, both their assets and their personality. The only “guideline” (which does make sense when you think about it) is that moms should NOT wear the same style or color (as each other) but both should coordinate with and/or compliment the bridal party (and the bride and groom). For instance, if the bridal party is wearing brown, moms may choose a gown in ecru, beige, gold, or any hue within the same family. However, they may also select something from a different color family but that compliments brown, such as red (red and camel combinations are especially hot in the fall). Another option (one I chose to go with) is having my bridal party match with my mother in law and then matching my mom to me and the groom, and putting grandma in a color complimentary to both. So, picture this, my groomsmen wore a blue seersucker ensemble (we wed on the beach), his mom wore a blue and white dress, the groom work beige seersuckers and an ecru top and I wore a dress that was white on beige, so my mom wore caramel and white, and grandma wore a wine red. (Dad’s by the way chose outfits to compliment their wives).
Another (sort of mandatory) consideration is the “formality” of the gown. Keep in mind that weekend affairs, especially those held in the evening tend to be the most formal and weekday and daytime affairs the most casual and “informal”. Formality also depends, of course, also on venue, which means these factors should be considered before or when choosing your dress. Wearing a beaded ball gown to an afternoon garden tea may look completely out of place.
Formal black tie (evening) affairs call for full length gown and/or ball gowns (choose a gown that grazes you ankles for a daytime event but one that “sweeps” the floor for evening. Less formal events may call for a skirt and top, a flowing A-line skirt or dress or a day suit (and hat if you’re a hat gal).
According to tradition moms should never wear white. White is primarily ONLY for the bride (and her flower girls), and you should never wear anything that may upstage the bride.
Black, if the couple insists on it (for a black and white wedding) or if they don’t have issue (or any superstition with it) is fine, but primarily for evening events. However, generally speaking black was worn at weddings only when there was sadness in the family or if the mother disapproved of her child’s choice (in marital mate), but professionals suggest that since some of these “superstitions” are just that, it’s best to discuss your option, and boundaries with the bride and groom, and don’t forget to ask about any superstitions the in-laws may have.
So, with all this newfound fashion freedom, you can be assured that you have more options in finding something that flatters you figure and your personality. Just keep these few suggestions and guidelines in mind.
1. Formal Or Evening Events: Choose a floor-length gown (not white, off-white may be okay) and choose heels that are both appropriate and comfortable (even if the gown covers your shoes). Make sure you have coordinating accessories but leave the watch at home. And, don’t forget the corsage or small bouquet.
2. Semi Formal Daytime Or Evening Affairs: Your best option is a street length dress, a “Sunday” suit or a flowing dress. Again, make sure heels and accessories match and are appropriate and that you are wearing a wrist corsage.
3. Informal Day Or Night Time Event: Again, a nice suit (NOT a business suit) or a nice “Sunday” or “street” dress is fine (preferably not white, off-white may be okay). Keep in mind that if the bride and groom have chosen a park, beach, or other “funkadelic” location, you should dress appropriately. Once again, heels and accessories should coordinate and a wrist corsage is also in order.