Monday, November 28, 2011

      Selecting Your Mother of the Bride or Groom Outfit

Julie with her sisters and mother, 7 May 11
                                              A smart black and white wedding theme in London.
Finding your perfect mother's dress ensemble begins with some advance planning. Normally, you would take your cues from the bride and wait until she has decided on the style of her gown, her bridesmaids dresses, and chosen her color scheme. Your first considerations are the level of formality or style of wedding your daughter or son has chosen, the date, the location, seasonal climate, and time of day. You can  get ideas by leafing through bridal magazines, visiting the mother of the bride sections in bridal shops or the evening wear section in department stores. 

Mothers' looks tend to have simpler, more elegant, cleaner lines than in the past. Long dresses with jackets, dressy suits, or silk pants ensembles are more popular  than the formal fussy gowns of the past. Tea-length or even knee length dresses can  look fresh and new. Mothers dresses do not want to look bridesmaids but they an harmonize in color or style, if desired. However, this is not necessary. You'll want to be in a related color tone and range.  

Sleeve treatment is another concern. Many mothers tend to favor  outfits with sleeves. The detailing on sleeves can be a festive, novelty treatment.  Choose a color that is compatible with the bride's theme, but do not match it. It is best to avoid any shade of ivory, champagne or bisque. Also avoid black or red, unless the bride has chosen black or red as her color scheme and would like for you to wear it. The bride can also let you know what color the other mother is considering. The bride's mother is supposed to choose first and set the tone. But sometimes she delays, if that is the case, the groom's mother need not also delay if she knows what she wants. Mothers tend to wear dignified colors that will harmonize well with the wedding party. Some suggestions, depending on the season and the bride's palette, are lavender, periwinkle, turquoise, burgundy, or silver.  If the bride is choosing a contemporary scheme for dramatic effect, such as a black and white theme, mothers  still do not have to match the wedding party but can choose a contrasting color. Or accessorize a black dress with bright or contrasting color.   

As  you look in specialty fashion boutiques or department stores, try on various styles to get a sense of what looks well and feels comfortable. You can't tell how flattering a dress looks until you try it on. Let the associate or stylist help, as evening wear is sized differently from normal sizing. Alterations are usually included for free or at a nominal charge. It is best to shop with just one or two other people--your daughter or a friend. But don't bring a group or you will end up choosing nothing.

Mother\'s love | Father\'s emotion

Some women are fortunate to have husbands who enjoy shopping. Just make sure your husband understands the dress color and code and that the floor sample in your size is not going to be the dress in the color you will order. At the end of the season, the floor samples go on sale, but they are usually ivory or black. The bride is normally the only one in white. A color next to her dress is often prettier than an ivory outfit, unless the bride has chosen that ivory and white as her theme.  Sometimes, mothers think they will want to wear the dress again and are trying to be practical. For other parties, a dress in a color can be worn as readily as ivory. If you want a neutral, choose soft silver or pale gold. Then if the next occasion to which you wish to wear the dress is a wedding, you will not have a color dilemma to face. 

If you are proportionally built and a standard sample size, you may well find that many dresses fit you and some look great. If you tend to be conservative, you might want to stretch yourself to broaden our outlook as to what you will wear. However, if a dress absolutely does not suit your personality,  pass it by. We find that sometimes the best person to help a woman make her final decision is her husband. 

Andy and Rita

Some women may feel that their figure is not the ideal they once had and therefore start to compromise their expectations. There is no reason to settle for the wrong style. There are plenty of options if you can give yourself enough time. Consider separates, or dresses with jackets, and experiment with various hem lengths in skirts. There are also many dressy pants options.  Keep in mind that you will be wearing the dress for a number of hours and be moving around a lot, greeting guests, dancing, perhaps even snapping a few candid photos of your own. Look for built-in comfort features, such as bias cuts that move freely and hidden side elastic in the waistbands of skirts or pants. When choosing the style, the concept is understated elegance. The goal is to choose a dress that does not draw attention from the bride. People will be looking at the mothers, plenty of attention will be coming your way. During the course of the wedding day, there might be temperature changes. If your dress is custom-made, a matching or coordinating jacket or shawl can also be requested. 

If you have  another child's wedding coming up, you'll want to wear a different dress for each wedding. Photos are going to be taken of the same family members at the separate weddings. You won't want to be photographed in the same dress. Your children will feel special if you choose a different dress for each of their weddings.

Mother and Bride
The bride chose an ecru dress for her mom. The style and fabric are thematically related to the bride's dress in her all-white wedding. 
Once the mother of the bride has considered what she will wear, she gives the groom's mom a call. However, some mothers are not too fashion-conscious and not  interested in shopping for the right dress. What the other mother is wearing might not be a concern to them. If it is your son who is getting married, and you are looking forward to assembling your new outfit, consult with the bride if her mom has not initiated contact. Let her know you wanted to check on the color scheme, her mom's choice of outfit, the level of formality and the hem length.
Mother of the Groom, Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride and Groom's Mother

Accessories are chosen after the dress. The right accessories in jewelry, shoes and purse, will complete your look, creating harmony and beauty. A necklace can provide the finishing touch,  an artistic piece can give an extra flair to your outfit and give you a fresh, contemporary look. This is the time be creative. If you "always wear pearls," then consider a double strand to look special. Think along the lines of completing a fashionable costume rather than feeling you must wear your traditional heirloom piece. Have fun with your look, it will boost your confidence on the day when a lifetime of happy memories are being created.

Husbands sometimes accompany their wives to help her with the final decision. Such men know what looks well on their wives. They ignore what she thinks of as her figure flaws that she scrutinizes in the mirror and magnifies in her mind. They are thinking of the wife's beauty, whereas the woman can be very self-critical. Husbands often suggest a style a bit more daring than the wife had considered. We may have had the same thought, but knew the wife would not consider it, so we didn't show it. When the husband pulls it from the rack, his choice often turns out to be the right one. A woman can radiate confidence in the right outfit. 

A husband also will often encourage his wife to put together the entire outfit at one time, helping choose the necklace and earrings. We have had husbands return on their own the next day to purchase her second and third choices for the other events related to the wedding such as the rehearsal dinner. They are practical-minded. Effort has gone into shopping, researching and deciding. They feel she chose an outfit to please him, he can surprise her with an outfit that will also please her. A husband enjoys making both of them happy on this day full of emotions.

Our Wedding
The bride and the mother of the bride. Lorelle and Adele photographed by Dave Melbourn

Color theme ideas for weddings and dresses can be viewed at the following website:

To see classic or novelty looks for women's special occasion clothing, visit Joanie Char boutique in San Francisco. They will suggest flattering styles and colors for your figure type and personality. They offer jewelry and will custom make your outfit.  If you are not local, you may call for a consultation and have swatches and photos sent to you. Samples of Joanie Char fashions for mother of the bride or groom and special occasion attire can be viewed on the post below,"Mother of the Bride/Groom Ensembles," dated Saturday, 11/26/2011. 

Joanie Char Boutique
537 Sutter Street
San Francisco CA 94102
Phone (415) 399-9867
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT                                      (c)2011 Joanie Char Design Group

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