Thursday, December 22, 2011

Specialty Shops for Mother of the Bride Dresses

Why Choose a Specialty Shop?

The term "Mother of the Bride" dress refers to a category of attire for weddings and special occasions. Included also is the groom's mother and esteemed guests, such as grandmothers and aunts. When shopping for a dress for your child's wedding, consider beginning your search by going to  boutiques that specialize in dressy clothing. They offer a wide range of styles, fabrics and colors
appropriate for any season. They stock dresses for any season all year 'round. While wedding attire today tends to be more casual than in the past, it is still considered party wear, distinct from everyday clothing or rather street wear. We encourage the mother of the groom to be sure to look for a special dress also. Many friends and family members will be present and photographs will be taken as mementoes, you will want to look your best and celebrate the occasion by dressing up. You will always look back on this occasion and be glad you invested the effort into putting together a lovely outfit to honor yourself and the couple.

mother of the bride, mother of the groom
September 23, 2006, Pittsburgh, PA

Browsing in specialty shops or formal wear departments of your favorite store will acquaint you with this mode of dress. By the process of elimination, you can begin to decide on what you might consider wearing.

Sophi escorted by her mother
Mom escorts daughter, Los Angeles, CA Exquisite gowns with ruching

There are several reasons to shop in a specialty boutique for your dress or suit for the wedding. 
1. Such shops specialize in dressy attire. They will have many choices of fabric and style.
2. Such styles are classic and less subject to fashion fads as street wear or seasonal clothing. 
3. The sales assistants and designers understand the mature woman's figure and create clothing that fits well.

  the mother of the bride

Mother of the bride in festive floral print two-piece chiffon dress with ruffled jacket arriving in limo

4. They are experienced and can answer the kinds of questions that are likely to be asked. They have outfitted mothers,  the wedding party, and brides for every type of wedding, from formal and traditional to casual and contemporary.
5. They will suggest styles for your particular shape and colors for your coloring. They often understand color and style harmony and will work with you to find a great look, whether you want something conservative, or perhaps a style that is more adventurous.

Mother & Brother of the Bride
Mother of the bride in floral print shift style formal dress with modified cowl neck
6. They appreciate when you have done your homework, so to speak, by beginning to develop some ideas of your own. However, the are also happy to work with you from scratch.
7. The one thing they will tell you is to allow them enough time to do their job well. Although you can pull together an outfit in three weeks, if you have to, it would be so much easier to allow three months. They will often allow you to pay on lay-away.
8. There are three types of specialty shops, one is where they are exclusively for bridal and formal wear. They do not manufacture the dresses so your dress will most likely have to be ordered. The dresses usually come sized to allow for alterations, so if you don't anticipate alterations, sometimes you will order a smaller size. They will need time to be sure your color selection is in stock, especially if it is a more frequently chosen color such as rose, blue or teal. They will alter the dress once it comes in. Usually, you have from one to two fittings.


The "pop" of a bright color looks great in photographs. Cindy, a red-head mother of the bride looks great in pink.

9. Better department stores often have a formal wear department. However, sometimes these dresses are not suitable for a church wedding. They might be too bare, or have too much glitter or be too form-fitting. Usually, the store will do alterations for you.

Vicky & Bev

Mother of Groom and Mother of Bride in formal suits with coordinating colors and styles, wearing pearls.

10. The third type is a store that makes their own clothing, such speciality boutiques are designer-owned and make all garments locally. The approach can be quite personal as you can meet with the designer. You can also easily put together a mini-wardrobe of coordinated outfits for all the other festivities related to the wedding. Once your dress is custom-made, they will have your measurements for future orders. Such shops often are lower priced than comparable department store prices because they have lower overhead costs. Such shops often carry the lines of one or more local designers. Another advantage is that they are local, so their designs are suited to the environment and lifestyle of where you live.

Three Generations

Three generations walking down the aisle. Photo by Sullivan Studio

Speciality boutiques are also current on trends in other parts of the country and overseas as well. If you are traveling for a wedding, they can help you know what is appropriate in your destination. They often have much quicker turn-around than other shops because all work is done locally. However, they can get busy at "bridal season" or around the holidays. They also appreciate a two to three month window to create your dress or outfit. Often, such shops will carry a range of accessories or can make recommendations of where to shop for accessories.

Mother of the bride and groom's mother color and fabric coordination, ruffled dusty mauve skirt
harmonizes beautifully with multi-color abstract print skirt. Fun and festive.
Candid photograph by Jim Alli in Maine.

For mother dresses or special occasion attire such as second weddings or vow renewals, visit Joanie Char Design Boutique in San Francisco. Can't come in person? Give them a call, they can send swatches and photos. Sample styles can be viewed on the post dated 11/26/2011,"Mother of the Bride/Groom Ensembles."  Store hours are Monday- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Joanie Char Boutique
537 Sutter Street
San Francisco CA 94102
Tel (415) 399-9867                    (c) 2011 Joanie Char Design Group

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