Beautiful Moms

By Sharon Naylor

December 19, 2008 6 min read


Mothers of the bride and groom don't need to look frumpy

Sharon Naylor

Creators News Service

Dowdy, frumpy, sequin-splattered mother of the bride dresses are a thing of the past. Today's mothers and stepmothers of the bride and groom are the luckiest generation ever when it comes to finding the perfect wedding day dresses and accessories, since high fashion and fabulous fabrics mean they get to wear ensembles that are every bit as gorgeous as the bride's.

"The mom is the second most important woman on the day of the wedding, so she wants to look spectacular and feel great in what she's wearing," said Liz Cascio, special occasion dress buyer for David's Bridal. "Today's mothers vary in personal style and comfort level -- with some desiring a classic look and others wanting a more fashion-forward choice -- but the overriding trend that we hear from our customers is that mothers don't want to look old."

Since some mothers work hard to maintain a youthful, fit appearance -- and want to look their best by emphasizing their best attributes. Because of this, there is a definite trend toward mothers considering dresses marketed toward the bridesmaids.

However, they also don't want to go overboard, look too ornate and overdone or in any way compete with the bride's rightful place as the shining star of the day. A careful balance must be achieved so that Mom looks appropriate for the big day and feels as if this is the dress of her dreams.

Start dress shopping at least six months before the wedding to allow plenty of time to search, order and undergo fittings. Four months is the absolute latest cutoff point to avoid paying late fees for rush orders.

Here are the top trends and considerations:


For the upcoming spring wedding season, the top colors for moms are neutrals such as champagne, mocha, chocolate and silver. For spring in general, color trends for moms include sages and butter yellows, soft tones that are chosen for color coordination with the bridal party and the perfect complement to a mother's skin tone.

"One of the biggest concerns is that the mothers' dresses coordinate with the colors of the bridesmaids' dresses, which is why we've established an online tool called our Color Coordination Chart," Cascio said. "At, you'll access the chart, click on 'Mothers and Special Guests,' enter the bridesmaids' dress color and it will suggest the ideal coordinating colors for the mothers' dresses. For instance, if the bridesmaids' dresses are blue, the mothers' dresses might be complementary shades of purple, red or brown. If the bridesmaids are in deep purple, the mothers' dresses may be in softer lilac shades."


While some mothers relish the opportunity to shine in a strapless or sleeveless dress, many mothers prefer to be a bit more covered up. The overwhelming trend is a modestly cut dress with wider straps for a sleeveless dress, a scoop or square neckline that doesn't show too much d├ęcolletage, and -- the essential -- a jacket, shawl or wrap providing coverage plus the option to remove the cover-up during the later hours of the reception.

Jackets, shawls and wraps may be made from the same material as the dress or from a coordinating fabric with some visual interest such as a delicate fringe on the edges for visual appeal. A growing trend is the chiffon wrap or the bolero jacket.

To camouflage a tummy pooch, moms should consider a two-piece dress with a bodice panel extending down past her navel, providing a bit of tummy control, or even, as Cascio suggested, ruching or a ripple effect of fabric at the midsection.


"Anything with novelty fabrication is hot right now, such as a shimmer taffeta or a metallic chiffon, not a basic crepe or chiffon dress," said Cascio. The fabrics that are in demand have a definite textural appeal and provide some sparkle without the gaudiness of sequins.


For a formal evening or formal afternoon wedding, moms are still wearing floor-length dresses, but a new trend is arising in which both bridesmaids and moms wear dresses with a shorter silhouette, said Cascio. "We're seeing increased demand for the shorter jacket dress with a short, detailed bolero jacket." This new rule in dress lengths allows moms to show off their legs (and their shoes!) and often spend a bit less for the shorter style of dress.


A faux belt, hand-sewn bugle beading and Swarovski crystals give the shimmer effect many moms want, but the trend now is for the fabric to shine without much added embellishment.

Cascio said a great handbag and shoes complete the look, as well as more understated jewelry that suits the dress neckline. A simpler pair of diamond dangle earrings is far more appropriate for the elegantly dressed mother than a chandelier earring. Over-doing the jewelry actually wrecks the fine ensemble, crossing the line into "too much."

Sharon Naylor is the author of The Mother of the Bride Book and Mother of the Groom, plus over 30 additional wedding books at

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