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Stylish Mother of the Bride Outfits: Dresses, Gowns, and Suits

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Vintage fashion is my hobby because I am fashion-conscious and try to be unique. My personal signature? Wearing vintage-inspired apparel.

Every bride’s mother wants to look fabulous at her daughter’s wedding. This is her day, a time she has been looking forward to, an occasion that calls for a great appearance. A beautiful mother-of-the-bride outfit.

A chic mother-of-the-bride dress/suit with a short lace embellished jacket.

A chic mother-of-the-bride dress/suit with a short lace embellished jacket.

MOB (mother-of-the-bride) clothes come in three main categories, dresses, gowns, and suits, but their sub-categories vary enormously. This is where choosing the right outfit, style, colour, and texture becomes a sometimes-nerve-racking challenge. Shall it be formal/informal/elegant/simple/elaborate/sophisticated/prim or era-inspired? These and more are the first things a bride’s mum needs to consider.

Wearing a special dress has always been a part of wedding customs, the reason why it is believed to be the second most important attire after the bride’s dress. Being an important person who perhaps is the most involved in planning, organizing, and co-funding the event, the significance of her dress is second only to the brides.

Choosing a Style

The choice of a style depends on a great number of things but let us consider these important ones.

  • Age. Is the mother of the bride young?
  • Lifestyle. Is she free-spirited and adventurous with an exciting lifestyle?
  • Wedding theme. Is the wedding going to be a formal affair, an eclectic setup, or a vintage-inspired event?
  • Bride’s dress style. Is the bride wearing a dress, a 3-piece suit, or an elaborately flowing gown?
  • Fashion sense. Does she have good taste and a great dress sense and only wears what fits and complements her silhouette?

Up until the 20th century, the mother of the bride dresses was expected to be very formal, almost matronly. Not anymore. The typical mother was older and generally unfashionable. Many MOB’s wore somber or severe outfits that made them come across as stoic mature women, and what they wore were no more than washed-out shades of beige, or pale pastels. But not anymore.

Today, mothers of the bride now come as young as forty and as old as seventy. Many in their sixties and seventies don’t look a day older than fifty. They are mostly young-at-heart and always like to look fit, happy, smart, and fashionable.

A youthful style for the bride's mother. Green sequined dress with a beautiful bow waist sash.

A youthful style for the bride's mother. Green sequined dress with a beautiful bow waist sash.

3 Categories of Outfits Worn by Brides Moms


Dress styles are basically formal, informal, or casual. They however vary depending on whether they are modern or traditional, simple or chic, or overstated or understated. And depending on the choice of the wearer, they can be short, knee, or calf length. A casual outdoor wedding like a beach wedding can call for a pretty flowy breezy dress with a sun hat and a pair of chic and comfortable flat sandals. For a more formal setting, the bride’s mother can wear a strapless tailor-cut dress with an elegant jacket or cape.


Styles of mother-of-the-bride gowns also come in various designs. They tend to be more formal and are majorly the popular choice among most mothers of brides and grooms. Gowns are made for elegance and style. They are flattering and sophisticated and come in many beautiful designs like trumpet gown, tea-length, A-line, column, high-low, ball-room, and mermaid styles.


Suits come as both skirts and pantsuits and are styles that younger and young-at-heart MOBs seem to choose the most. They can be two-piece - the top and skirt (or pants) or three-piece which comes with a jacket. Suits are stylish and come in feminine, classic, or trendy cuts. Good tailoring is essential for a perfect fit as they are great investments in the sense that they can be worn time and time again, even after the wedding day.

Flattering and Alluring Styles

  • Strapless ball gowns
  • Off-the-shoulder dresses
  • One-shoulder styles
  • Trumpet gowns
  • Cape dresses
  • Two-piece suits
  • High-low gowns
  • Mermaid dress
  • Fishtail styles
  • Tiered ruffled dresses
  • Tea-length sheath dresses
  • A-line dresses
  • Long dress and jacket
  • Mesh dresses
  • Column gowns
Elegant and body-flattering mother-of-the-bride dress. Notice the stylish silhouette and details of this vintage-inspired old Hollywood glamour look.

Elegant and body-flattering mother-of-the-bride dress. Notice the stylish silhouette and details of this vintage-inspired old Hollywood glamour look.

  • Velvet
  • Jacquard
  • Mesh lace
  • Satin
  • Brocade
  • Taffeta
  • Chiffon
  • Organza
  • Silk Georgette
  • Light crepe
  • Damask
  • Embroidered fabrics

Appropriate MOB Outfit Colours

Mother of the bride dresses must not be the same colour as the bride's wedding dress, so, colours like white, off-white, champagne, ivory, and similar hues must be avoided. The dress should conform to the wedding colours. It can be in harmony with the bridesmaids’ colours or be a colour compliment to their dresses. So, if the bridesmaids wear lavender, the mother of the bride can appear in deep purple or eggplant. If they wear powder blue, she can wear royal blue with powder blue accents/accessories. And if the bridesmaid colours are Gothic-style black cocktail dresses, the mother of the bride dress can wear silver or grey.

Formal Weddings

  • Black, charcoal, or silver grey.
  • Emerald green.
  • Rose or salmon
  • Aubergine
  • Wine (or burgundy)

Non-Themed Weddings

  • Red
  • Cobalt blue with gold and/or silver accents
  • Dark pastels
  • Mauve
  • Baby blue
  • Pink
  • Mint
  • Peach
  • Lavender

Informal and Casual Weddings

  • Rust with gold accents
  • Navy with blue or aquamarine accents
  • Multi-colours. These add personality to the bridal train colours with washed-out patterns that echo the bridal colours. For instance, when the bridesmaids wear pink, the mother of bride dress can be pink with splashes of green watercolour wash.
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Colours Not to Wear

  • White
  • Ivory
  • Champagne
  • Gold
  • Light Pastels
  • Metallic textiles


For women who love embellishments and other forms of ornamentation, it is good to steer clear of over-fancy and overtly embellished dresses. Dress adornment is fine if it doesn't compete for attention with the bride's wedding dress.


12 Useful Tips for Mothers of the Bride

If you are a soon-to-be mother of the bride, now that you have a general idea of what you can wear (or not wear), before you go shopping, here are 10 tips you may find helpful.

  1. Wear a floor-length gown if it's a formal wedding.
  2. Wear a short, calf-length dress, or pantsuit if it’s an informal wedding.
  3. Only choose colours that best suit the wedding theme and colour scheme.
  4. Only wear styles that compliment your silhouette, height, weight.
  5. If you have a good idea of what you like and how you wish to appear, share it with a designer or dressmaker who can help develop it.
  6. For inspiration and ideas, you can check wedding and bridal boards on Pinterest.
  7. Visit local bridal stores and check the bridesmaid's section. Some of their styles will make gorgeous mothers of the bride dresses or gowns.
  8. Visit online wedding stores and check the 'Special Occasion Dresses' tabs for inspiration and motivation.
  9. Gowns and other designs with lace, sequins, faux pearls, and Swarovski stones are beautiful but must be understated. You are not in competition with your daughter.
  10. Smart and youthful but conservative dress styles are quite trendy for MOBs.
  11. Dress stylishly but ensure you are frill-free.
  12. It is a very special occasion, so dress up more fashionably than you normally do.

Finally, pay special attention to the accents and your choice of accessories. Choose wisely, depending on your dress style, texture, and colour. They must not only be equally gorgeous, but they must also complement the dress, your skin tone, hair colour, and your personality.

Further Reading:

What Are the Duties of the Mother of the Bride?

Top Sewing Fabrics for the Fashion and Apparel Industry

Is there a secret to knowing the right dress to choose? Yes, sort of. Choosing the right dress style lies in knowing your body silhouette, height, and posture, and knowing what design fits your shape perfectly. The form and style of the dress are just as important as its fabric type, texture, colour, and choice of accessories that go with it. Having said that, remember, this is one of the most cherished days of your life. Live it!

© 2009 viryabo

Your Views Are Welcome

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on October 03, 2020:

Hello Kathy,

You can view some informal pant suits here - and some nice jumpsuits here - Hope you find something you like for the wedding. Best wishes.

Kathy alpaugh on October 01, 2020:

I’m looking for a petite informal pant suit for my daughters wedding because it’s outside on a hilltop I was wondering if you could help me? I wore a couture gown for my other daughter wedding and felt like a million dollars

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on February 28, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

Black wedding dresses were worn centuries ago in different cultures. In Europe, and some cultures still wear them today.

It was Queen Victoria who originally started the trend for wearing white bridal gowns.

Cheryl Lesley on August 12, 2018:

Black foe a wedding? I did not like the colors.

sonoda on January 15, 2012:

i like soooooooooooooo much

mother of a bride on November 30, 2011:

where can i buy this lilac dress and jacket

and price ??

motherbridedress on August 03, 2011:

beautiful ant hot

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on July 27, 2011:

Thanks guys, and thank you for visiting.


ournote2self on July 26, 2011:

Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

Mother of the Groom Dresses on June 21, 2011:

Wow! I see you have really taken time to research and provide good information about dresses for the Mother of the Bride and Groom. Thanks for sharing.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on June 10, 2011:

Hi Thelma,

Philippine style outfit designs truly look wonderful because asides being chic and stylish, their designers pay much attention to detail.

For sure you have chosen a great mother of the bride dress.

I can assure you that you wont look overdressed, but will look the part you play, one that will make your son proud. everyone wants a stylish mother.

Thanks for the visit Thelma. Glad you like the article.

GodBless and goodluck.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 06, 2011:

Hi! This hub is great. My son is getting married this end of the month and I was excited looking for a dress to wear. Now I have choosen a chic Filipina dress from the Philippines with laces and I hope I´m not over dress on the wedding. I don´t like to shine more than the bride. Thanks for sharing.

linen-fabric from Belarus on November 08, 2010:

Nice hat - I'm going to give it a try.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on September 28, 2010:

Thank you Rebekah. For your visit and very nice comments. From a great hubber as you, i appreciate your views.

I'm so excited for you for the coming wedding. It will definitely be your day to shine.

Best wishes for that important day.


rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on September 27, 2010:

very nice. I like your selections and advice. the frumpy dresses do not ever belong at a wedding! my oldest son is getting married this Nov. and I'm so excited. the dress is beautiful, in fact the bride to be helped me choose the perfect one! I love your hubs. they're very well done and so chic. [I think something also important to remember is the location and formality of the reception.]

Wedding Planning Bay Area on August 26, 2010:

Very nice dresses, good photos.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on April 04, 2010:

Thanks Neil.

And thanks for finding the time to leave a comment.


George Poe from United Kingdom on April 04, 2010:

Excellent !!! Love it..

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on July 16, 2009:

Thank you so much, Mother of the bride outfits, for reading my hub, for your nice comments, and for your advice which i'm following now.

Mother of the Bride Outfits on July 16, 2009:

Some absolutely stunning Mother of the Bride outfits here. Unfortunately the main picture is too blurred to enjoy, but one still gets the idea and it is lovely.

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