The wedding of your son or daughter will be one of the most memorable events in your lifetime so naturally you want to look amazing. So before I even go into detail mother of the bride outfit ideas, I want to emphasize one important thing.

It is ok (perhaps even mandatory) to splurge on your outfit!

Don’t economize on your clothes for such an important event, even when you think that you will wear the outfit only once.

Of course, you may want to try to get an outfit that you can wear for other occasions as well, but if those outfits don’t make you feel as special as you want to, then just accept that you will need a good budget.

Believe me, it’s worth it. I know weddings the world over are different right now. It may be your loved one has to wait to get married, or the occasion will be smaller.

However, the memories of that day will still stay with you forever and you will always remember what you wear.

And then, there are the numerous photos of course. I have personally made the mistake of sticking to a low budget for a high-profile occasion and I still regret it today! I can assure you that I will never make that mistake again.

Ok, so now that I have this important point out of the way, let’s take a look at what you should wear.

What requirements does a mother of the bride / groom outfit have?

Weddings may be very different right now, depending on where you live. It could be that weddings aren’t allowed at the moment, but you are busy planning for one, or that they need to be smaller affairs. Whatever the situation, when you are able to attend a wedding, you’ll want to look your best.

Although dressing rules at weddings vary by country, in general a mother of the bride dress should:

  • Not be the same colour as the wedding dress. So check with the bride! Also find out which colour the bridesmaids are wearing. You do not want to be mistaken for one!
  • Preferably not be all black as that may suggest mourning. Although this is not a strict rule, I would personally prefer you to choose another color since most women over 40 look much better in more colorful outfits. An alternative is to mix black with another color, which can look very chic. I also like the other black and grey combination I feature (above), because of the great drape of the dress and the chic combination with the jacket.
  • Avoid flashy shades like bright red, pink or yellow as the dress may stand out too much. If you like to wear color, go for something more subtle like the multi-colored dress (above) I featured with the very stylish long purple coat. This combination is especially great for summer weddings.
  • Not be overly sexy. Avoid too much cleavage and let the bride be the sexiest girl in the room.
  • Offer solutions for multiple locations. If the wedding includes a church service for example, make sure that you have an accompanying jacket with your dress. Most of the combinations I feature here come with great jackets.
  • Not be too fashionable. Remember, you will look at these photos in years to come. Opt for something current yet timeless with clean lines. The two looks below are good examples of timeless style.
  • Be made of a good quality fabric. Make sure it does not wrinkle too much and is appropriately warm or cold for the climate in which the wedding takes place.

Other mother of the bride outfit guidelines:

  • Talk to the bride and ask her about her preferences. If she is casual about your dress, then you can just select whatever you please. But if she is sensitive about certain colors or gives you some guidelines, you may want to stick to that. She may even want to coordinate the color of your dress with those of the bridesmaids (let’s hope not!)
  • Even though you may want to take the bride’s and groom’s wishes into account, make sure you select something that YOU love too.
  • Don’t leave shopping for your special dress to chance. Plan well in advance, so you will not get too stressed and can help either your son or daughter with the wedding preparations.
  • Stick to your style personality as much as you can. If you normally like clean, plain clothing, don’t go over the top with sequins and diamonds. On the other hand if you like to be hip and enjoy pattern you could consider the featured modern black and white outfit (above).
  • Although it’s perfectly fine to wear pants at the wedding, nothing says party like as a dress. However, if a dress is totally out of your comfort zone, then choose a great pants and blazer combination in a luxurious fabric. There are ideas here on how to wear pants for the mother of the bride.

Here are some ideas for your outfits

Please note that fashion items sell out quickly so these may no longer be available in stores. They can still serve as inspiration though.

However, because wedding outfits are more timeless than other fashion items, you may well find that your favorite piece is still available!

Many stores, including Nordstrom have a dedicated mother-of-the-bride section.

Knee Length mother of the bride dresses

I love this knee length dress from Alex Evenings (below). The cowl neck adds some very subtle sex appeal, the ruching helps to hide any lumps and bumps and the 3D flowers add a feeling of luxury. It’s definitely suitable for a wedding, but you could also use for parties and events later in the year.

Alex Evenings cowl neck sheath dress

The ruching on the cocktail dress (below) creates a flattering effect that would look fabulous on most figures, making it a good mother of the bride outfit choice. Gold, black or navy shoes and accessories would look stylish.

Mother of the bride dresses - Chiara Boni La Petite Robe ruched cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe ruched cocktail dress

Another dress with ruching for you (below) as I think ruched styles are so flattering. This style comes in a good choice of colors from neutrals and pastels to brights.

Mother of the bride dresses - Alex Evenings side ruched cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings side ruched cocktail dress

midi

A below-the-knee style can be perfect for a wedding. The beaded detailing elevates this JS Collections dress (below), making it ideal for a special occasion. You can always add a wrap if you don’t want to show off your arms.

Mother of the bride dresses - JS Collections beaded sleeveless midi dress | 40plusstyle.com

JS Collections beaded sleeveless midi dress

The capelet dress (below) is ideal if you like to cover up your upper arms. The trumpet skirt adds curves.

Mother of the bride dresses - JS Collections chiffon capelet midi dress | 40plusstyle.com

JS Collections chiffon capelet midi dress

The sequin dress (below) would work for a wedding, but would also be ideal for your Christmas parties so you can get plenty of wear out of it.

Mother of the bride dresses - Pissaro Nights sequin & beaded cocktail sheath dress | 40plusstyle.com

Pissaro Nights sequin & beaded cocktail sheath dress

The beaded flowers down one side add a tactile touch of luxury to the column dress (below). They also create an elongating, slimming effect as they draw the eye up and down rather than across.

Mother of the bride outfits - JS Collections floral bead appliqué midi dress | 40plusstyle.com

JS Collections floral bead appliqué midi dress

Mother of the bridge dresses: Long and elegant

You could, of course, choose a maxi dress for your special occasion. The navy dress (below) gives the impression of separates but is actually a one-piece.

Mother of the bride dresses - Alex Evenings sequin lace & chiffon gown | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings sequin lace & chiffon gown

Do you have an evening wedding to attend? Then the Pissaro Nights gown (below) could be perfect. Reviewers describe it as very slimming and say the beadwork is exquisite. It does run large though, so you may want to size down.

Pissaro Nights embellished mesh gown | 40plusstyle.com

Pissaro Nights embellished mesh gown

Dress suit

Another option, particularly if you don’t want bare arms is to choose a dress suit. The look below is from Amazon and it comes in a huge choice of colors.

You could wear the full outfit for the wedding and then wear the jacket with pants or jeans for dinner occasions during the months to come.

Alex Evenings tea length button-front jacket dress | 40plusstyle.com | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings tea length button-front jacket dress

The two-piece (below) is another versatile choice for you. You could definitely wear the outer layer with other outfits after the wedding.

Le Bos embroidered 2-piece jacket dress | 40plusstyle.com

Le Bos embroidered 2-piece jacket dress

If you have a summer wedding to attend, the coral shade of the two-piece set (below) could be lovely. I would wear with silver or black shoes. The dress underneath is a sheath dress that could easily be dressed up or down for later occasions, and the cropped jacket would look fabulous worn with jeans.

Tahari ASL 2-piece sheath dress suit | 40plusstyle.com

Tahari ASL 2-piece sheath dress suit

Getting away with black

I know I said not to wear black, but I definitely think you can if you choose a black outfit which also incorporates another color. Or, you can always choose to add color with your accessories so a plain black dress doesn’t look funereal.

The beads of the midi cocktail dress (below) make it suitable for a wedding, and it also has three-quarter length sleeves if you prefer your arms to be covered.

JS Collections beaded midi cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

JS Collections beaded midi cocktail dress

Florals can sometimes be tricky to wear because they can look old-fashioned. However, the graphic styling of the flowers (below) gives the dress a modern look.

Donna Karan New York printed shift dress | 40plusstyle.com

Donna Karan New York printed shift dress

Summer mother of the bride dresses: Or A beach or garden wedding

Because beach and garden weddings tend to be less formal than weddings in other venues, you may want to take a look at florals or a happy print as an option for your dress.

The large florals (below) with the black background are particularly on trend and the ruching adds a flattering element.

Alex Evenings side ruched cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings side ruched cocktail dress

Another floral option for you (below), but this time in a fit and flare style. The large blooms add a touch of fun.

Kay Unger floral fit & flare belted midi dress | 40plusstyle.com

Kay Unger floral fit & flare belted midi dress

Mother of the bride dresses that hide a belly

Many of the options above would help you to hide a little bit of a tummy. If this is an area you aren’t confident about, the mock jacket dress below could be another good choice as the over jacket helps to disguise the midriff area.

Alex Evenings mock jacket midi dress | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings mock jacket midi dress

pant suit

Of course, you don’t have to wear a dress to a wedding. If you prefer to wear pants, there are plenty of stylish pants suit options like the formal poncho pants suit (below).

Reviewers say it is both comfy and stylish. If you are on the shorter side, you may have to think about getting the pants hemmed.

R&M Richards formal poncho pant suit | 40plusstyle.com

R&M Richards formal poncho pant suit

jumpsuit

A jumpsuit is another alternative to a dress. You could opt for a classic shade such as navy, or choose a summery color like the Eliza j ruched waist jumpsuit (below).

Eliza J ruched waist jumpsuit | 40plusstyle.com

Eliza J ruched waist jumpsuit

Another jumpsuit choice is the wide leg style (below). One reviewer said they wore a white jacket over the top but you could also choose a wrap or bolero.

Dessy Collection wide leg jumpsuit | 40plusstyle.com

Dessy Collection wide leg jumpsuit

an edgy option

Can’t decide between a dress and pants? Wear both. Kay Unger’s maxi romper (below) combines the look of a maxi dress with pants.

Kay Unger maxi romper | 40plusstyle.com

Kay Unger maxi romper

twinset

A twinset can have a “fuddy duddy” reputation, but it definitely doesn’t have to look old fashioned. You could combine the monochrome twinset (below) with white or black pants. Then you could wear as separates after the big event.

Alex Evenings twinset | 40plusstyle.com

Alex Evenings twinset

For a great selection of Mother of the Bride (and Groom) dresses, we recommend the following online (and brick and mortar) destinations with dedicated Mother of the Bride outfit sections:

shop all items above here:

What do you think is the perfect mother of the bride outfit?

Continue reading:

  1. The Best Mother Of The Bride Dresses – Take Your Pick From Shorter Or Longer Dresses
  2. The Best Dresses To Hide Your Tummy
  3. How To Choose The Perfect Little Black Dress For Your Body Type

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