Oh, momma!

There seems to be some rule floating around that says the mother of the bride, no matter what her age or figure, must dress in some pastel colored dowdy get-up that makes her look like a body double on a Golden Girls set. I see such things for sale all the time on re-sale sites. These mammas, hopefully realizing their mistake before the wedding, advertise things like POWDER BLUE, SEQUINED SUIT DRESS and PATCHWORK CHIFFON CREAM/LAVENDAR LACE GOWN. Always, they are boxy and unflattering. Almost always there is some sort of jacket involved.

This look does not say to me, “My little girl is getting married today and OHMIGOD I could just die!”

Old mom

Now, I know one should not outshine one’s daughter on her wedding day, but come on. Respectable does not have to mean entirely reserved. Maybe I’m too progressive on this one. But I see no reason at all a Mother of the Bride Dress can’t look like this one, from Mon Cheri Bridal. You could even put a jacket over it.

Hot mama!

14 Responses to “Oh, momma!”

  1. Sarah Brabazon-Biggar says:

    Thinking of all the lovely MoTBs I’ve known and seen, I honestly think that last dress would only work if it was the wedding of a child bride. I prefer the nice blue one.

  2. Lori says:

    The blue outfit looks very respectable, but it reminds me of a shower curtain. The gold dress is magnificent, but I’d want my mom to wear something a little less slinky to a wedding. (A lot of MOBs don’t have the triceps for the sleeveless look, anyway.) I don’t see why the MOB can’t wear a classic, feminine suit that she may already have in her closet. A suit with a pencil skirt and tailored jacket on a shapely MOB shouldn’t look dowdy.

  3. Annalucia says:

    These dresses, they are very nice for the mother of the bride who still retains a youthful figure. Those of us who have not (and at the time of her eldest daughter’s wedding three years ago, the Annalucia was a size 18) will have to lower their sights somewhat. The Annalucia found a plain-but-not-dowdy dress in teal green at the Marshall Fields and was pleased with it until she saw herself in the wedding photos afterwards. She looked like the large teal bovine; so she immediately went on the Diet of Atkins and eventually took off twenty pounds. She is now a size 14 and is debating whether to give the dress to the Salvation Army or to have it taken in and save it for the wedding of another child (not that any such is on the horizon at the moment.)

    The Annalucia, BTW, does not do pastels. Not for anything. They give her the appearance of the sufferer of severe jaundice.

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    There are the obvious difficulties: size, tone, self-confidence to name a few.

    I am now on a quest to locate respectable but also highly attractive and fashionable MOB dresses. My own mamon would look HOT in the second dress, but I understand that not all moms have time for triathalon training.

    Lori, I do think a classic tailored suit such as one might find an heiress in a 1950’s film wearing would do nicely. But the sorts of things passing for the “classic suit” for the MOB are often more like the shower curtain. Or the hippie beaded door covering! Too many beads! Too many ruffles!

    Perhaps there should be a league of dressmakers who could found a business that made only custom, classy, gorgeous (and non-frumpy) MOB-wear?

  5. Lori says:

    This suit — http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/catalog/prod.jhtml?itemId=prod26550007&parentId=cat5010731&masterId=cat4680731&index=33&cmCat=

    from Neiman Marcus isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it looks terrific, and the MOB should be able to wear it on many occasions.

  6. Margie says:

    I recently sang at a wedding where the mother of the bride was wearing something similar to the gold dress shown here, strapless pale gold, but with a full princess skirt. The photographer started filming her walking down the aisle before he realised that he was filming the mother, not the bride.
    I don’t have anything against a stylish mother of the bride outfit but it should be at least clearly distinguishable from the bride..

  7. La BellaDonna says:

    Aaaaaaggghhhhhh! This brings to mind an evening of complete anguish and horror for La BellaDonna. In the Not Too Distant Past (2002), the beloved Older Brother of La BellaDonna was married, for the first time, at the age of 46; an event desired by OB for many years, but which we had all given up hope for, as there seemed to be no one who appreciated the wonderfulness of OB. Flash back a year, to the engagement; in the enthusiasm of the moment, La BellaDonna offered to make the wedding gown for the Wonderful Bride. The WB had a gown that was breathtaking, and she looked magical.

    I did not. Due to the vagaries of a cruel universe, I wound up making two wedding gowns for two brides who were getting married on the same day – and both gowns were gifts of love. I no longer speak to the other bride; she was a Bad Bride.

    However, since I was sewing like a maniac for two other women, I had no time to sew for myself, nor to shop. It is very, very hard to find anything in navy blue in August. Or September. (The weddings were in October.) I found something I considered barely adequate, and altered it to fit properly.

    To my horror, on the day of the wedding, I found the bride’s mother and I were wearing the same dress. Oh, sure, hers was in burgundy, mine was in navy; she had a short, sheer matching jacket, and mine was calf-length; mine had beading, hers didn’t. My neckline was scoop, hers was jewel. But it was still the same goddamn dress. Did I mention that the bride is 15 years younger than I am? The fact that the shoes I wore (which used to be comfortable!) hurt my feet horribly, and my beloved was called in for an emergency that day, and could not attend, just made it Perfect All Around. :PPP

  8. Tania says:

    LaBellaDonna, truly, the situation you describe is faux-pas-riffic. Wearing the same dress as the MOB!

    I agree that the poor MOB gets some truly regrettable sartorial options thrown her way. But I also agree that only the slinkiest Desperate Housewife shaped MOBs can get away with form-fitting strapless numbers. Therein lies the trouble: the need to look glam and the need to camouflage. There is very little glamouflage to be had in today’s formalwear market.

    Because I, being of various postcolonial mishmashed ethnicities, had the option of dressing my mother in something other than a shower-curtain horror of shoulderpads and lace overlays, I took advantage of my heritage and put my dear mom in a traditional red Chinese 2-piece qipao tailored to fit her, which covered her up to the neck, down to the wrists, and down the ankles, but still managed to look sleek and chic without exposing her 50-something-year-old upper arms to the four winds. (My bridesmaids too were in qipaos, but my mother was in a complementary but more dramatic fabric. She also had a corsage the size of her head.)

    Then I tackled my MIL-to-be, who was of mixed Northern European extraction, and on the Plus size side. The very Plus size side. To her own daughter’s wedding, she had worn a dress very similar to the blue one that Never teh Bride gives us as a cautionary tale. I needed to take aggressive action. I watched some Chinese soap operas, then proposed to her a hand-embroidered, roomy, knee-length red silk tunic, again tailored to measure, over black silk trousers. She was so excited to wear pants, she could not stop talking about anything else for the entire wedding, and happily told everyone, “I am dressed as the evil Chinese mother in law from a soap opera.” She looked smashing.

  9. gidget bananas says:

    “glamouflage” Thank you Tania! Now I know what to call that dress I cannot find . . .

  10. Phia says:

    My mother has sworn that in the event any of us try to force her into a sea foam MOtB outfit she’s going to wear it with massive combat boots. 😀

  11. Brittany says:

    Have you ever seen “The Other Sister”? When the first sister (Caroline, I think? Or is she the lesbian?) gets married, Diane Keaton wears this great MOtB dress. It’s mature but not dowdy and I think, pretty decent. I mean, it’s no Mon Cheri bridal dress (which I can’t imagine my mother wearing to my wedding) but it’s good for what it is. At least it’s not a floral bag and it actually fits the wearer (fits, rather than covers in a shapeless beaded sack).

  12. Karen says:

    The second dress is completely inappropriate for the 90+% of weddings that are not black tie. Plus it is (as most have noted) entirely age-inappropriate. And why would the MOtB want to look sexier than her daughter? That reeks of MOtB self-importance.

  13. Never teh Bride says:

    Hmmm, perhaps a post on the self-important, pushy MOtBs is in order!

  14. reese says:

    Coming from someone whose mother tries to consistently show her up, I would much rather prefer my mom in dress #1. Karen nailed it on the head…the MOB shouldn’t be trying to look sexier than her daughter.

    Hear, hear….a post on MOBs who try to outshine their daughters is VERY much in order. 😉