Roundup: Mother of the Bride Dresses

Classy, yet sassy!

Stylish Mother of the Bride Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Love Kimono Midi Dress with Tie Waist, from ASOS ($75)

We’ve been planning on putting together a hip Mother of The Bride roundup (to go with our Hip Flower Girl Roundup) for a few months now. But the problem is, no one on the APW staff is old enough to be a Mother of The Bride (or Groom, as perhaps I one day will be). And while we’re not too bad at dressing twenty and thirty year olds (or hell, tiny children), we have no business dressing grown-ass ladies. So, we came to our senses, and asked the best in the business, Lisa of Privilege, who happens to be a talented mid-life style blogger with a bit of edge. In real life, Lisa is always showing up to juggle my baby in some casually thrown together outfit that I would obviously kill for—T-shirt of an artfully hip children’s book drawing with a leather jacket and perfect jeans, say. Or she’s getting married in an artfully re-constructed wedding dress that can’t even be properly captured on film. In short, if there is anyone your Mama should listen to, it’s Lisa. Actually, we probably should all listen to her. So without further ado, some problem solving, in the form of fashion.

You might ask yourself, why is there even such a category as Mother Of The Bride? Your mom is a smart lady, with some style sense to boot. She can handle this. And then she starts to look. Doesn’t want to wear black, she’s not in mourning. She can’t and really wouldn’t wear white, and red feels a little showy. That axes fifty percent of her options.

Now add a) she feels inappropriate showing her knees b) thinks her cleavage is not the point of your wedding c) admires but may not emulate Michelle Obama’s upper arms. You’re down to nubs and grits. Oh, what’s that you say? Mom doesn’t want to spend more than $250, less is better? She won’t even look at a lace bolero? Righty-oh.

Ever resourceful APW has a few ideas.

(Apologies for the models all being approximately twenty-one. We do what we can. The rest takes imagination.)Roundup: Short & Stylish Mother of the Bride Dresses | A Practical WeddingSHORT: 1. Lace Flounce Dress by Teri Jon, from Saks Off Fifth ($189) 2. Silk Leaf Print Dress by Marc Cain, from TJMaxx ($129) 3. Pencil Dress with Knot Front and Batwing Sleeves from ASOS ($84) 4. Pleated Shoulder Wrap Dress by Badgley Mischka, from Saks Off Fifth ($209) 5. Tiered Lace Dress by Marina, from Nordstrom ($129) 6. Pretty Scallop Lace Midi Dress from ASOS ($103) 7. Lace Mix Midi Dress from ASOS ($85)

Roundup: Long & Stylish Mother of the Bride Dresses | A Practical WeddingLONG: 1. Sequin Surplice Gown by Badgley Mischka, from Saks Off Fifth ($293) 2. Lace Bodice Gown by Kay Unger, from Saks Fifth Avenue ($259) 3. Cap Sleeve Open Back Evening Gown by JS Collections, from JC Penney ($248) 4. Boat Neck Cap Sleeve Gown by Ralph Lauren, from Bloomingdale’s ($132) 5. One Should Sequined Gown by Kay Unger, from TJMaxx ($149) 6. Three-Quarter Sleeve Satin Skirt by JS Collections, from JC Penney ($159)

Even More Dresses! 1. Alex Evenings Satin Taffeta Dress from Dillards ($170) 2. Ruffled Faux Wrap Jersey Gown by Lauren Ralph Lauren, from Macy’s ($119) 3. Long-Sleeved Sequined Surplice-Neck Gown by Lauren Ralph Lauren, from Macy’s ($160) 4. Beaded Neckline Gown by Laundry By Shelli Segal, from Bloomingdale’s ($109) 5. Long Sleeve Abstract Print Charmeuse Dress, by Rachel Roy, from Neiman Marcus Last Call ($206)

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  • emilyg25

    This is awesome. We had a backyard barbecue wedding, so my mom wanted something a little more on the casual side. After a dress search that was much longer and more harrowing than mine, she found a teal lace fit-and-flare dress at Macy’s. It really took her out of her comfort zone, because she hates showing her legs or arms and it was above the knee and sleeveless! But she looked so pretty, and I was so proud of her confidence.

  • Eh

    My MIL had a fun time shopping for a dress for our wedding. My BIL was married the year befoe and my FIL questioned why she couldn’t where the same dress (obvious reasons like different season – summer vs fall – and different colour scheme weren’t convincing him that it was worth the money). My MIL wore a dress like #2 in the long category. She is very short and it was way too long for her so she was going to have it altered so it didn’t drag on the ground. But in the end she decided to make it even shorter. It looked really good on her.

  • I’m not the point of this post, but I would wear the last three in that short category in a heartbeat. #5 was my wedding dress!

  • If your mom is looking for something a bit more casual, Boden has a bunch of very pretty options. The dresses are more modest than a lot of stuff out there, they come in fun solids and patterns, and you can usually find a 15% off coupon on RetailMeNot. I’m personally eyeing this adorable dress for myself #taxreturnftw

    • Amy M.

      LOVE Boden. And I saw them on Art of Simple’s Ethical Shopping Guide a few months back, which made me even more proud to wear their clothes! (But only when they are on sale, and I frequently buy when they are having end-of-season clearance.) Cute clothes not made with questionable labor practices? Yes please :-)

      • I didn’t know about their labor practices, so that is awesome to hear! And yesyesYES on the clearance stuff there–the regular priced items are a leeetle expensive for me if I’m not getting something for a special occasion (I’m usually not), but almost everything seems to go on sale. I got this great little jacket right after Christmas at a reasonable price, and I completely adore it.

  • Lindsey d.

    My mother’s response to all of the short dresses would be “Not bad, but I can I dance in it?” And I think that only applies to Short 1 & 6. I personally love Long 1 – 5. Amazeballs, especially Long 2.

    • Meg Keene

      WHAAA? As an dedicated dancer, I could shake my ass in all of these. I mean, I guess I couldn’t go that LOW in short #4 without pulling up my skirt, but the others YES.

      • Lindsey d.

        Not enough twirl in the skirt, maybe? She definitely turned down lots of dresses similar to short 5 during her MOB dress search, because she didn’t think they were danceable in them… She’s not getting low, but she and my parents love to dip and twirl.

        • Alison O

          As a small child I STRONGLY preferred (maybe, at times, demanded…) wearing clothing that twirled. And I have scars on my knees as a souvenir of my black-patent-leather-shoes-and-frilly-socks-wearing-even-on-mossy-Oregon-sidewalks ways. What can I say, sometimes you have to sacrifice for style…

          • Ally

            Another Allison who (as a child) only approved of dresses that could twirl properly! I wore them with grey cowboy boots though… :/

        • Number 5 wouldn’t have worked for me to dance in. It stretches, but it’s pretty slinky, and it was low cut enough to be pretty when standing but raunchy when shaking one’s ass.

      • Dom

        Could be a height issue. Knee length on a 5’5″ is actually knee length and twirlable. “Knee length” on someone 5’9″ or taller? Sway in place dancing. Hurray for dresses that have hems with hidden extra material!

  • MC

    Woah, I’m pretty sure for my SIL’s wedding, my MIL wore the exact same dress as long #6. It did look great!

  • Ella

    HA. My step-mother-in-law bought #5 in the short dress line-up. It’s really adorable and looks great on every age without making anyone feel too old or too young. It’s a dress I could wear as easily as she could. Unfortunately it didn’t quite come in her size, so she opted to get another dress instead of getting it altered. But I can attest that it’s really cute in person.

  • socallmeshirley

    Love this roundup. My mother just bought that short lace dress (#5) for my wedding, but in black. She wears almost exclusively black (and looks great in it), but she was concerned it would look like she was in mourning. I figured she should wear what she likes and since she loves wearing black, why fix what ain’t broken?

  • Jenni

    The three I clicked on are sold out. :-( Gonna send this to my mom anyway, just as an idea/inspiration thing.

  • Lisa

    Sounds like you guys have really cool moms. Not at all surprised!

  • Amy M.

    This is SO timely, as my mom is coming in this weekend and part of the visit will be dedicated to shopping for her dress. I think she wants to buy from a brick-and-mortar store instead of online, but I’m going to send this article to her to see what she’s looking for. Thank you APW!!

  • Beth R

    My mom ended up with this dress: It looks pretty short in the picture, but so is she so it ended up coming to just below her knees.

  • Laura C

    Well, this is perfect timing. As usual, APW knows just what we need to talk about.

    #4 long is very similar to my mom’s fallback dress, actually.

  • This is such a great post! My mom had more trouble finding a dress last summer for my wedding than I did looking for a wedding dress. Seriously, what is with the MOB dresses the big box bridal stores offer? They need to get with the times!

    Funnily enough, my mom actually ended up with short #5 and looked fabulous, so clearly this list is spot-on.

    • Alison O

      My mom has short #5, too! Got it for someone else’s wedding though. Guess it’s a winner.

      • Lindsay Rae

        My mom wore short #5 to our engagement party!

  • Casey

    I love this, what a great resource! My mom had such a hard time finding a dress – she is super stylish and fit but all the traditional MOB dresses were very formal and matronly. She ended up settling for one she didn’t really like because she just got frustrated of searching, poor thing.

  • Ally

    My mom and MIL had several phone calls during their searches and I think my mom bought and returned about a dozen before finally settling on one. Somehow despite multiple calls discussing length, color, style, etc. they didn’t realize that they were perfectly coordinated until they were seated at the ceremony.

    The dresses were the same two fabrics but in different combinations. This was the dress my mom wore: My MIL’s version was a sleeveless dress in the lace fabric with a 3/4 sleeve jacket in the satin fabric. They looked so cute and coordinated. My friends and I loved it.

  • Rachel

    A great, albeit more expensive, option is Siri. They have really tasteful MOB dresses that you can customize by color and fabric, and select a top to go with whatever bottom you’d like. My mom looks great and really loves hers – she ended up ordering one for the rehearsal dinner too!

    • Lisa

      Yes, I love their stuff too.

  • Lisa

    I need to mention here that the Outnet has their clearance sale on as of today. Killer dresses, 80% off. That means someone’s mom might actually be able to wear Oscar de la Renta, if she so chose:).