Buying a Dress for the Mother of the Bride

 Are you struggling to find the right dress for your daughter’s wedding?  You are not alone!

This is a picture of a 1920s wedding with the caption, The MOB' is the one dressed in lime green'.
The MOB is the one dressed in the lime green dress!

When my daughter announced that she was engaged, an awful realisation dawned: I was going to be the Mother of the Bride. In my experience, the role of Mother of Bride (or MOB, as I like to think of her) is far from glamorous. Somewhere, in the annals of wedding etiquette, it apparently states that the MOB must both physically uncomfortable (think pinching heels/an outfit so restrictive that it requires a military operation to go the loo) and recognisable from a huge distance. Ever worn lurid yellow, heavily-ruched sateen before? No? Today’s the day.


This was not me. I am inclined to drift through life swathed in black, occasionally branching out into navy if I am feeling particularly jovial. If I didn’t want to play the pantomime dame to my daughter’s Cinderella, I would have to armour myself by finding an outfit that made me look and feel as elegant and stylish as possible. I grabbed my iPad and began my search in earnest.

But here lies the problem: the retail industry is in on it.

When you are the mother of the bride try hard not to look like you are disguised as a Christmas tree!
The mother of the bride should look stylish and elegant!


The internet is awash with bright, shiny things for the prospective MOB. Browsing online, I was struck by the sheer over-the-topness of the outfits. Never, in my most terrifying nightmares, had I imagined myself dressed in such colours. They made my eyes itch. And it wasn’t just the startling lime greens and fluorescent oranges that tripped my internal alarm system.

Surely I cannot be the only woman who avoids shiny fabrics because of their knack of highlighting every last bit of fat and emphasising my, usually carefully disguised, wobbly bits? In seemingly every photo the models (who were none of them, you will be unsurprised to learn, anywhere near old enough to be mothers let alone mothers of brides) sparkled and shone. They had bows and glistening buttons, lace, ruched velvet, swathes of satin and even though the models were young and beautiful, the outfits they were wearing, far from enhancing their beauty, seemed to mask it. It began to dawn on me that trying to find a dress that made me look elegant and stylish, was way too ambitious; finding something that didn’t make me look like I was disguising myself as a Christmas tree, would be challenge enough.

My experience in an actual MOB shop wasn’t any better. I tried on an enormous number of dresses.  It didn’t matter what size they said they were, they didn’t fit.  They were way too short and were designed for the sort of cleavage into which you could stash a small dog should the need arise.  The psychological trauma of it all got the better of me; I bought a fuchsia pink satin blouse (it was nowhere near long enough to be described as a dress).  It still hangs in my wardrobe untouched

Obviously, I didn’t wear it to the wedding. My daughter would have disowned me.  Instead I went to a classy high street shop where women of many heights and bust measurements are accommodated. The dress I wore to my daughter’s wedding was an inconspicuous navy, with cream polka dots to demonstrate that I was feeling celebratory.  As I left the shop, I thought that all I needed now was a hat. I smiled: that would be easy!

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