Style-savvy moms of the bride find fashion liberation
The acronym MOB used to spell fashion misery for the mother of the bride. Shopping for her gown wasn’t exactly a treasured occasion.
But the days of mothers mercilessly swathed in polyester tunic jackets and long skirts are blissfully over. Designers know that today’s mother of the bride — or groom — is oftentimes in great shape and has style smarts to boot. Since so many women are staying in great shape at all ages of their life, they are no longer restricted to choosing gowns strictly designed for “mothers,” but can choose from the collections of high-end designers.
If moms can channel Meryl Streep’s sassy and sexy character in the movie, “Mamma Mia!” as she prepares for her daughter’s nuptials on a Greek island, then they will have a quintessential example of just how youthful, pretty and vibrant a mother-of-the-bride can be.
It’s OK for MOBs to radiate a little sexiness, said Carlos Ramirez, who designs couture bridal and evening wear collections for Liancarlo. “Women go to the gym and they work out,” he said, adding the last thing they want to do is look frumpy at their daughter’s wedding.
“There is a feeling of empowerment when you feel a little sexy. You feel more confident,” noted Leigh Price, lead designer for the Stephen Yearick andYSA Makino collections.
Maria Prince,VP of Dallas-basedWatters, said there are many ways for a mother to elegantly showcase her best features. A sculpted neckline can tastefully show off an attractive bust line, for instance, while a sleeveless gown emphasizes toned arms. Backless gowns are another way for women to show a little skin as they walk down a fashion-forward aisle.
Ultimately, though, it’s important for moms to pay attention to their inner fashion voices. “Now is not the time to step out and take center stage in a cut-to-there gown if you are normally the tailored type,” Prince explained.
Ready-to-wear apparel has had a tremendous impact on the fresh direction mother-of-thebride dressing has taken, said Kimberly Minor, general merchandising manager for Priscilla of Boston. “The dresses are wearable — fun yet fancy — and are subtly sexy. The dresses are for the mom who is young in attitude and spirit.”
Lela Rose, who designs bridal gowns as well as ready-to-wear collections, said she likes to see mothers of the brides dressed in more fashionforward ensembles — that means none of the the long chiffon sleeves, empire waistlines and heavily jewel-encrusted bodices that once were the hallmarks of MOB attire. She also had this advice for mothers: Select a dress that makes you feel good and look good. “Don’t let the gravity of the occasion make you nervous,” she added. “Don’t lose sight of your own style. Make it ‘you,’ but a little more glamorous.”
And if mom’s figure is not perfect, rest assured there are many fabrics and treatments that can steer the eye away from flaws and toward her assets. “Ruching, draping and fabrics with a bit of structure are ideal for concealing figure imperfections,” Prince said. “For example, a draped Bodice in douppioni silk gives the appearance of a small waistline, while the structure of the douppioni hides any bumps or lumps.”
Stoles and shrugs are splendid ways to hide any upper-arm insecurities and draw attention toward the face. “Along with styling, a good fit is key to making the most of any figure,” Prince said. “Never skimp when it comes to alterations; your tailor can be as important as your trainer.”
Naturally, the time of day the ceremony will take place and the degree of formality will help guide mothers to the appropriate look. “An outdoor afternoon wedding may call for a soft and light chiffon dress or a crisp douppioni silk twopiece ensemble,” Prince said, while a floor-length satin gown with a hint of beaded embellishment would be a lovely choice for an evening soiree.
“Remember, the day is about the bride, so choose a dress that complements her and allows her to stand out,” Minor emphasized.
Other etiquette rules to know: Mothers of the bride should not wear white or the same colors as the bridesmaids. And, Rose, said, a mom should wait until the bride has selected her gown because the bride’s gown sets the tone for the event’s apparel when it comes to style and degree of formality.
Ramirez said the mom’s gown’s color is important for the photos. “You don’t want a color that shouts out, but rather one that enhances the wedding-party color theme.”
— ROBIN McMACKEN Special Advertising Sections Writer
* PHOTO: Varying shades of gold organza tiers create an ombré effect in a Stephen Yearick gown.