While the trend has its roots in commercial wedding fashion, the Mother of the Bride (MOB) gown has become a staple fashion piece in traditional weddings. These gowns first started appearing around the 1940s when department stores like Macy’s began to carry a collection of wedding gowns that most closely resemble modern wedding attire. Prior to this commercial introduction, bridal gowns varied widely based on social class–and white wasn’t even the most common colour.
As far as style goes, navy blue is the most common choice for a dark-coloured gown and a soft champagne colour is the most common choice for a lighter tone. Proper MOB gowns are full-length, formal, and modest. Many styles come with intricately detailed lace tops or two-piece gowns with lace jackets. And for a MOB who wants to remain youthful and avoid any styles that might appear to age her, a modest A-line gown with an off-the-shoulder top can provide just the right amount of modesty.
Popular Styles for Mother of the Bride Gowns
The mother of the bride’s gowns should match the formality of the wedding. For traditional, full-formal affairs, we love the idea of putting mom in a ballgown or a modest off-the-shoulder look. And for the ladies who want a little more flair without upstaging their brides, a non-traditional high-low cut gown with modest details works best.
A ballgown is a formal dress that features a fitted torso, low neckline, and full skirt. When a ballgown style is used for a MOB gown, we recommend keeping a close eye on the neckline to keep the style appropriate.
These gowns can feature a variety of cuts, but the most common for a MOB gown is a simple A-line silhouette. Fitted dresses should feature modest detail and just the right amount of drape. The mother of the bride should embrace her femininity but we don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention with seductive silhouettes. The one thing all of these dresses have in common is an off-the-shoulder neckline which provides just enough interesting detail to set the dress apart.
High-Low Cut Gowns
Asymmetrical hems signal a more modern design trend in formal wear. These gowns can be very appropriate for a mother who wants to feel youthful and fashionable without overshadowing the bride. We especially love a high-low-cut hemline paired with a modest neckline.
Trendy Patterns for the Mother of the Bride
When it comes to formal affairs and patterns, specific floral patterns are really the only thing that works. If you’re dressing a mother of the bride for a spring wedding, then a beautiful floral gown can be just the right amount of a style statement that adds a little pizzazz to the wedding party.
The Best Materials for MOB Gowns
Almost any traditional material for formal gowns is also appropriate for a mother of the bride gown. However, you will likely find much more detail on these gowns compared to other types of formal gowns. Lace, beading, and embroidery all seem to be exceedingly popular for the mother of the bride.
The MOB gown is commonly featured in a variety of neutral shades, relying on embellishments to provide the biggest impact for elegance. Beading, or adding a little glitz by sewing tiny glass beads onto the bodice of a gown is a classic embellishment choice for the mother of the bride.
For accents that offer a little more shine, sequins can be used in a similar manner by sewing them onto the bodice of a gown.
Popular Colors for the Mother of the Bride
As with any formal occasion, the season will play a big part in the colour selection for the whole affair and the MOB gown is no exception. Next to that, the bride’s selection of colours for the wedding will dictate an acceptable colour palette. This leaves the mother with a narrow selection of colour options for her gown.
The most popular colour palettes are:
- Jewel Tones
- Rose Gold & Other Metallics
Pastels are almost exclusively worn for spring weddings. In fact, spring provides the perfect opportunity for the mother of the bride to pair a pastel colour palette with a large floral print for something that is just a little different. This works best when the bridesmaids are wearing a pastel colour like lavender.
Neutrals work year-round and are an easy fit into most wedding colour schemes. For winter weddings, choose navy as your neutral and for warmer weather go with a nude colour. One of the most classic MOB gown styles is a nude or champagne-coloured two-piece gown with detailed lacework, embroidery, or beading on the cape.
Summertime can be a great excuse to go a little more bold with jewel tones like deep pinks, teals, and bold purple hues. These vibrant jewel-toned colours generally speak for themselves and need very little embellishment.
For fall weddings, ditch the traditional humdrum of deep reds and yellows and go for something metallic instead. Rose gold is one of those metallic hues that are soft, feminine, and elegant. Metallic shades like rose gold pair well with a little shimmer so consider adding detail with a glittered fabric or a little sparkle to your sheer sleeves.
Sleeve Options for the Mother of the Bride
A mother of the bride gown does not require sleeves–but many women, especially as they get older, appreciate a little extra coverage. You’ll find hundreds of styles that offer everything from cap sleeves to full-length sheer sleeves. And, you’ll find plenty of styles that offer no sleeves at all. And, it’s all perfectly okay. When it comes to choosing an appropriate mother of the bride gown, there are many different ways to balance her feminine beauty with age-appropriate modesty that compliments the bride.
Final Thoughts on Mother of the Bride Fashion
The mother of the bride (and often the mother of the groom) are important part of the bridal party. The wedding is often as much about these women giving away their babies as it is for the couple who are coming together in the union of marriage. And, therefore, it is only fitting that these ladies are decorated and celebrated with full formal fashion, wearing something that is a little more than a typical gown.
Jonah Levine is the Creative Director of NewYorkDress.com. NewYorkDress.com, established in 2008, is the #1 online source for Evening and Prom dresses worldwide. As Creative Director, Jonah works to create the ultimate online and in-store luxury shopping experience with a focus on service and personalization.