Today we’re going to talk about what to wear if you’re the mother of the bride, or even if you’re just a wedding guest. Now, once upon a more traditional time, the mother of the bride wore muted colours, lots of chiffon, and an understated arms-covered silhouette. Basically, she disappeared and became a smiling prop in the wedding photos. Today, I don’t recognise this stereotype at any of the weddings I’ve been to. Modern mothers stay true to their own style and wear what makes them feel good and look fabulous. Also, most of the weddings I’ve been to in recent years haven’t been in a church. They’ve been on a beach, at a hotel, in a garden, or (like my own wedding) in a registry office, so there is more latitude in what counts as ‘appropriate’ in these venues. These days, no one reaches for the smelling salts if they see a bare shoulder or arm at a wedding. Thankfully, time has moved on and style has moved on with it.
Now with this in mind, I was given the chance by House of Fraser to choose and style anything I liked for a summer mother of the bride outfit. Personally, if I’m going to spend money on any ‘occasion dress’, I want something that I can wear many times. I want to invest in something that I love and will get lots of mileage out of. I don’t want it hanging in my closet gathering dust… I’ve got my wedding dress for that! Also, I want it to be a beautiful flattering colour, not the face-draining dusty mauves and pale greens of the past. The trickiest part is the fabric; it needs to be versatile. If it is too shiny or silky, it is limited to evening wear only. I didn’t want beadwork or embroidery or crystal clasps, again, because it is too limiting to work around these embellishments for re-styling purposes later. I wanted a dress to go as easily with a pair of heels as with a pair of flat sandals and a tote bag on holiday. The other thing I put on my mental checklist was I didn’t want anything to ‘fashiony’ with overly trendy details (no bell sleeves and no cut out shoulders). It might look okay this season, but a few years from now, it will look dated… not a wise investment. Instead, go classic. When in doubt, I always think to myself, WWGKD? (What Would Grace Kelly Do?). Grace never steers you wrong. This dress reminds me of THE blue dress she wore in To Catch A Thief, maybe one of the best dresses ever worn on screen.
I tried on about 10 dresses from the House of Fraser wedding boutique; all floor length/maxi dresses in summery jewel tones. Some could have been cut at the knee to make a cocktail dress for future wear, but I chose one that I’d have to do nothing to. The fabric is wrinkle-proof, which makes it good for destination weddings or warm holiday evenings. As soon as I put this dress on, I had that THIS IS IT fireworks moment that we all have with a dress that makes sense from a practical standpoint and also makes our hearts race. I couldn’t fault it on any level. I immediately saw this orchid purple colour with turquoise accessories, like I am wearing here; I love these two colours together.
Instead of turquoise, it would also look fantastic with orange, yellow, or hot pink as an accent colour. I could especially see the orchid and orange working well on someone with dark skin. Maybe in the winter it could benefit with some sparkly jewellery, but for a summer wedding I think the punchy bright contrast of two colours is more than enough.
The asymmetrical drape in the back would look right at home on a Greek island
Lamp post fascinator, the most unexpected accessory
Now that we’ve had our serious formal occasion, let’s see how this dress looks in other situations.
A summer party or a race event
I think it works equally well with flat sandals and a bright bag. Imagine it with the turquoise and wood beaded bracelet which I forgot to take out of my bag 🙂 A simple change of shoes and bag takes it directly from evening occasion wear to daytime maxi dress, which is exactly what I wanted. This is the perfect versatile all-rounder dress and a smart addition to my closet. I’ve linked to it online in the navy, but in House of Fraser stores it comes in other colours. I also found quite a few other excellent options in store, but once I saw this orchid purple one that could take me from a summer wedding to an evening party to Ile de Ré, I knew it was the one!
Thank you to House of Fraser for partnering on this post.