Wedding guest fashion: ‘The modern mother of the bride looks younger than ever’

Ice blue boat collar dress in pale silver crepe satin, by Ian Stuart from Ragdoll of Pudsey.
Ice blue boat collar dress in pale silver crepe satin, by Ian Stuart from Ragdoll of Pudsey.
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The mother of the bride or groom has a tough job when it comes to choosing an outfit. Stephanie Smith finds advice from Yorkshire experts.

Many mothers of the bride or groom make the mistake of dressing up for the big day as if they have suddenly transformed into a different person.

Trouser suit by John Charles at Ragdoll of Pudsey.

Trouser suit by John Charles at Ragdoll of Pudsey.

“Be yourself,” says Jenny Roberts, a milliner in Harrogate with years of experience in helping mums through this sartorial challenge. “Go for a dress which speaks of your style and look, not what you perceive a mother of the bride or groom to look like,” she says. “Your outfit should make you feel confident, comfortable and special, and reflect your personality.”

Be timeless, too, she adds. “You don’t need to overcomplicate your look. Go for an outfit which will look great on photos, a colour which enhances your own skin tone, and a shape which shows off your best features and hides those less favourable.”

Not all MoBs or MoGs might want to wear a hat, but it is a special occasion and this can be a way of instilling confidence, pulling your outfit together with panache and polish, and ensuring that you stand out.

“The right hat size can make the most of what you have, balance curves, or ensure that you are wearing the hat, not the hat is wearing you. The colour should make your complexion sparkle. Different shapes can either elongate or shorten your body shape as you wish. The style should detract from facial features you want to hide and make the most of the ones you want to draw attention to.”

This cool and elegant outfit is from Helen Sykes (Fashions) of Leeds.

This cool and elegant outfit is from Helen Sykes (Fashions) of Leeds.

The trim, she points out, should enhance your outfit and can bring a plain dress to life or tone down a busy outfit.. “Your hair should complement, not compete, so give serious consideration to minimising your hair in order to show off the elegance of your neck line. Similarly, don’t overdo statement jewellery - less is more.”

As a family-run independent designer fashion shop, Ragdoll of Pudsey has been dressing mothers of the bride and groom since 1976, and has seen trends come and go. Co-partner Michelle Pratt says: “More trouser suits are coming through, which is nice because there haven’t been any for a long time.” She adds that these tend to be of the chiffony, floaty style in soft colours, although stronger colours are also available.

Simply looking at images in magazines and on social media is not enough, she says.

“They need to come into the shop because there are styles on the rails they will never have seen pictures of. We’re here to help.

Red kimono sleeve dress with dipped back hem, �179, from SS20 collection by James Steward.

Red kimono sleeve dress with dipped back hem, �179, from SS20 collection by James Steward.

“I wholeheartedly believe everybody knows when they put the right outfit on.”

For this autumn/winter and moving into 2020, neutral colours such as greys, taupes and metallics are a strong trend,” says Natalie Jackson of Helen Sykes Fashions, on Stanningley Road, Leeds.

“These soft tones complement any wedding colour scheme and always look expensive and elegant,” she says.

“Skirts are becoming softer and longer, and we are presenting more dresses with sleeves, although dress-and-jackets and dress-and-coats are still very in fashion for a mother of the bride or bridegroom.

Headpiece, buy �295, hire, �79, by Jenny Roberts Millinery at Cold Bath Place in Harrogate.

Headpiece, buy �295, hire, �79, by Jenny Roberts Millinery at Cold Bath Place in Harrogate.

“The overall style is more understated, with details such as pearlescent fabrics, unusual cuffs and shawl collar necklines or stand collars adding the glamour for a special occasion.”

Wetherby-based special occasion designer James Steward, run by James and his sister Hannah Moody, finds it helps to design for both the bride and the mother of the bride or groom.

“While it’s a big day for their daughter or son, it is often forgotten what a special day it is for the parents too,” says Hannah. “They certainly don’t want to clash with the bride’s dress or take any of the limelight away from her and also need to consider what type of wedding it is, the location and time of year.”

In the 20 years that James has been designing, there have been changes, she says. “The mother of the brides and grooms seem to be getting younger and do not want to wear that typical little jacket and dupion silk ruched detail dress. They seem to be looking for age-appropriate and timeless styles that would be suitable for occasions other than the wedding, so that they can get their wear out of them.”

For those with a winter wedding to dress for, Tadcaster-based Simply Devine Hats has launched a collection of special occasion hats with designs in felt and velvet with pheasant feathers, veiling and hand-painted quills. It includes pill box hatinators, which, due to the influence of the young royals, have increased in popularity in recent years, says designer Liz-Devine Wright.

READ MORE: Get the perfect wedding glow

Headpiece, buy �295, hire, �79, by Jenny Roberts Millinery at Cold Bath Place in Harrogate.

Headpiece, buy �295, hire, �79, by Jenny Roberts Millinery at Cold Bath Place in Harrogate.

Pillbox hat, �130, by Simply Devine in Tadcaster.

Pillbox hat, �130, by Simply Devine in Tadcaster.