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Friday 18 May 2018

Find your perfect Mother of the Bride/Groom dress

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in a violet dress and lace shrug by Gina Bacconi for her step son's wedding

Shopping for a mother of the bride or groom outfit is a minefield. You want to look cool and contemporary, in an outfit that flatters. But too many dresses are sleeveless or in a fabric that clings.  And you don't want to go too mainstream in case someone else is wearing the same dress. Here are some tips on finding your best outfit.

I have two big weddings this summer, one for my niece and the other for my stepdaughter.  Above is what I wore in 2015 for my stepson's wedding: a violet dress with matching bolero in guipure lace from Gina Bacconi. This type of dress is perfect if you want to draw attention away from your arms. More tips for arm coverage below.

If you want something a bit more dramatic, Coast and Lavish Alice both have some great dresses and jumpsuits.  If you have the figure for a jumpsuit, why not? The pink one in the shopping guide would look sensational.

For my niece's wedding I have a Lavish Alice dress with draping over one arm.
Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in tangerine dress by Lavish Alice and sandals by Vionic

There are more pictures here. And I'm sure you've seen how wonderful Laurie from Vanity and Me looked in a Coast dress.

Bombshell dresses by Katya Wildman are wonderful for creating curves, as is Vivienne Westwood.

Find a dress at a lower cost

Unfortunately, like the bride, you may not wear your dress again. I didn't wear the violet number after the wedding. But a great way to save money, and avoid being seen in the same outfit as someone else, is to either go to a secondhand fashion shop or search at eBay for your favourite brands.

I found a great pre-loved Joseph Ribkoff dress at Suzanne Carillo's Etsy shop  plus a sleeveless one at eBay which I will wear with a bolero from Kettlewell. I may wear this one to my step daughter's wedding, which will be less formal. Frank Lyman is another Canadian designer worth checking out on eBay.

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in an eBay find: a Joseph Ribkoff dress and bolero by Kettlewell


A wedding can be a long day that doesn't end until the early hours of the morning. Stylish but comfortable sandals or shoes are vital. Vionic have some gorgeous sandals and wedges that belie the podiatrist-approved engineering that goes into them. Bunion sufferers can find some fabulous designs at Callas Shoes.

Bags for weddings can be fun. You only need a small clutch or embellished evening bag, and there are some brilliant buys at Accessorize and Asos. No need to break the bank.

There's a perception that hats or fascinators are compulsory for weddings. Not so, according to etiquette experts Debrett's. However, if you decide to wear a hat, they advise: "It is notoriously difficult to socially kiss while wearing a wide-brimmed hat. There is a knack to tilting the head at a suitable angle, but two ladies both in wide brimmed hats should avoid such an ‘intimate’ greeting."

My step daughter, who is having a rock n roll wedding, is adamant there should be no fascinators. Good news!!

The Matchy Matchy debate

One of the big questions is around being matchy matchy. Is it wrong to match your handbag and shoes?

On this one, I say it's totally up to you.  Ignore those who say they must look different. For my outfit in the picture at the top, I decided to go monochrome and have sandals and fascinator in the same colour as the dress. I did consider silver, but that would not have looked good on my blonde hair. It was a challenge at the time finding shoes in the right colour, but persevere online and you will find!

Ways to hide arms 

Boleros and shrugs, sometimes made of fur or feathers depending on the season, can add drama to your outfit while serving the purpose of providing arm coverage.  I'm not so keen on pashminas as they do look a bit dated. Crop cashmere cardigans are another good buy, particularly if you have a vintage style waisted dress. Boden and Pure Collection have a good selection.

Famous Mothers of the Bride/Groom

Resplendent in pale blue, Carole Middleton, mother of the bride, at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William
Carole Middleton at the wedding of her daughter Kate to Prince William

In pale blue and aqua, the Queen and the Queen Mother at the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer
The Queen with the Queen Mother at the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer 

The Princess Royal at the wedding of her daughter Zara Phillips 


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  1. Gail I absolutely adore you in the lemon dress. Its a great colour and shape.

    1. I felt sure originally it was a kind of tangerine colour. But then I saw several items in the same colour in M&S And the label said "yellow."

  2. I love the idea to get this dress on eBay or such....it's hard to spend a lot of money, if you think you'll only wear it once!!

  3. Thank you for this post. My daughter will have a big wedding celebration in June with 2 nights, following Afghani custom, of parties. I bought two sleeveless (what was I thinking?) dresses in April and have been lifting weights almost daily to get my arms in better shape for their reveal!! I don't know what to do about shoes. Wish you could come over and help me.

    That yellow-tangerine-lemon dress is superb. So chic and fits you like a glove. The green dress is one of my favorites because I love GREEN. And you look royal-wedding ready in your lilac ensemble. You and your own groom make such a handsome couple!

    1. Thanks dear Leslie! Could you wear a wedge or low block heel? I find they're do-able and nice styles can be found.

  4. That yellow dress is a total stunner - but the others are great too.

  5. That yellow dress is still my fave, I get heart flutters at the sight of it. And it must have inspired Amal Clooney - did she Style Steal you for her wedding outfit?! Hugs my dear, x.

    1. I like the idea of Amal stealing my style! Do you think she would let me borrow her hat? Hugs x

  6. There are so many great outfits in the shops that can be paired together and not look too matchy. Carole Middleton is a beautiful woman and i think the outfit above has just piled years on her. A dress code maybe? Thank you so much for the mention too Gail xx

  7. Love the yellow dress on you! I never wore the MOG dress from our oldest again... Our youngest is marrying in October, and when I saw a lace sleeved navy cocktail dress this spring, I jumped on it. Not waiting to find out there is nothing I like later in the year. I'm looking forward to wearing it for the holidays, too!


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