A Guide for Mother of the Bride Attire: Everything You Need to Know

by Karen

What Color Dress Should the Mother of the Bride Wear 

Because the mother of the bride (MOB) is an integral part of the wedding party, she must dress the part. She should wear appropriate attire that will make her look and feel her absolute best.

MOB attire etiquette is usually easy to follow as it doesn’t have many hard and fast rules. However, because every wedding is different, deciding on a color scheme can be difficult, especially when there are so many fashionable options available.

Don’t worry though, we got you. We’ve put together a color palette guide that will make shopping for MOB dresses a breeze. It also contains advice on the dos and don’ts of dress etiquette, which is sure to get your creative juices flowing. 

What Does The Mother of the Bride Wear?

Vintage inspired mother of the bride dresses

Appropriate dresses used to be conventional and matronly. Thankfully, etiquette has evolved to a point where it’s become rare to see an MOB dressed in beige and Easter-egg pastels. 

The mother is encouraged to clothe herself in something that she and her daughter will love. This has paved the way for elegant evening gowns, cocktail dresses, dressy pantsuits, timeless maxi dresses, and other classy options to make their appearance during the wedding as part of the MOB’s wardrobe. 

With the myriad of options available, it’s become tougher for the MOB to find the perfect attire. When evaluating several options, it’s always a good idea to shop for dresses that flatter your figure. An A-line gown, for example, is one of the best options for plus-size mother of the bride dresses.

Ideally, the hues and silhouette of the MOB dress should complement the formality of the event as well as the venue and wedding theme. Having said that, here are a few key considerations to think about when buying such a dress.

Seasonality Will Dictate the Style of the MOB Dress

The MOTB’s dress should be elegant, understated, and, above all, seasonally appropriate.

Mother of the bride dresses for outdoor summer weddings should be lightweight and flowy. She should not be required to wear thick, lengthy, and heavy skirts. On that same note, the MOB should consider adding a wrap or shawl just in case it becomes chilly.

The Venue Will Influence What the MOB Wears

The wedding venue can help you decide on the dress for the wedding party. An elegant, classic long dress is suited for formal and semi-formal occasions while a casual, flowy outfit made with a light fabric in shorter styles will fit laid-back celebrations.

Bridesmaid Dresses and the Wedding Color Scheme Can Influence What the MOB Wears

The MOB can take inspiration from the wedding gown and bridesmaid costumes to stay on theme, especially if the bride wants her to match the bridal party. You can get a swatch of the fabric so you can have something for reference and a source of inspiration.

If the bride hasn’t mentioned any specific preferences, it’s always a good idea to wear something that complements rather than overshadows the bridal party’s color palette. For example, if the wedding color scheme is black, you may want to choose something in silver or gray hues

Who Picks the Mother of the Bride Dress?

Nataya Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in Mauve

While the bride will most likely provide suggestions and opinions about what her mother should wear, the mom still gets the final say.

Ideally, the MOB dress should be comfortable and flattering. After all, it’s a special day in her life and she should feel and look her best. Get the bride’s opinion on color and style as well as what to avoid so you have all the information you need to make a successful dress purchase.

If your daughter is insisting on a particular style and color that you disagree with, talk to her about it. Make sure you offer alternatives so the bride doesn’t have to spend too much time looking high and low for another MOB dress. 

What Color Does the Mother of the Bride Wear?

Collection of vintage inspired dresses worn by mother of the bride

Allow us to reel in a happy surprise. The MOTB can wear any color she wants, but it’s better to avoid certain colors such as white, ivory, or champagne tones as they’re considered bridal colors and may take attention away from the bride.

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when shopping for a dress:

Do: Wear Muted Colors

Neutral and pastel hues are more muted and come in a variety of styles so they’re a good choice. They can also be adorned with metallic and other embellishments to dress them up and make them look more special.

Don’t: Wear Bold Colors

You’ll be taking lots of pictures and videos of the happy occasion so stay away from colors that can draw attention away from the bride and bridal party. Wearing colors like bright orange and red is considered excessively bold, flashy, and attention-getting so they’re best avoided.

However, if the wedding party is wearing bright hues, the MOB can wear a more saturated color.

Do: Pick Colors That Look Good on You

Pick colors that flatter your skin tone. If you aren’t sure what skin tone you have, check the appearance of the veins on the inside of your forearm in natural light. If they appear blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone; and if they appear green or greenish-blue, you have a warm skin tone.

Here’s the color etiquette that will help you pick the right dress:

Warm Skin Tone

You’ll look great in red, coral, amber, yellow, and orange if you have this skin tone. Warmer hues of cool colors, such as olive and orchid, as well as neutrals like cappuccino, taupe, and cream, will also suit you nicely.

Cool Skin Tone

If you have this skin tone, emeralds, vivid blues, frosty lavender, and ice-blue shades will suit you best. Warmer colors like bright rose red and neutrals like navy and cold gray are also great options.

Do: Use This Color Palette For Inspiration

Color Palette Of Vintage Dresses For Mother Of The Bride Inspiration


Moms, now that you’re familiar with what to wear and what to avoid, here is a color palette that will help you choose the perfect dress. 

  • If the bridesmaids are wearing corals, reds, and pinks, the MOB can wear darker, earthier hues from the same family. Colors like mauve, raspberry, auburn, and burgundy will work well in evening and winter weddings. Complementary colors such as charcoal, gold, and silver can also be worn.
  • If the wedding party is wearing purple, the MOB can wear plum, eggplant, or lavender to add grandeur and richness to the color purple. Silver, navy, and gold are also excellent options.
  • If the bridal party is wearing blues and greens, the MOB can wear eggplant, peacock wine, navy blue, seafoam, pale green, gray, gold, silver, and other coordinating colors.
  • If the wedding party is dressed in oranges and yellows, the MOB can dress in grays, taupe, beige, and other off-white tones to look and feel sophisticated.

If you’re wondering what is the most popular color for the mother, it’s navy, followed by blush and shades of nudes. When in doubt, neutrals are the way to go. They look great with just about any color scheme.

Do: Accessorize

Vintage-inspired accessories to accessorize the mother of the bride

With the right accessories, you can transform even the dullest-looking MOB dress into a work of art. Here are some stylish accessories that will elevate the appeal of your MOB dress.


A stunning shawl or shrug will not only make a statement but will also let you cover your arms on cooler evenings, all while making you look graceful and timeless. You can also wear a pashmina or breathable wrap as a vintage accessory.


Gloves are a long-standing tradition that, in our opinion, will never go out of style. For a practical, low-key yet exquisite style, choose gloves with the right length, material, and color based on your outfit, the season, venue, and weather.

Take inspiration from classic movies where actresses wore puffed sleeve empire gowns with elbow-length gloves to provide warmth and flair to the gown and make it look dainty.


A pearl necklace exudes understated elegance and beauty. They make a statement without going overboard, allowing you to add a classic and iconic touch to your wedding ensemble.

Hat and Fascinators

Even if you’re not attending a church wedding, a hat is the perfect traditional accessory. It can complement and complete an ensemble and comes in a variety of hues and styles that you can use to match the wedding’s color scheme.

If you’re looking for a more fun accessory, opt for a fascinator. Traditionally, the MOB didn’t use this accessory, but it has since evolved as an acceptable accessory for the MOB. Just choose a hairstyle that goes with your fascinator. This will ensure that your accessory will work for you and not against you. 

Does the Mother of the Bride Dress Need to Match Bridesmaids’ Dresses?

No, the MOB doesn’t have to match the bridesmaids or the wedding party unless the couple wants a more cohesive look. If that’s the case, a bridal salon consultant can help you select a dress color that will complement the bridesmaids.

The MOB can also pick a color of her preference. It’s fine if she wants to wear something that doesn’t match the bridesmaids’ outfits or the wedding color palette. Most brides don’t have a preference when it comes to what their mothers wear, so they’re free to make their own decision. 

Should Mothers of the Bride and Groom Match?

Typically, MOBs choose their dress first and then coordinate with the groom’s mother. This helps them choose dresses that complement each other rather than clash together. Their dresses can be of any color, style, or length as long as they are appropriate for the wedding.

However, if the bride and groom want their mothers to wear complementary colors, the mothers of the bride and groom should discuss ideas and collaborate on their outfits to prevent mishaps. The happy couple can offer suggestions for colors and styles as well as the degree of formality to help speed up the process. 

Wrapping Up

Wedding party dresses can seem like a chore but it doesn’t have to be. Simply communicate with your daughter about what she wants you to wear, then add your own personal touches. You will still have a lot of say in terms of style, color, length, and accessories without deviating too much from the theme of the other wedding outfits.

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