Not sure where to begin when looking for your mother-of-the-bride or groom outfit? Let us help

A is for... at the outset

Struggling with outfit basics such as where to buy? Social media is a great first port of call, says Robyn Bell of Catherines of Partick: “We recommend starting the search early.

That’s because, as with most of the wedding industry, everything works a season ahead – so the sooner you start looking the more options you’ll have.

Happily, thanks to the extensive range of dresses that we have available in our store in Glasgow’s west end, we can also accommodate anyone who needs a fast turnaround.”

B is for... bespoke

For mamas looking to go down the bespoke route, all of Joyce Young Design Studios’ MoB and MoG collection is made to measure. You choose your individual outfit from the extensive collection of sample styles in your choice of fabric and colour.

The outfit is then made to your measurements in the Glasgow studio (this takes an average of three appointments, for fittings, pinnings and alterations).

“This thorough process means your outfit is designed, cut and crafted for you and only you,” says the award-winning designer.

C is for... curvy mums

Pick a look that enhances your shape, rather than trying to hide the bits you don’t like: that’s the advice of Kayleigh Kerr of Serendipity. The Kilmarnock boutique stocks looks that go up to a size 24, providing a great range of options.

At Bentleys, meanwhile, there is plenty of choice too. “Curvy mums love our Dressed Up by Veromia range,” says the store’s Irene Mackie. “It has beautiful outfits, stylish dresses and soft flowing trouser suits in myriad colours and flattering shapes, from sizes 18 to 24.”

D is for... dressing for your appointment

Here’s a piece of good advice from Bentleys in Banchory: take a pair of comfortable, neutral shoes and well-fitting underwear (perhaps a similar type to what you intend to wear on the big day) with you to your appointment.

Appointments are not always necessary at the store, but if you do have one, says Irene Mackie, you can let the staff know your size before you arrive, and they’ll look out a selection of outfits for you to start with. If you want to bring someone along with you, she adds, it should be the person you trust to give you the best advice. “But remember the final choice is yours!”

E is for... end of line

Saving money on your outfit doesn’t have to mean compromising on style. At the sale boutique for Falkirk’s Catwalk store, The Dressing Rooms in Grangemouth, you’ll find a huge selection of past seasons’ occasionwear, all at a fraction of the recommended retail cost, as well as a fabulous selection of showroom samples (in sizes 10 and 12) at a bargain price.

Designers stocked include Condici, Ispirato, John Charles, Veromia and Lizabella, and there is even an in-house alterations service so you can ensure your find is the perfect fit.

F is for... fascinators, hats and more!

It’s important to take three things into account when choosing headwear, according to milliner Stephanie Gallen: style, comfort and budget. You won’t know what you like until you try, says the Kirkintilloch-based hat designer, and many women end up picking something very different to what they thought they’d go for. Be practical, she adds: “Think about how you’ll get to the venue – will you be in a car and will you be able to get in with your hat’s height and width? If not, will you be able to put it on yourself once you arrive? Will you be hugging loved ones? If a large brim might get in the way, consider a narrower style or fascinator with height.”

H is for... hemlines

When it comes to hem length, Joyce Young’s advice is simple: wear what you feel most comfortable in. “Hem lengths change depending on each individual person’s body type,” she points out. “The most important thing is that you feel wonderful in an outfit that gives you confidence. Whether you go long or short, our made-to-measure outfits at Joyce Young Collections are designed to flatter.”

For 2023, dipped hemlines (where the back is longer than the front) are proving popular, but A-line silhouettes (which tend to fall below the knee) remain a stalwart in ladies’ fashion.

G is for... go with an open mind

We hear from mums all the time who started shopping with a particular style of frock in mind only to buy something completely different after playing dress-up. So, our advice is always to keep an open mind. There’s a reason it’s called ‘occasionwear’ – these are not your everyday clothes! So try as many styles as you can to see what sort of look suits you.

Listen to the store’s stylists as well and take their suggestions on board. This is what they do best, after all, so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, don’t be scared to ask them for advice. Why not try a wild card, something you’d never normally go for? You might just end up loving it!

J is for... jumpsuits and trousers

Gone are the days of the trad jacket-and-dress combo sported by mothers at weddings for generations – and we’re here for it! Looking for something that’s a bit different? Why not try a jumpsuit or trouser suit? As you can see in the two images below, when paired with a glorious hat, you’ll look and feel sensational. And if you’re after an outfit with longevity, you should be able to wear these time and again for all sorts of other occasions.

K is for... key trends

A major trend for mamas to keep an eye out for, according to Natalie Godfrey of Frox of Falkirk, is chiffon: from soft and floaty skirts to modern trouser suits, this will be a big hitter in 2023.

Katya Wildman at Bombshell London agrees: “The new season brings lightweight fabrics with it, and we can’t get enough of them. Lace will also be having a moment this season, from all-over gowns to those with little accents on their hems and necklines.”

Mothers’ love of vintage styles remains strong too, with Dior-esque silhouettes (think cinched waist and a fuller skirt) at the forefront.


L is for... labels to know

Veni Infantino This popular occasionwear label is known for its sophisticated, stylish and feminine outfits. It’s eponymous British designer-in-chief prides herself on knowing what women really want to wear; she knows their body shapes and how to create comfortable, confidence-boosting looks that mums love.

Condici A British label with a reputation for making chic, timeless looks. Well respected and widely stocked.

Veromia Group Veromia Occasions, Irresistible by Veromia, and Dressed Up by Veromia are three of this UK-based brand’s collections. The first offers reasonably priced dresses; the second specialises in day-to-night designs, while the latter is its plus-size range, coming in sizes 16 to 32 (which are not simply scaled-up versions of smaller dresses).

Gill Harvey If you love a bit of vintage glamour, this British brand will be right up your street. It very often gives a nod to Art Deco and the Roaring Twenties, using sequins and feathered details, and is a real treat for those looking to make a statement.

Couture-Club With delicate beading and waist-accentuating designs, this Barcelona-based brand offers a modern and fashionable collection that retains a formal edge.

Joyce Young Design Studios Joyce Young OBE has built up a well-deserved reputation for beautifully made designs over 30 years in the fashion industry. Head to her Glasgow boutique (or London studio) for a made-to-measure experience where you can go completely bespoke with your outfit.

John Charles Famed for its premium fabrics and flattering fits, the long-established John Charles label remains a firm favourite in the occasionwear world.


M is for... money

How much you spend on your look isn’t the important part: what really matters is how you feel when you don that outfit on the day of the wedding. Frox of Falkirk covers all bases: it has occasionwear starting from £200, while its sale shop next door has outfits from £50.

“There is no right or wrong amount to spend on an outfit,” says the boutique’s Natalie. “The main thing is that the clothes make you feel like a million dollars.”

N is for... necklines

Kayleigh Kerr at Serendipity reckons V-necks and sweetheart necklines are a flattering choice for full-busted women. “The off-the-shoulder look has also been extremely popular in our store this past year,” she notes. “It really ticks all the boxes for all the age groups. It’s fun and flirty, while still creating a sophisticated silhouette. This makes it perfect for ladies who want a bit of coverage at the top of the arms without the need for a full sleeve.”

Bombshell London’s Katya Wildman echoes this, adding V-necks are a firm fave with her MoB and MoG customers. Another trend to keep an eye out for? Square necklines. These are flattering for all and are big news this season.

O is for... other mother

“It is not uncommon for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom to believe they have to dress according to their role, but both ladies are of equal importance and should shop from the same selection of dresses,” says Robyn Bell at Catherines of Partick. “The key to coordinating is communication between all the significant ladies, keeping one another in the loop about what each has decided to wear for the special day.”

Her advice to all mamas is simple: focus on you. This means worrying about your own likes and dislikes, as well as what looks and feels good on you, without stressing about what anyone else is wearing. “Everyone naturally will suit different styles and colours so just focus on what you love,” she adds.

P is for... picking a colour

While it is lovely having your mum match the wedding theme, Louise Brown at Catwalk urges brides to be mindful of their mum’s skin tone, hair colour and personality when choosing colours.

“Traditionally, the bride’s mother would choose a colour that matches what the bridesmaids are wearing. The groom’s mum often likes to coordinate with her son’s tartan or tie. It’s always best to enjoy the planning and keep discussions open and supportive.” 

Trying on plenty of dresses in different colours will give you an indication of which hues you love and look good on you, she adds.

R is for... role

“I would say a modern MoB’s role in the big day is pretty much the same as it has been since your little cherub was born: listen and support,” states Kayleigh Kerr at Serendipity. Many couples, she notes, are having their mums involved in walking down the aisle, whether that’s the groom with his mum prior to the bride’s arrival, or the bride with her mum instead of (or as well as) her dad.

Mamas who are involved in this way will need to look the part. “Choosing an outfit should be a pleasure, but it can turn into a pressure quickly,” designer Joyce Young points out. “We are all different but one thing we have in common is that we want to look the very best we can and make our son or daughter proud.”

S is for... shape

Bombshell London has dresses to suit all shapes and sizes and can cover up any areas you’re not so fond of. Self-conscious about your tummy? Draped sarong styles conceal and flatter, as do two-piece suits, according to the company’s Katya Wildman. “Bigger busts should opt for V-necklines, while apple shapes should go for a tie-front dress which will bring you in at the waist.”

Over at Catherines of Partick, meanwhile, Robyn Bell encourages mums to try a diverse range of styles, which should help you see what you do and do not feel comfortable in. “The key to feeling great in your outfit is confidence and dressing for your individual shape and taste, rather than simply following trends,” she adds.

T is for... tweaks

You’ll want your ensemble to fit you like a glove, so sometimes it’s necessary to have alterations made. As with all wedding planning, it’s best not to leave this too late. “We recommend booking in with the seamstress six to eight weeks before, which allows plenty of time for tweaks and changes to be made,” Natalie at Frox of Falkirk informs us.
Kayleigh Kerr at Serendipity points out that some dresses may need alterations such as a shoulder lift, for example, so that the waistline hits where it’s intended.

U is for... underwear

So you’ve picked out your dream dress – now what do the experts suggest you wear underneath it? Shona Thorpe at Biggar’s Sheila Conn Ladies Fashions recommends going with an all-in-one shapewear piece to smooth away any lines (you don’t want the dreaded VPL in the photos, and this will help to hold you in place while still being comfortable).

Kayleigh at Serendipity also stresses the importance of a good bra: “This is our top tip – we give it to all mums regardless of their dress size. Trust us, a well-fitting bra truly transforms a look. It will be the difference between a dress fitting properly or not.”

W is for... who to bring with you

In some cases, the more the merrier isn’t always a great idea. Too many people’s opinions can get confusing, Shona Thorpe tells us, as there may be contrasting views on what suits you best. Bringing someone you trust and feel comfortable with is her best advice. For this reason, being accompanied to your appointment by a maximum of two people is wisest, so keep this in mind when deciding who to ask.

X is for... extras

Accessories are the icing on the cake. Once you’ve decided on what to wear, Shona Thorpe at Sheila Conn Ladies Fashions suggests looking for complementary shoes, bag and headwear. Ideally, these will be in tones that flatter your outfit, and it’s nice if you get a matching set, such as a navy clutch and shoes.

Just make sure your feet are comfortable as well as stylish, says Shona. It’s a long day and there’ll be dancing…

For headwear, the traditional hat is often a MoB or MoG’s first thought, but milliner Stephanie Gallen believes it’s worth considering a fascinator: “The word conjures up images of a piece of fluff stuck to the side of your head, but fascinators absolutely don’t follow that trope any more.

Likewise, hats don’t have to be stuffy, and so try on different looks to see what suits you best.”

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