According to Erin Carpenter, a Chicago-based bridal and fashion stylist, mothers of the wedding should choose dresses that complement the wedding palette without exactly matching the wedding party – you don’t want the bride’s mom looking like another bridesmaid.
But if particular color coordination is preferred, try a pattern. “Patterns have multiple colors and one of them could tie in with the bridal party without going overboard,” says Sherri Garcia, a lead stylist with personal and bridal styling service Styled.Seattle. Typically, however, she advises picking a rich, sophisticated hue (blues, burgundy, plum, chocolate and silvery-grays are smart), and avoiding white, cream, ivory or champagne.
Ideally, the mothers should wear different colors than one another, adds Carpenter; traditionally, the MOB chooses her dress first, and then the MOG chooses accordingly. In terms of style, Garcia favors dresses over the cliché matching taffeta separates. If coverage is the goal, look for elegant sleeves or a great wrap.
“Today it’s appropriate to dress like you’re going to a cocktail party,” says Carpenter. “For many women, knee-length dresses are more flattering, and open necklines like V-neck or scoop are lovely, especially when paired with a statement necklace or earrings to draw the eye upward.” She recommends Tadashi Shoji, Jim Hjelm and J.Crew. Watters also has a line, Collection C20, that exclusively is fashion for mothers of the bride or groom.
In general, the dads should wear neutral-colored suits and shirts (e.g. a charcoal suit and white shirt), or, for formal evening events, a tuxedo, says Garcia.
In fact, it’s actually okay for dads to look like other members of the wedding party (and each other), says Carpenter, so they can look to the groom and groomsmen and mimic their style, be it black tie or khaki linen suits. There may be some room for personalization in tie, vest or pocket square selection (maybe the groomsmen are wearing neckties, while the fathers sport bow ties), but, warns Carpenter, it should be cleared with the bride and groom first.