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Fashion and Beauty for the Mother of the Groom

Your son’s wedding is an important day in your life as well as his, and you want to look and feel good for all of the festivities. You will take your cue from the bride and her mother on the basics such as the degree of formality and color options they are planning to use in the total design of the wedding, but you also have the chance to exhibit your own sense of style. Try to have fun with this!

I. What to Wear

II. Accessorizing

III. Grooming

IV. Spa Services

What to Wear

Before You Get Started
Dressing for the wedding and reception is like dressing for any other important event - you want to look your best and be appropriate for the occasion. Yet, there is an additional requirement for this special occasion - you want to blend harmoniously with the bride, her mother, and the overall wedding party. The starting point is to confer with the bride and her mother on the basics of formality, season, length, and color. Are they planning to have you closely match with the mother of the bride, perhaps both wearing varying shades of a single color? Or is the plan to have loose coordination, having each mother select from a broad range of defined options? There is really no point in starting out to shop for an outfit until you get the basics established. Even if the bride insists that you should “just wear whatever you want to,” sit down and discuss general ideas. Brides typically have a vision of what they want to happen, even if they can’t quite explain it at first.

Shopping Around
Armed with an understanding of what the bride and her mother have in mind, you are ready to start shopping and trying on different looks. Unless you’ve been given very clear instructions to purchase a style that is only available out of a specific mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-groom collection, it is best to begin your shopping at stores and with clothing lines that you are familiar and comfortable with. Even when shopping the “mother-of” collections, steer clear of outfits that scream mother-of-the-groom. Unless they authentically match your own sense of style, you are better off shopping from a broader selection.

Think about a style that always makes you feel great and look great wearing, and try to use that as a starting point. You don’t have to wear a dress - there are formal pantsuits that can be very elegant - but a dress is the safest option, and this is a time when safe is typically best. Consider your own best assets as you begin your search. Even if your guidance from the bride has been very specific - for example, please wear a long beige dress with short sleeves - you’ll still be able to individualize that by going with a cut, neckline, fabric, etc. that works especially well for you. In general, avoid anything too fussy, too trendy, or too showy. Go with a solid color, avoiding prints and patterns. Classic styles and lines are likely to be best. Remember that you will be well documented in many photographs in this outfit. Think about making a selection that will look beautiful and timeless 10 years from now when the family is sitting around looking at the photo album.

In addition to shopping sources you are already familiar with, consider looking into bridesmaid collections that can be customized by color and style to use as an option for the mother of the groom. Many of these collections, such as The Dessy Group and David’s Bridal, offer beautiful, simple, classic styles that can easily be worn by a youthful mother of the groom. Some national retailers such as J. Crew and Ann Taylor have their own lines of bridal party and special occasion dresses that can beautifully dress the mother of the groom. Don’t be discouraged from trying out these possibilities based on your own misgivings about what you can and can’t wear. If your arms aren’t your best feature, you don’t necessarily have to rule out a sleeveless dress. Beautiful wraps and jackets can often be purchased or even custom made to go along with a dress that is perfect in every other way.

There are ways that you can stretch your budget while also getting an outfit that you love. Buying a dress from any of these non-mother-of-the- groom sources offers the added bonus that you will likely be able to use the dress for future occasions. This alone is money in the bank. Buying off season on sale is another great strategy. The sooner you can start shopping for your outfit the better. If you know you are dealing with a summer wedding with a year’s advance notice, you can shop the end-of-summer sales the year before the wedding and save a tremendous amount of money. Be careful about return policies as you are doing your shopping. Unless you are getting an unbelievable deal, don’t buy anything that can’t be returned for a refund. You are going to want to show your purchase to your future daughter-in-law and her mother. If you bring home an item that ends up hopelessly clashing with the mother of the bride’s outfit, you should be prepared to return yours and start over.

Things to Avoid
Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. There are some pitfalls to avoid.
1 - Never buy a fashion risk. If you have to ask yourself whether or not it is too tight, too flashy, too young, too anything...put it back. Deep down inside, you know what is and isn’t appropriate. You can be gorgeous and appropriate. Inappropriate ends up looking desperate on the mother-of-the groom (or mother-of-the-bride).
2 - Never buy something that you have to lose weight to wear. If by some miraculous turn of events, you manage to lose 10 pounds by the time of the wedding, have your dress altered. It’s just not realistic or smart to force yourself to lose weight in order to fit into a dress that may never look right no matter how much weight you lose. The other side to this is that you should never buy something, regardless of size, that you really need to be shaped differently in order to make it look right.
3 - Never pull a big surprise on the wedding day. Always preview the outfit to the bride and her mother and do not under any circumstances decide at the last minute to change your mind and your dress. In addition to the obvious problems that could cause, there are issues that you may not be aware of. Photography is a big part of any wedding, and certain colors and fabrics may clash in photographs. A corsage may have been ordered for you based on what people understood to be your outfit for the day. This is not the time to change your mind.
4 - Never buy anything that is uncomfortable, see-through, or just plain ridiculous. This requires no explanation.

Accessorizing

Once the big choice of the dress or outfit has been decided on, you are ready to start the fun of selecting accessories. As you make accessory choices, try everything on with everything else. This means examining your total look in a full length mirror, complete with everything from the necessary undergarments to the added wrap - and everything in between.

Shoes - Shoes are usually the first accessory choice you will make. Aside from the obvious matching of the shoe color and style to the color and style of the dress, look for shoes that are comfortable for standing, walking, and dancing. Avoid shoes that do not have an enclosed back or back-strap. If you don’t have something fastening in your foot in the back of the shoe or sandal, you are going to make a clomping sound as you walk down the aisle or even worse you may walk out of your shoe and have to retrieve it. Be sure you can comfortably move around in this pair of shoes because you are going to be wearing them for an entire day that is spent largely on your feet. Spend enough time wearing them around the house to get comfortable in them.

Purse - Next select your purse. The purse should coordinate with the shoes and dress, but it is more interesting if the purse and shoes are not the exact same color and material. One way of doing this is to pick up the basic color of both the dress and the shoes in a pattern or color combination of the purse. Or there may be a design element, such as a bow, that appears on the dress and is repeated on the purse. Regardless of other factors, the purse should be small, yet large enough to hold your essentials (think kleenex, reading glasses, lipstick, etc.). A small clutch with an optional shoulder length strap that can be tucked inside is a stylish and practical choice.

Jewelry - The style of dress dictates the style of jewelry that you should select. There are some clear style issues, such as the length and shape of a necklace has to fit with the neckline of the dress. If you have jewelry with a family or sentimental meaning, your son’s wedding is a wonderful time to wear it, as it will only deepen the meaningfulness of the occasion. However, jewelry as an accessory has some additional considerations that have to be factored in. Because jewelry is worn close to the face, it will be highly visible in photographs. Since you are bound to be photographed in close-ups with other members of the wedding party, you need to take into consideration the type and style of jewelry they will be wearing. If everyone is wearing delicate diamond stud earrings and you show up in chunky, brightly colored costume jewelry, it is going to look jarring in photographs. The idea is not that everyone has to match, but the sense of style and proportion ought to be consistent.

If the bride and her mother own exceptional pieces of fine jewelry which they plan to wear the day of the wedding, you may feel like coordinating with them is hopeless. A clever way to address this is to rent fine jewelry to wear just for this occasion. Renting a $10,000 necklace for $300 from a service like adornbrides.com is a better solution to this situation than purchasing faux jewels, since the real jewels will always photograph differently than even very good knock- offs. Plus, you’ll feel great wearing that gorgeous, red carpet worthy necklace just this once!

Wraps - Regardless of the weather expectations, it is always a good idea to bring along a pretty wrap of some kind. This can be anything from a pashmina shawl to a fitted jacket. Fabric, weight, cut, and color must all be taken into consideration to come up with a good match to the basic dress or outfit. It should be something that can either be set aside or worn with ease, not easily wrinkled or damaged, and suitable for the possibility that the weather may be colder or warmer than you anticipate. It gives your outfit added versatility for the varying conditions and circumstances of the day.

Undergarments - Certain things are a given - some dresses require a strapless bra. There are other things to consider as well, since there is a whole world of smoothing and shaping “foundation garments” to select from among. Try on your dress, and give yourself an honest assessment. Bulges, underwear lines, and the like can be eliminated with Spanx and similar products. Go ahead and buy what you need to make the dress and you look good together. Then, there is the issue of pantyhose. If it is a summer wedding, and you’ll be wearing open-toed shoes or sandals, the current trend is no pantyhose. Instead you’ll need a great pedicure and, if you don’t naturally have beautiful skin tone on your legs, a good self-tanner to give the even color and definition to your legs that hosiery normally provides. If the wedding is in cooler weather and you have close-toed shoes, pantyhose make most women’s legs look their best.

Grooming

Hair
There are a few things to keep in mind when figuring out what to do with your hair. You need a hairstyle that will look good and require minimal upkeep for the entire day and night of the wedding. Ideally it will be a style that you are comfortable wearing and reflects the “real you.” Take into consideration the environment that the hair will have to stand up to. If the wedding is outdoors, your hair may have to survive wind, heat, and humidity depending on the conditions expected. Avoid elaborate styles that make you look and feel like someone else. A more polished version of the way you normally wear your hair is usually a safe bet.

If everyone in the wedding party is having their hair professionally styled the day of the wedding and the bride has asked you specifically to join in, then you may want to go along with the group. If this isn’t your regular stylist, be sure that you make your desires very clear to the stylist being used by the group. Otherwise, the decision of whether to have professionally styled hair or do it yourself is up to you. No matter what, do not try a brand new hairstyle the day of the wedding. Practice ahead of time if you are going to style it yourself, or consult with your stylist at an earlier appointment if you’ll have it done professionally.

Plan to get any routine trim, color, or other hair treatment one to two weeks prior to the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to get any corrections made if necessary.

Make-Up
Find out if the bride and her mother are having their make-up done professionally. If they are, then you should also, ideally by the same person or team. The reason for this is that make-up makes a huge difference in the quality and overall look of photographs. If everyone else in the wedding photographs has professionally applied make-up and you do not, you are going to look washed out and fundamentally different from the rest of those in the picture. If you had to choose between professional hairstyling and professional make-up, go with the professional make-up job.

Once again, a more polished version of you should be the goal. If using the services of a professional, don’t be afraid to say what you do and do not feel comfortable with. Be sure to purchase the lip color used so that you can do touch-ups during the day and night. If you will be doing your own make-up, practice ahead of time so that you know what you are doing.

Spa Services

Manicure and Pedicure
Schedule an appointment to get a manicure and pedicure a day or two before the wedding. Select light, neutral, or natural polish. French manicures are always appropriate. The idea is to look and feel good.

Facials
If you routinely get facials, go ahead with your usual treatment - at least one week prior to the wedding. If you don’t typically get facials, but you want to for this special occasion, be cautious. Never get a facial that you and your skin are not used to in the days leading up to the wedding. Allow a full month between the time you get a facial and the wedding if this is something you’re not used to. Allergic skin reactions can occur immediately, or you can have a delayed reaction as much as two weeks after exposure. If you should happen to experience a bad reaction to a facial (usually this will be a red, rashy, potentially itchy reaction), try to get in to see a dermatologist immediately. He or she can give you a prescription cream to counteract this, but it may still take a couple of weeks to completely clear up.

Massages, Water Therapy, Waxing, Etc.
This is totally your call. If you want more pampering, go for it!