Dress like the most glamorous mother of the bride by following these style rules

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On my very own wedding day I remember being possessed by the most extraordinary thought: ‘I’ll never have this moment of glory again…. unless I’m lucky enough to become a mother of the bride.’ Such was my mental state of mind as I lived out the most anticipated moment of my life. I knew then and there that it was as much my mother’s day, as it was mine. Just as it is a rite of passage for a father to walk his daughter down the aisle, it is that of the mother’s to claim this triumphant occasion as (partly) her own and thus what she chooses to wear is very telling of how she wishes to both present herself and feel.


    The ultimate British mother of the bride look. Steeped in tradition, the coat dress has an old school feel to it offering a suitable amount of formality making it simply perfect for all the pomp and ceremony a grand wedding displays. As mother of the bride, there is always an expectation for you to somewhat own the day and this look certainly means ‘business’. While there are various versions of the coat dress, the idea is the coat is the main event and what is worn beneath is not of importance. Royal couturier Stewart Parvin who has designed for many-a-high profile wedding, including Her Majesty’s outfit at the 2018 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, says: ‘If you are very sophisticated and are aiming to wear one look on the Wedding Day that will see you through from start to finish, this is the outfit of choice. Coat dresses are designed to be worn and not removed, just like you would a dress.’ Penny Knatchbull pulled this look off with great elegance at her daughter Lady Alexandra’s wedding in 2016; with Parvin confessing that this is now the aspirational look of every chic mother of the bride-to-be that he designs for. Hats are preferred to fascinators in order to add weight to this particularly smart look. All other accessories are expected to blend in, much like anything else you may wear beneath it.

    Pictured: Coat Dresses worn by Penny Knatchbull at Alexandra Knatchbull’s wedding (above) and the Queen at the wedding of Princess Anne, 1973

    1. Diamond necklace, POA, De Beers

    2. Sinamay hat, £299, Lalage Beaumont

    3. Raw silk coat £599, Lalage Beaumont

    4. Glitter buckle clutch, £1,280, Manolo Blahnik

    5. Suede pumps, £515, Manolo Blahnik

    6. Raw silk coat, £599, Lalage Beaumont

    7. Box leather bag, £850, Amina Muaddi at Matches Fashion

    8. Diamond and Sapphire earrings, POA, Anita Ko

    9. Felt hat with feather trim, POA, Rachel Trevor-Morgan (blue)

    10. Raw silk dress, £699 Lalage Beaumont (royal blue)

    11. Suede block heels, £395, Emmy London


    This look is all about how you wear it. In 2018 Liz Foy de Osma glided into her daughter Alessandra’s church service on a wave of glistening style. Her long chiffon dress floated through the crowds lining the streets and that’s all there was to it. No coat, no shawl and definitely no headpiece. The dress was enough. It set the tone beautifully and notably the general lack of headwear from guests suggests she may have even put that rule in place (which is perfectly feasible in her role as mother of the bride). At the late Diana, Princess of Wales’ London wedding in July 1981 her mother Frances Shand Kydd also chose a day dress for the wedding of the decade. Equally as feminine with frills and a flower-adorned matching hat, she pulled it off in a pretty shade of violet. Her very British summery look was completed with a pearl choker, gloves and – of course – sheer tights.

    Pictured: Frances Shand-Kydd at the wedding of Princess Diana and Charles in 1981 (above) and Liz Foy de Osma arriving at daughter Alessandra de Osma’s wedding, 2018

    1. Rose pill box hat, £1,263, Rachel Trevor-Morgan at Harrods

    2. Floral linen dress, £635, Zimmermann at Net-A-Porter

    3. Cotton dress, £435, Ulla Johnson at Net-A-Porter

    4. Diamond and gold bracelet, POA, Nour by Jahan

    5. Leather heels, £555, Aquazzura

    6. Chiffon pleated bow dress, £400, Self Portrait at Net-A-Porter

    7. Suede clutch, £395, Emmy London

    8. Silk dress with button sleeves, £695, Anna Mason at Net-A-Porter

    9. Sequin tulle gown, £525, Needle & Thread

    10. Rose headpiece, £745, Emily-London

    11. Leather mules, £555, Gianvito Rossi at Browns

    12. Gold diamond hoops, POA, Anita Ko


    Sarah, Duchess of York’s pride was palpable (and for good reason) at her daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding at St George’s chapel, Windsor in 2018. Her choice of outfit by local designer Emma Louise Design was one that put this emotion on display through its fitted cut and bold colour – with the added detail of the train at the back of the skirt, giving it a fashionable edge. Cocktail dresses, in particular, work perfectly for traditional British weddings which take you directly from the church service through to the wedding reception, where one is expected to remain in the same outfit (they are chic enough for church while being stylish enough for the afterparty). A boater gives a modern feel to this look as well as balancing out the figure hugging silhouette. Green, the colour of peace, is a confident choice for blondes, brunettes and redheads alike, as well as suiting all skin tones.

    Pictured: Sarah, Duchess of York in a cocktail dress at the wedding of Princess Eugenie, 2018

    1. Gold citrine earrings, £400, Butler & Wilson

    2. Velvet headband, £320, Jess Collett

    3. Satin feather trim dress, £795, 16 Arlington Harvey Nichols

    4. Black boater, £775, Lock & Co

    5. Rose gold emerald ring, POA, Tomasz Donocik

    6. Silk peplum dress, £999, Lalage Beaumont

    7. Leather sling backs, £695, Christian Louboutin

    8. Satin jewel clutch, £1,320, Manolo Blahnik

    9. Textured dress, £1,480, Talbot Runhof Harvey Nichols

    10. Felt saucer hat, £780, Jess Collett

    11. Silk crepe dress, £1,950, Suzannah

    12. Suede bow pumps, £465, Emmy London


    Hot on the heels of the coat dress look, this is another key style choice although more versatile. Parvin refers to this as more of an ‘Ascot look.’ ‘When dressing for British events you have to always factor in the weather. In New York you will pretty much know what the approximate temperature will be like in May, for example. You could also say the same of Tuscany or the South of France; in the UK we have to be realistic as, let’s face it, we never really know what the day has in store.’ Parvin goes on to add: ‘Like Ascot, you need one look which covers all eventualities.’ The adaptability of this two-piece matching look allows you to cover up in church (British churches, as he points out, are often freezing even on a hot summer’s day) whilst having the option to remove a layer in an over heated marquee, yet keeping your look on point. Coats should drop elegantly an inch or two below the matching dress (as per Doria Ragland’s Oscar de la Renta number at her daughter, the Duchess of Sussex’s, wedding). A petite hat – such as a pill box – is preferred to a fascinator to complete the formal feel, should you have an aversion to big hats which is not unheard of.

    Pictured: Doria Ragland in a coordinated ensemble at Meghan and Harry’s wedding (above) and Princess Margaret arriving at the wedding of her daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto

    1. Linen embroided floral coat, £1,350, Favourbrook

    2. Silk rose hat, £497, Rachel Trevor-Morgan

    3. Pearl brooch, £125, Merola

    4. Fabric crystal clasp clutch, £870, Roger Vivier

    5. Suede heels, £395, Emmy London

    6. French tweed coat, £1,079, Lalage Beaumont

    7. Diamond halo studs, £3,775, De Beers

    8. Sequin headpiece, £575, Merve Bayindir at Net-A-Porter

    9. French tweed dress, £599, Lalage Beaumont

    10. Leather pumps, £660, Roger Vivier


    An incredibly flattering choice for mothers and a foreign favourite – especially at glamorous American weddings where the ballgown is as much a feature in broad daylight as it is at an evening event. Hillary Clinton chose Oscar de la Renta to place her centre stage at her only child’s New York wedding in 2010; while the Duchess of Wellington stole the show in a breathtaking and deeply elegant blush gown for her daughter Charlotte Wellesley’s Spanish wedding in 2016. Like so many offshore trends they find a welcome place onto UK soil. American socialite Kathy Hilton made her debut as a mother of the bride in a pale blue gown for her daughter Nicky’s 2015 London wedding. Interestingly her pale blue gown was designed to match the bridesmaids (including her daughter, a recent Tatler cover, Paris) but in a structured fabric to contrast against their draped chiffon dresses. Ballgowns often feature at English weddings which host black-tie evening receptions such as at Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in 2019.

    Pictured: Chelsea Clinton with her mother, Hillary Clinton, on her Wedding Day in 2010 (above) and Paris and Kathy Hilton on Nicky Hilton’s Wedding Day, 2015

    1. Chiffon gown, £2,990, Ralph & Russo at Net-A-Porter

    2. Ruby, diamond and gold earrings, $25,500 (£18,000) Nour by Jahan

    3. Off shoulder ruffle gown, £3,260, Zuhair Murad at Harrods

    4. Satin mules, £870, Roger Vivier

    5. Glitter clutch, £750, Jimmy Choo

    6. Ruffle sleeve gown, £1,095, Safiyaa at Harrods

    7. Rose gold garnet ring, £1,810, Boucheron

    8. Silk-dupion belted gown, £1,490, Rasario at Net-A-Porter

    9. Crepe cape gown £975, Marchesa Notte at Net-A-Porter

    10. Satin gown, £1,490, Reem Acra at Net-A-Porter

    11. Glitter pumps, £550, Jimmy Choo


    Another two-piece style, though less grand. It is often favoured by mothers who want a smart style with a touch of the more relaxed to it. It is ideal for summer weddings for those who want to focus on their dress but feel they need a jacket on-hand for church or should it get cold. Fascinators work just as perfectly as hats and looks can be elevated with more formal accessories, just like what the Princess Royal did with her matching pearl earrings and choker jewellery set, along with a pair of smart cream gloves at Zara Tindall’s 2010 wedding.

    Pictured: The Princess Royal arriving at her daughter Zara’s wedding (above) and Candida Leslie arriving at daughter Rose Leslie’s wedding, 2018

    1. Tweed dress, £1,630 and tweed Jacket, £1,440, St. John at Harrods

    2. Tweed cropped jacket, £1,440, St. John at Harrods

    3. Topaz Necklace, £1,200, Butler & Wilson

    4. Leather Clutch, £1,280, Valextra at Matches Fashion

    5. Leather rose slingback, £800, Valentino Garavani at Matches Fashion

    6. Silk patterned dress, £970, Isabel Marant

    7. Leather gloves, €85 (£73), Sermoneta Gloves

    8. Patent pumps, £590, Jimmy Choo

    9. Cotton feather white jacket, £595, Caroline Charles

    10. Disc hat, £780, Edwina Ibbotson

    11. Raw silk high collar jacket, £629, Lalage Beaumont

    12. Crepe red dress, £225, The Fold

    13. Crystal embellished slingback, £740, Miu Miu at Matches Fashion


    Whether it is worn for cultural reasons or for the wedding style such as an affair abroad, formal kaftans are incredibly glamorous and in many ways a relaxed version of the ballgown. Indeed Queen Noor of Jordan wore a beautiful green version for her daughter’s intimate British lockdown nuptials last year. Conveniently they suit any shape or size and the nature of its bohemian style (think Talitha Getty) allows for more adventurous accessories such as avant-garde hair pieces. There’s only one rule – never style a kaftan with a hat. The two simply do not mix. On the other hand diamonds and other precious jewels bring out the best in this look.

    Pictured: As seen on Queen Noor of Jordan, at the wedding of her daughter, Princess Raiyah of Jordan, 2020

    1. Gold leather leaf headpiece, £2,500, Jess Collett

    2. Crystal embellished duchesse-satin gown, £3,025, Reem Acra at Net-A-Porter

    3. Crystal rose clutch, £5,850, Judith Leiber at Harrods

    4. Belted crepe kaftan, £760, Taller Marmo at Net-A-Porter

    5. Crystal hair clip, £360, Gucci at Harvey Nichols

    6. Pearl bangle, £325, Merola

    7. Pearl mule, £1,295, Jimmy Choo

    8. Embellished satin gown with belt tie, £3,750, Marchesa at Net-A-Porter

    9. Leather heels, £535, Aquazzura

    10. Linen kaftan, £3,600, Gucci at Matches Fashion

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