After helping Grandy find her outfit for our wedding this past weekend, I received several requests to share outfit ideas for the mother and grandmother of the bride on my blog. My mom has been my workout buddy for the past couple months and doesn’t want to start looking for wedding outfits until she’s lost a little more weight (she’s looking amazing!) but I’ve been saving lots of ideas for when it’s go time! I’m structuring this post by concept — button down shirt and ball skirt, long dress and shoulder wrap, and topper coat with pants — and then linking items at various price points for each outfit idea. Keep in mind that we’re having an island wedding that’s a little less formal but I’ll add a few dressier options at the end of the post for those of you going black tie.

mother of the bride outfit idea

mds stripes ball skirt

carolina herrera ball skirt

mds stripes navy and white stripe ball skirt

hayley sarno in an mds stripes ball skirt

mds stripes ball skirt and striped maxi dress

This wedding outfit idea is for moms and grandmothers who don’t want to show a ton of skin (though let’s be serious, I would 100% wear any of these!). It’s a look perfected by the likes of Carolina Herrera and MDS Stripes and honestly the direction I’ve been nudging my own mom in! It may seem a little too informal for some weddings but I really think you can make it as fancy as you like depending on the color of the shirt and fabric on the skirt. For instance, a navy button down shirt with a silk ball skirt will read more formal than a white button down shirt with an oxford stripe ball skirt.

I’m sure some of you will ask whether it’s appropriate to wear white on top as a wedding guest and while I’d never try it as a guest at a friend’s wedding, I wouldn’t be the least bit offended if my mom or grandmother wore a partially white outfit to my wedding. It’s really a matter of personal preference and since I think most moms and grandmothers ask for the bride’s input on what to wear, you have the final say!

Button down shirts:

J.Crew perfect shirt ($69)

Thomas Mason for J.Crew tuxedo shirt ($138)

Theory button down blouse ($245)

Karl Lagerfeld pussy bow silk crepe blouse ($365)

Ball skirts:

J.Crew seersucker ball skirt ($188)

Lilly Pulitzer silk skirt ($198)

Lauren Ralph Lauren mixed media gown ($284)

Milly bow back maxi skirt ($895 $249)

Petersyn poplin skirt ($335)

MDS Stripes drop waist skirt ($695)

MDS Stripes drop hem skirt ($795)

MDS Stripes inverted pleat skirt ($895)

Peter Pilotto colorblock skirt ($995)


lela rose mother of the bride dress

boden navy lace dress

katie ermilio coral dress

*images from Lela Rose, Boden, and Katie Ermilio

If your mom or grandmother would be more comfortable in a dress, I’ve found several options that aren’t too revealing (harder than it seems!) but that also don’t scream mother or grandmother of the bride. All of them could be covered up a little on top with a simple silk cashmere wrap, which is nice to have on hand in the event of an evening chill anyway.

Long dresses:

Lauren Ralph Lauren off the shoulder gown ($160)

Lauren Ralph Lauren stretch crepe gown ($160)

Lauren Ralph Lauren belted mock neck dress ($170)

Lauren Ralph Lauren taffeta gown ($280 $196)

JS Collections illusion panel gown ($220)

Laundry by Shelli Segal off the shoulder gown ($225)

Boden lace dress ($250)

Halston Heritage racerback satin slip dress ($295)

Camilyn Beth long gown ($375)

Milly striped A-line dress ($595)

Shoulder wraps:

J.Crew silk cashmere wrap ($78)

Lilly Pulitzer tassel wrap ($78)

Nordstrom lightweight cashmere scarf ($99)

MDS Stripes everything scarf ($145)

mother grandmother of the bride wedding outfit ideas with pants

st. john knits black lace topper

white tweed topper with white pants

st. john knit suit with topper

*images from St. John Knits

This is what Grandy will be wearing for our wedding and the look suits her to a T! The topper coat is dressier than a cardigan and ones with a longer length make it feel more like a dress than a top and pants. If it’s warm and there’s a chance of having to remove the topper, I suggest buying either a lightweight shell or a sleeveless silk blouse to wear underneath.

Topper coats:

Neiman Marcus jacquard topper ($295 $70)

Boden striped topper ($270 $216)

J.McLaughlin gold button topper ($268)

Talbots pink topper ($329 $289)

Misook tweed topper with fringe trim ($498 $298)

Lafayette 148 tweed topper ($698)

St. John piqué knit topper ($1695)

Slim pants:

J.Crew Martie pants ($120)

J.McLaughlin Newport pants ($145)

St. John ankle pants ($395)

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  1. My mother in law wore a Carolina Herrera skirt and white poplin button down for my black tie reception and it was perfect. (I too wore Carolina!)

  2. this is SO helpful – my mom and mother-in-law-to-be are just starting to look (september wedding too!) and i’m going to send them some of these ideas; thank you!