Your bridal gown has been ordered, your bridesmaids have their dresses and your groom has chosen his tuxedo and those for his groomsmen — but your mom doesn’t know what to wear to your wedding! Does it have to be a dress? Does it have to be formal? You're both scratching your heads wondering…What to do?

Like so many wedding packages, mother-of-the-bride attire can be traditional or not. Depending on the style of your wedding, she can choose to wear anything from a pretty sundress to a full-length gown. But what about her own style? If she’s usually jeans-and-T-shirt casual, she may not feel (or look) comfortable in a fancy gown. Or, if her own style is a bit edgy and innovative, she may feel stodgy in a conservative dress. So, within reason, let her choose the wedding outfit that makes her happy and celebrates her uniqueness.

Shopping with your mother for her wedding-day outfit is one more pre-wedding ritual for the two of you to share. Before you go, talk to her about what type of clothing she sees herself wearing on your special day. This way, you’ll both be on the same page when you hit the stores. You’ll want to start shopping far enough in advance of the wedding that she doesn’t feel rushed — you don’t want her to regret her choice late — but do wait until after you’ve chosen your gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses so that her style and color choice doesn’t clash.

Speaking of color, she should avoid white or any variation on that shade, including cream, ecru, eggshell and ivory. The mother-of-the-bride shouldn’t be competing with her daughter for attention on her wedding day. Although considered to be chic today, she might also try to stay away from black lest she be accused of being "in mourning," and definitely say no to anything too bright or garish. Think upbeat and festive, but not necessarily "fiesta!" Saturated colors tend to flatter mature women, but pastels are a good option for warm-weather weddings.

One option for mother-of-the-bride is a suit in a beautiful coordinating color that complements her skin tone. This might be either a skirt and jacket or an elegant, flowing pantsuit. Rich or delicate fabrics are usually best, but use the wedding’s level of formality as your guide. Your mom doesn’t have to stick to solids, as long as the pattern isn’t too loud and doesn’t compete with the bridesmaids’ dresses.

If your mother is tall, a refreshing alternative to suits or dresses is dressy pants and a shell, topped with a three-quarter-length coat or tunic in a brilliant color or sophisticated pattern.

Incidentally, her shoes don’t have to match her outfit, but they do have to “go” and be appropriately formal. Heels should be comfortably high, but nix the stilettos, naturally. And an eye-catching piece of jewelry would be a lovely touch.

A thoughtful wedding-day gift to your mom would be to include her in any professional hair-and-makeup preparation in which you and your bridesmaids are partaking. That way, she’ll look and feel beautiful, which will reflect wonderfully on you throughout your special day.

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