What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be?

Picking the right color for your mother of the bride dress is about more than what’s flattering on you. Learn more about the dos and don’ts of mother of the bride dresses.

By The Zola Team

Mother of the Bride Dress
Photo by NST Pictures

One of the questions we hear a lot of mothers of brides ask is what color dress they should wear on their daughter’s big day. It can be challenging to figure out, especially with so many different opinions online. To help, we’ve made a definitive list of the dos and don’ts. Keep reading to find out what color the mother of the bride dress should be.

Do: Complement the Bridal Party

Whether your bride wants you to match the bridal party, wear a shade in the same color family, or has no preference at all, it’s always good practice to make sure your dress complements the colors of the wedding party. You will be in a lot of photos with the wedding party, so your dress color mustn’t clash with those around you. Neutrals are usually a safe bet and can be embellished with metallics or contrasting neutrals for a more interesting design. You can read more about complementing dress colors here [LINK].

In addition to color, your dress should also complement the bridal party’s in terms of style and formality. For example, a formal evening gown would look out of place (and probably be uncomfortable!) at a daytime beach wedding. So, be sure you have a clear understanding of these elements before shopping for your mother of the bride dress.

Don’t: Be Too Bold

What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be? Photo Credit // Rengim Mutevellioglu

Similar to the above, there are a few colors you may want to avoid. More specifically, avoid anything too bold or flashy that would detract from your daughter as the focus of the day. Attention-grabbing colors like vibrant orange, bright red, or vivid yellow may not be the best choice.

That said, you’re not limited to muted neutrals and pastels either. When looking for a dress, you should explore a variety of colors, taking into account the planned environment of the wedding, as well as the time of year you will be celebrating.

These guidelines will not only help you find an appropriate color but can also be good advice in terms of style. Though you aren’t relegated to matronly dresses, you should aim to find something age-appropriate. If you’re unsure about the dress you’ve selected, ask your daughter what she thinks.

Do: Flatter Your Skin Tone

Finding colors that look good on you is usually a matter influenced by skin tone. Generally speaking, those with warm skin tones will look beautiful in warmer colors, while those with cool skin tones will radiate in cooler colors.

Warm Skin Tones: The best colors for these women reflect the colors of nature. Turn to hues of red, peach, coral, orange, amber, gold, and yellow. You will also look gorgeous in "warmer" shades of cool colors, such as olive, moss, orchid, and violet-red. The neutrals that work best for you include taupe, cappuccino, cream, and mushroom gravy. With a warm skin tone, you should avoid chilly colors, like icy blues, or rich jewel tones, as they can wash you out and make your skin look gray.

Cool Skin Tones: The best colors for you are bright blues, emeralds, and deep purples along with frosty shades of lavender, ice blue, or pink. For a warmer shade, you can try ruby, bright rosy red, or super-pale yellows. However, it’s best to avoid orange, tomato red, and strong yellows, which can clash with your skin completely. To go more neutral, seek out cool gray and navy.

Need help determining your skin tone? A simple at-home test may help. Simply look at the inside of your forearm and check the appearance of your veins in natural light. If your veins look blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone. Veins that appear green, or a greenish blue, indicate a warm skin tone. If you still aren’t sure, ask a shop assistant at the bridal boutique or any makeup counter to help you.

Don’t: Match the Bride

What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be? Photo Credit // Kara Evans Photographer

Perhaps the biggest no-no for a mother of the bride, or any guest at the wedding for that matter, is to match the bride. When searching for a dress color, this simply means to stay far away from shades of white, especially pure white, ivory, and Champagne colors. If you’d like to stick with a neutral color, try greys, taupe, beige, or other off-white hues. However, if you know the bride has opted for a non-conventional color, you may be able to explore shades of white—just get her approval first.

Do: Be Comfortable

While you want to be considerate of your daughter’s desires and coordinate the color of your dress, you will ultimately want to be comfortable in what you’re wearing. Trust us: The last thing you want to be thinking about when you’re trying to celebrate your daughter’s marriage is whether or not you look good in the color you’re wearing.

If your daughter is insistent that you wear a particular color that you don’t feel your best in, talk to her about it. Approach this conversation with another idea that complements the vision she’s trying to create. Who knows, you may show her something she hadn’t thought of.

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