When it comes to weddings, there is no right or wrong way to do them. Whether your kid gets married on the beach as the sun is setting or a ballroom with chandeliers glinting doesn't matter, as long as they're beaming the whole night. And the same goes with wedding guest dresses - the traditional black tie standards have eased up to allow more playful interpretations, and short mother of the bride dresses are leading the pack when it comes to party frocks with style.
When you think of a stereotypical mother of the bride dress, you might get this old-fashioned idea of what's expected: A pencil skirt is usually involved, topped off with a bolero jacket that's accented with a modest smattering of sequins or a subtle sway of fringe - but it doesn't exactly throw up jazz hands and declare that you're ready to party. And where is the fun in that? The mother of the bride is usually as excited as her daughter about getting to celebrate love, so you might as well do it up and have fun with your dress. Match the outside to how happy and colorful you're feeling on the inside!
If your style runs towards a flirtier, more playful aesthetic, take that idea of the traditional mother of the bride dress and ball it up and throw it over your shoulder because you have more options now. Get ready to party in a short frock, making it easier to bust a dance move on the dance floor and mingle around the banquet. From lace dresses with vintage Bardot necklines, to glittering minis with bell sleeves, to metallic lace overlays that will make you shimmer like a disco ball, your short Mother of the Bride dress is going to pack a lot of style. Check out some top picks below and bookmark this page for when it's time to shop - one of these might just be the dress you have been searching for!
1. Bell Sleeve Dress
Helen Dress, $320, BHLDN
According to Martha Stewart Weddings, long gone are the days the Mother of the Bride has to look matronly and covered up. No matter your age or body type, this is a day for celebration, so if you want to wear a flirty, short mother of the bride dress, have at it! You will look fabulous.
And designers agree with that sentiment. "For me, personality is much more important than ‘age appropriate’. No matter what age group a lady is, clothing should reflect her spirit, not the year she was born," designer Ian Stuart Blewcoat shared with Wedding Ideas Magazine.
This BHLDN dress proves the point: It has a mini hemline, but it looks appropriately festive with its platinum sequins, sheer neckline, and playful flutter sleeves. There is also a very similar plus size dress from Adrianna Papell that runs in sizes 14-24. Shoppers agree that it's a class act piece, where one reviewer wrote, "What a lot of detail for the cost, this dress is unlike any other. The sleeves are amazing! The dress is not too short-not too tight, but sexy. I feel sophisticated and glamorous at the same time. Its a treasure!" You will definitely feel like celebrating in this metallic number.
2. Off the Shoulder A-Line Dress
Off the Shoulder A-Line Dress, $198, Nordstrom
A lacy bodice and off-the-shoulder neckline are both sexy and elegant, letting you dress up in something you would actually want to party in. Just imagine how cute that frock will look as you take a spin with your daughter under the flashing lights of the dance floor! This short MOB dress is by designer Eliza J, and comes in sizes 14W-24W. There is also a straight size version that runs from 0-18, and a petite version that has sizes 0P-14P. It also has fun details like a built-in bra, hidden pockets, and a petticoat to keep the skirt's shape. Those who already tried the dress absolutely love it, guaranteeing you will feel beautiful while celebrating such a special occasion.
"This dress is comfortable, elegant, flattering, and true to size. I was able to dance all night at a wedding in it with no issues. I LOVE the pockets!" one reviewer shared. "This dress fits incredible. It is VERY flattering if your tummy is your trouble area. The fabric is thick (not hot) so it hides flaws. The pockets are a great addition. So many compliments on this dress. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed!!" another promised.
3. Embroidered Mesh Sheath Dress
Embroidered Mesh Sheath Dress, $188, Nordstrom
If you think that a short mother of the bride hemline might not be suitable for a wedding, designer Adrianna Papell is here to soothe your worries. The old style rules no longer apply. "Former faux pas like wearing white (risking a clash with the bride), black (indicating mourning) or red (too flashy) are perfectly acceptable now, as long as you have the bride’s blessing," she shared.
This embroidered sheath from Nordstrom is sure to get any daughter's go-ahead, where the lace-like embroidery adds an elegant, old-world feel to the outfit. If you want it to be even more dressed up, you can also buy a silk or jewel-encrusted belt to give it a little more oomph.
4. Bardot Crochet Dress
Bardot Crochet Dress, $95, ASOS
Bring a vintage touch to the wedding with this MOB mini. A warm charcoal color, the dress consists of a lace overlay that feels feminine and romantic, complete with a French Bardot neckline and fluttering bell sleeves. Sweep your hair up and let some tendrils softly frame your face, and you will feel like all romance as you sip on a sparkling cocktail and nosh on finger foods.
The nice thing about this particular dress is that it's understated but not boring, where you will still make a stylish splash but not feel like you're dressed over the top. It exudes quiet taste. And the great thing is that it's size inclusive - this particular plus size version runs from sizes 14-24, but there is also a straight size version.
5. Sequin Pattern Dress
Sequin Pattern Dress, $219, Adrianna Papell
For the mother of the bride who loves herself some sequins, this dress allows you to live out your best glitter fantasies while still looking classic. Sometimes wearing sequined dresses can veer you into New Year's Eve territory, and you don't want to look like a champagne glass headband belongs on your head at your daughter's wedding. This Adrianna Papell sheath walks the line perfectly, where the sequins create a lace-like pattern on a champagne background, and the short hemline makes it feel fun without feeling overpowering. (Not that there is such a thing as "too much glitter," mind you.)
For straight sizes, this dress runs from 0-18, and it also comes in 14-24.
6. Short Metallic Dress
Short Metallic Lace Illusion Popover Dress, $99, David's Bridal
Craving something metallic for the special day? Silvers and golds never steer a mother of the bride wrong, and choosing a short dress in such a luxurious color ensures that it won't end up looking too casual. And if you're hesitant trying on a mini hemline because you're worried it won't be dressed up enough for your special position, don't worry. According to The Knot, it all depends on what kind of wedding your daughter is throwing: "Just as with your daughter's gown, the time, setting, and season of the event will dictate the appropriate attire for you. You can get away with dressing up a notch, but donning a sequined ball gown for a champagne brunch will make you feel out of place."
So if the reception is a black tie affair, you can still wear that short mother of the bride dress - just choose one like this Adrianna Papell option where it has luxurious textures like lace and satin, is a glitzy color, and can easily be dressed up even more with jewelry and shoes.
7. Floral Sequin Dress
Floral Sequin Midi Sheath Dress, $327, Dillard's
If you love a good floral pattern, include that preference while you're out shopping with your daughter or best friend for reception dresses. This taupe floral sequin sheath from Dillard's is a lovely version because its muted colors will allow you to blend in with whatever bridal color scheme your daughter chooses, but its burst of sequins gives it some zing. It feels glamorous, but without going overboard with it.
The dress itself is comfortable and won't be constricting or pinching you throughout the reception, where it's made out of a stretch sequin material on mesh. The long sleeves are also a great bonus, since they balance out the short hemline and give you a little more coverage.
8. Poncho Dress
Jersey Sheath With Sequin Lace Poncho, $120, David's Bridal
When it comes to choosing your short mother of the bride dress, don't worry so much about what's trending at the moment and pick something that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable. “Choosing a mother of the bride outfit is so individual that it surpasses trends. The important thing is to radiate confidence and stay true to your personal style," Lorna Perrin, Brand Director at L.K.Bennett, shared with the Telegraph. "Expand your search to flattering styles that can be worn for future events, styled with new accessories to give you a new look.”
This short jersey sheath dress is a perfect example of that, where its column skirt and jaunty poncho wrap are classic silhouettes, but the plum colored sequins add a touch of festive shimmer. And you can definitely re-wear this afterwards to everything from a New Year's Eve party to a romantic dinner date on a Saturday night. Win, win! (Side note: this mini also comes in a soft peach or navy blue option.)
9. One Shoulder Sheath
One Shoulder Ruffle Sleeve Sheath Dress, $104, Dillard's
When it comes to mother of the bride dress shopping, there's no such thing as "too soon" when it comes to the search. Sure, the bride usually starts her hunt a year out, but the mom should give herself just as much ample time. “Leave plenty of time – 6 months is not too soon to start looking," Said Cyrus, co-founder and head of design at Catherine Walker & Co., shared with the Telegraph.
This one shoulder sheath is a lovely option for the woman who wants a timeless dress but with a nontraditional twist. The column silhouette is a classic pick, but the rosette buds that spill over the shoulder give the piece a charming touch. The dress also comes in a series of different colorways, letting you choose between blush, red, and navy, making it easy to coordinate with your daughter's color scheme.
10. Bell Sleeve Dress
Bell Sleeve Sequin Knit Dress, $123, Dillard's
When it comes to your reception dress, style experts recommend not only talking to the bride but also coordinating with the mother of the groom. The two of you don't have to be matchy-matchy, but photos will look nicer and the wedding party will look more put together if the two moms' outfits flow together. "It is customary for the mother of the bride to buy her dress first and to then share her choice with the mother of the groom," Brides Magazine shared. "The mothers' dresses don't have to match (unless that's what the bride wants), but they should complement each other."
This silver bell sleeve number would be an easy pick to coordinate, since its metallic hue will pretty much compliment anything you throw at it. While it's a relatively straightforward dress, the beauty in it is that you can dress it up and transform it with your accessories. Just imagine how it can change when you add a satin sash or a statement-making pair of chandelier earrings. The possibilities are endless.
From crochet column dresses to metallic minis, there are a bevy of short mother of the bride dresses to choose from. Have fun with the shopping experience and let yourself play!
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