Thought your bridal dress was the most important style choice of your big day? Wrong! There's another gown that's vying for the top spot - your mum's. Luckily Ian Stuart, one of the country's top bridal and occasion wear designers, was on hand at Sunday's <Brides> The Show to give mothers-of-the-bride the lowdown on how to find the perfect outfit. But why did he decide to branch into a mums range?
'It got to the point where mothers-of-the-bride were coming in with their daughters and asking if I could make something for them,' he said. 'They wanted to look younger and more vibrant, but were having trouble finding anything like that on the market. We started doing some bespoke pieces before deciding to launch a special MOB range. So it wasn't really my idea but my customer's!'
So, how has the collection evolved? 'The original collections were more like eveningwear and much more dramatic - admittedly maybe a bit too dramatic!' Ian said. 'Now everything is more wearable. I've been listening to real mums and putting what they want into production. Also, I've learned about the parts of the body that MOBs want to reveal and conceal, which are often very different to brides' concerns. For example, older women tend to be more concerned about their upper arms and tummies than their daughters, so I've addressed all these concerns. However, everything is still young, fun - and not at all frumpy.'
Ian also revealed what mums need to consider before they even consider trying on an outfit. 'Make sure you take into account what the bridesmaids will be wearing,' he said. 'You want to stand out in the photos for all the right reasons - not because you're wearing bright cerise and the maids are in a clashing shade of turquoise. Your outfit should complement, not go against, the overall palette so you need to know exactly what colour your daughter and her fiancé are choosing.
'But don't be afraid of colour - you don't always have to go for neutral tones. Prints also work really well although all-over patterns on mother of the bride dresses can look a bit "High Street". It's best to work prints into part of the dress, maybe just on the bodice or the skirt.'
And he also revealed how mothers-of-the-bride are willing to spend more to find the perfect dress, sometimes even more than their daughters. 'Mums are definitely spending more - and even more than the bride - on their gown,' he said. 'It's her day too - and she's prepared to spend a lot to look amazing. MOBs are also seeing their outfits as more of an investment - they'll wear a lace jacket with white jeans to dress up a casual look, while the gown itself can be paired with sandals for great a holiday style or dressed up with a fabulous headpiece and heels for a summer party.