Can the Mother of the Bride wear a Pantsuit?

In Style over 50, Weddings by Joni

Today everyone is buying a jumpsuit so why not ‘jump in’ too and try on one of this season’s creations. Structured and stylish or floaty and feminine – you’ll find plenty of choice in the stores for this year’s wedding.

6 reasons to wear pants to the wedding

If you wear pants to a wedding:

  • You can walk elegantly up a flight of stairs without having to use one hand to hoist a long skirt, so no clutch bag/purse problems. 
  • You can cross your legs if you feel like it. And bend down to pick things up or even scramble under the table to haul out that naughty toddler without revealing more areas of yourself and your underwear than you wish to.
  • You can easily get in and out of cars, even if people are snapping pictures of you. 
  • You won’t feel rooted to the same chair all evening because you’re aware that if you get up that close-fitting dress will have a million creases drawing attention to your tummy. 
  • Nobody sees your legs. Swollen ankles or varicose veins can make us feel awkward wearing a dress.  But a pant suit covers the lot. And that should put a big smile on your face.
  • Pants say you dare to be different.  Guests see a woman who has the self-confidence to wear what she looks good in.  And it feels wonderful to be treated like that.  And that’s why you’ll look so special in the photos.
Pink sleeveless jumpsuit by Boden ideal for a young at heart Mother of the bride or wedding guest
Clarissa Jumpsuit by Boden – sites for UK, USA, Australia and Europe

This soft, floaty design from Boden is perfect for a young-at-heart Mother but if fuschia – they call it Tutti Frutty – is not your thing try it in navy. It comes in Petite (hurray!) and Regular from size 6 to 18. Just imagine it with a silky stole or a short boxy jacket. It has that nod to the Jackie Kennedy style that always seems to look good. (Jan 2021. May no longer be available but check the Boden site – they always have easy-to-wear smart fashions ideal for casual weddings)

A jumpsuit is a take on the original outfit that parachutists wore in the Second World War. So it’s easy to move in, covers most of you and is laid back. But don’t let fear of setting foot in foreign surroundings worry you at today’s wedding venues. You’ll fit right in and just love how elegant you feel.

To balance out the covered legs you’ll look best if you wear a sleeveless jumpsuit and remove your wrap or jacket as soon as the weather or religious ceremony permits.

And don’t underestimate how much taller you’ll look in this long silhouette.

Is a pantsuit dressy enough?

Personally I was feeling a bit nervous about choosing a dress for my daughter’s wedding when she announced the date. I’ve got used to wearing pants/trousers for just about everywhere I go these days, so I decided to check out wedding forums to find out what people were saying about pants instead.  Here’s what I found out.

 ‘Can the mother of the bride wear pants to the wedding?’  These days it is perfectly acceptable and very fashionable to wear a pantsuit (or trousers in British English) when you are Mother of the Bride. 

From celebrity parties to back yard celebrations mothers everywhere are apparently sporting fun, chic and elegant pants to celebrate their daughter’s wedding.

However I did come across one woman who wasn’t so sure if her mum’s pantsuit was dressy enough.  So do talk to your daughter about the dress code before you decide what to wear. 

The truth is our daughters just want us to enjoy their big day, to relax, smile and feel at ease.  If it’s easier to do that in pants then that’s what to wear.

And if you have any lingering doubts that your daughter may be disappointed that you will not be wearing a dress, then get her to come shopping with you. 

Whether you’re tramping round the shops and trying outfits on or ordering online, get her involved at an early stage.  She’ll be honest about the styles you should try and can help you decide on exactly which outfit looks best from every angle. 

What type of pants are best for a wedding?

You’ll find high street shops and designer boutiques suggest a multitude of pant styles ideal for a mother of the bride: formal, less formal, fun, summery or warm –  and to suit all body types. 

So after selecting according to the occasion – is it a day in the country or an evening in a city? – decide what your shape is and whether you want to emphasise or minimise things such as your height, hips, and tummy.

The pant suit is trending at weddings right now so this could be a good style to try first.  A suit always looks dressy and the length and cut of the jacket can hide or highlight parts of your body. A jumpsuit can me formalized by adding a jacket and easily trips lightly into the evening dancing when you remove it.

How long should the jacket of a smart pant suit be?

Petite women – like me – look good in short jackets which end at or just below the waist.  Longer than that and we tend to look drowned.  If you have good curves you will draw appreciative glances if you go for a fitted jacket which shows just enough décolletage to look fun.    

Make sure the sleeves are not too long.  Showing areas of arm makes you look taller and slimmer. 

Tall women can wear a longer jacket and sleeves that finish on the wrist.  Make sure the shoulders are not too square if you choose a dark suit – you don’t want a military look today! 

And use bright accessories to draw attention to your face, hair, or waist – so that you look elegant rather than imposing.

All women look chic and refined in a long straight coat to the knee or just above.  And this style is especially popular with mothers of the bride as, apart from looking elegant, it covers a multitude of little imperfections such as a round tummy, heavy hips or large rear. 

Remember these coats, just like jackets, can be the same colour and material as the trousers.  But for a more youthful look find a suit with a jacket that’s sequined, embroidered, or has velvet or satin lapels.  

You can wear a suit with very little underneath to accentuate your face and neck.  Just wear a stylish necklace – pearls to look feminine and demure or something creative and large to look fashionable.

But most of us will want to remove the jacket at some point in the day before the dancing starts.  So give thought to this second look which is a pants and top outfit.

How to choose a pants and top outfit for a wedding

This is a little bit more difficult to get right than the pant suit.  But it works super well for summer and rustic weddings if you choose linens, chiffons or silks whilst sequined or silk tops look glamorous at formal and evening dos.

 If you are petite you can wear a fitted top plus wide pants for a stylish look.  You may think wide pants will accentuate your rear but this is not the case.  If they fit properly they will balance a heavy middle area and make you look good, especially if the pants are floaty. 

Wearing the same or toning colours for pants and top looks smart and allows you to show off your personality through your choice of accessories.  But don’t make these too small or your personality will come across as Little Miss Mouse.

With more space between your head and your feet you taller ladies can happily wear a different colour top with pants.  In fact this will probably be your best look.  And you can wear either a tightish top and fullish pants or a generous top and narrower pants. 

Tops can sport ruffles, bows, big collars, deep necklines, frills or wide sleeves.  You can also wear a statement belt to ensure all eyes are on you as you take your seat at the marriage service.

A pale grey chiffon pant suit shows a delicately embroidered jacket over trousers ideal for all sizes of Mother of the Bride
A very fine jacket over a top and pants from Chesca at John Lewis & Partners

Keep all the layers very fine for a summer wedding or a special evening event. This Chesca outfit shows a camisole top with fine trousers and a medium length jacket with embroidery and sequins. It manages to look elegant and feminine whilst doing a great job of disguising any areas of our arms or legs that we might prefer not to flaunt. The mesh jacket doesn’t look too covered up for a summer day and can be removed later in the evening if you feel more relaxed and start dancing.

Chesca is an excellent choice for you if you want to look stylish and up to date but you are a little heavier these days. With a very forgiving fit – most garments have a slight stretch and are styled to cover areas we worry about – Chesca clothes come in sies 12 to 24.

Do pants look as good as a dress?

We’re not talking about wearing jeans.  The pants you’ll be wearing will be designed for celebrations. But can pants make you look special?  If you buy the right ones then they certainly can.

In fact, they might make all the difference and here’s why.  To look your best you have to feel great.  Because when you feel really good you stand tall, you relax and uncross your arms, that worried little frown between your eyebrows disappears and your eyes shine. 

If you’re not really a ‘dress’ person then wearing one at such an important occasion can bring all those little signs of worry back. 

What sort of shoes should I wear with pants at a wedding?  Your checklist.

  • Choose shoes that will still feel comfortable after eight hours and a large meal. 
  • Steer clear of clumpy styles with thick heels.
  • Kitten heels, wedge heels or flats are best if high heels are uncomfortable. 
  • For narrower pants that stop above the ankle wear bright colours that contrast with the outfit or stand-out bejewelled sandals. 
  • Longer floaty pants hide your shoes until you cross your legs so why not wear open-toed shoes and paint your toes a vivid colour.
  • Avoid sling backs and very thin high heels with wide pants as they catch in the hem

Is it worth buying a pant suit so I can wear it at other times too?

If you are going to a party then your elegant mother of the bride pant suit outfit might look great.  But just remember the golden rule:  If you can imagine wearing the same pant suit to the office, then it’s simply not stylish enough for a Mother of the Bride.

This is your opportunity to shine.  You’ve done the work, now wear the kit.  Be glamourous, be fun, be elegant but above all be noticed.  

Navy sixties style neckline for this super Mother of the Bride jumpsuit.
Jumpsuit by Boden – add a wrap and a necklace or a fascinator and you’re the best dressed mum at the wedding