Casual Mother of the Bride dresses for an outdoors Fall wedding

UPDATE JULY 2020: All the featured Boden dresses are still available. GREAT NEWS – they are all reduced often to about half the original price. This is a perfect time to order one or two and try them on, if the wedding has been postponed to later in the year.

Here’s the checklist for choosing an outfit for your daughter’s autumn wedding if she holds it outside:

  • Easy and comfortable to wear all day
  • Warmer fabric
  • Longer skirt length
  • Sleeves
  • Jewel colours or navy
  • Simple dress but stunning accessories
  • No hat

An outdoor wedding during autumn can be a beautiful choice.  With a backdrop of foliage turning to gold and deep red, there will be memorable images from the day.

For the Mother of the Bride and Groom, and for guests too, the question is: ‘But what should I wear?’

Think about the weather

An outdoor wedding means unpredictable weather just about everywhere. Bright sun, winds, storms, rain or just plain chilly.

The couple will certainly have plans in place if the weather is very bad but even so guests need to choose an outfit with changeable weather in mind.

The emphasis now is on chic, casual comfort.  Don’t buy anything that creases in case there’s a spot or two of rain before you get to shelter.  Once you sit down to eat those damp creases will be irritatingly obvious.

Think ponte, jersey and other fabrics with a slight stretch.  Look for a cut where the skirt drapes well.

If summer weddings are all about mothers in chiffon and lace, the fall brings the need for warmer fabrics.  If your dress is unlined consider wearing a slip. 

But don’t overdo the search for warmth.  The day might be hot and sunny and you probably won’t know until the day before (well, if you live in the UK or Northern Europe anyway!)

Even if there’s a nip in the air as the couple pledge their troth you will no doubt be inside for much of the reception afterwards.  With lots of people, emotion, food and dancing it’s easy to overheat, especially if you’re fifty plus.

So take care not to choose a winter outfit.  You can always pop on a jacket or a fine wool stole.

Go for a midi dress

For a summer do we loved skirts on or just above the knee with bare legs and strappy sandals showing our painted toenails to perfection but for the fall this style just doesn’t look right.  Now it’s lower hems – anything from over the knee to mid or lower calf.  So don’t be tempted by those sale items left over from summer

For shoes don’t go too clumpy or wear boots (unless it’s a themed wildwest affair) but otherwise your longer skirt will go well with any heel height.

And when you change into flats for the dancing a mid-calf or longer frock will look right on trend.

But, just a word of warning.  A longer skirt demands your very best posture.  It’s so easy to hunch up and add ten years to your age in a midi dress.  So stand really tall and show a striking silhouette from your head right down to your shoes.  This is your red carpet day – be confident and radiate happiness.

Three-quarter sleeves

Unless you are going to wear a jacket you should look for an outfit with sleeves.  This could be a short sleeve if you live somewhere warm or intend to have a jacket to take on and off during the day.  But most useful for those of us mothers living in cooler climates will be a three-quarter sleeve.  Long sleeves, to the wrist, can look great but just check you don’t look dressed for the winter. 

Showing a little skin, whether at the neck or the lower arm, always looks feminine and will tend to make you look taller.  At 5’2” I find if I wear a midi dress with a high neck and long sleeves I look swamped.  The same neck and sleeves can look very cute on an above the knee frock but the longer length needs that extra highlight of bare skin.

Autumn tints

Forget those off-white, beige and pastel outfits.  Autumn colours are always jewel tones or navy.  Think of the difference between the bright green of trees in spring and the russets and reds of fall. 

But these colours can look a bit too reserved for a special day.  They need enlivening with gorgeous accessories. 

Try your chosen dress with brighter coloured shoes and bag than you would normally wear.  Or choose one of the prints that are popular for accessories right now.  Step outside your usual style to demonstrate to the world your confident and fun side.

Buy gold

And take your time finding just the right jewellery.  A summer wedding calls out for pearls and silver jewellery.  An autumn wedding demands gold and coloured gem stones. Instead of blowing almost all of your budget on the dress, think about a less expensive dress with more expensive jewellery.  You won’t regret it.

Don’t hold back on the size of jewellery either.  As our faces and skin age and lines appear we need larger pieces of jewellery.  The jewellery needs to stand out as the focus of attention, so that our skin texture takes second place.  Wear a delicate little necklace and it will simply disappear if your neck is anything less than perfect.

Enough with the hat already

Finally a note to Mothers of the Bride or Groom in the UK.  It’s long been expected that mothers will wear a fancy hat and guests will generally wear frivolous ones or fascinators.  But with the end of summer comes the occasional windy day.  So forget the hat.  The last thing you want to be doing is holding on to it for dear life all day.  Instead focus on earrings and/or your necklace.  And use the money you’ve saved to get a beautiful casual cut and warm colour at your hairdresser a few days before the wedding.

Boden? Did you say Boden?!

I’ve chosen all the outfits in this article from a single designer – Boden.

It certainly isn’t the first name that pops into your mind when you think occasionwear.  But Boden are masters of casual.  And from their tiny beginnings of bright spotted and striped weekend and holiday clothes they have grown to an international company with an extension of their casual wear into the market for work-into-evening fashion.

Their Fall 2019 dresses are smart enough for the office and elegant enough for a drink or meal afterwards but with some stunning jewellery they become beautiful occasionwear for a more casual event.

Their fabrics are easy to wear and most are washable (We LOVE this because we know we’ll be wearing a Boden dress for years).  Jersey and ponte are popular right now in their catalogue.  This makes for items that cling nicely over your bust then drape well in the skirt.  A good combination if you are apple or pear-shaped.

The designers at Boden really understand that we are all different shapes.  So their dresses come in petite, standard and tall and sizes UK 6 to UK 22.  (No more taking up the hem for shortie me, thank goodness.  Hemming is not so easy with stretch fabrics.)

A word of caution – don’t buy your jacket from Boden, their range is all styled for leisure.  And don’t get side-tracked by their lovely prints.  They are great for meeting up with a friend for coffee but they don’t cut it for a wedding. 

Look at their one-colour items and decide which shape will most enhance your figure type.  Once the dress is ordered you can turn your attention to how you are going to have heads turning as you take your seat for the ceremony. 

Yes, it’s time for jewellery shopping! 

So go on treat yourself. Buy a beautiful piece of jewellery – something much better than you’d normally afford.  After all, you will be wearing it, like the dress, for years to come.

Violette is fully lined. It has a stretchy fit and a flare at the knee. Wear it with a bold necklace and your hair up or tucked behind to show off the lovely neckline.

Violet Ottoman in Broad Bean has a fitted top but a flared skirt – ideal for concealing heavier hips as the skirt has enough length to avoid sticking out awkwardly. Choose a really special belt and some eye-catching elegant earrings.

Jessica is a fitted dress with a broad tie belt that defines your waist whilst smoothing out any little bumps in that area. It will look super with a shortish jacket which you can remove when the dancing starts. The simple neckline needs a statement necklace that can be seen easily even with a jacket on. This will turn it from officey to elegant in a heartbeat.

In vibrant plum, Florence is a slinky polished little number that will attract admiring glances all day and into the evening. But like all these dresses it’s just a tad too simple as it is. So try it with a variety of belts – wide belts, soft leather tie belts and contrast belts.

This dress is made for dancing with its beautifully draped fuller skirt. Lighter weight than most autumn dresses it is, however, fully lined. Wear bright heels and buy a bright wrap in case the weather is cool.

With a ruched waist and full drapey skirt this is a jersey dress that will look great on almost everyone, whatever their shape. The neckline and fitted top has a feminine ballerina look that makes it ideal for a casual wedding. I’m not fond of the boots though, you can easily look frumpy if you’re over 50 and wear ankle boots with a midi dress. But this dress will look sensational with heels. And go much more extravagant on the jewellery.

Boden sells across the world. The links in the captions take you to the full descriptions, price and reviews on the UK site and from here you can select your country and currency.

Remember that all these dresses will look fabulous for smart-casual occasions for years to come. And check out Boden for their legendary sales too.

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