Advice: Dressing the mother-of-the-bride (or groom)

06 Oct 2014

Advice: Dressing the mother-of-the-bride (or groom)

The beautiful Ian Stuart Blewcoat boutique recently opened in central London. The unique concept of the salon is to offer a beautiful collection of extra-special gowns and outfits for women of all ages- for three generations. Many women go into the store seeking the all important 'Mother-of-the-Bride' outfit. Below, Ian Stuart offers his advice to women looking for that special outfit.

Image gallery

Image gallery

Why do you think women find it hard to dress for a special occasion such as a wedding? What are the obstacles they face?

One of the biggest obstacles women face when shopping for special occasion wear is their own perception of their bodies. I have found that women can be uncomfortable showing off their figure, either because they are not confident with it, or it’s not practical to do so. Built in corsetry, as I use in my gowns, can have a dramatic impact on a woman's shape, creating a flattering silhouette for all shapes and sizes. I often see women who are convinced they won't look good in an occasion wear dress, in tears because they feel like a million dollars.


What style tips do you recommend for more mature women who want to look really glamorous but dress age appropriately?

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. For example, I'll design a magnificent gown, that is sexy and dramatic, but I will add sheer sleeves to cover arms and elbows - you don't have to compromise on style to cover up.


Do you have any tips for stylishly taking your outfit from day to night?

As well as thinking about style, you do need to consider the functionality of your outfit. So perhaps find a matching jacket and wrap which is great for changing weather. I keep this in mind when I design gowns - I often add sleeves and a jacket which can be taken off later in the evening.


Do you have any tips for which dresses/styles suit different body shapes?

Ruching and pleating are great for any woman who feels she wants to disguise any lumps or bumps, the extra fabric gives support and again, inbuilt corsetry in a gown gives every woman a nipped in waist, which I think is essential in enhancing any woman's body shape. 1950s inspired shapes are a good look to go for if you are worried about slinkier styles. The fuller skirt looks amazing on all shapes, as it gives the illusion of an hour class figure.


Do you think the current market caters well for women of all ages when it comes to glamorous dressing?

There are ways for women of all ages to dress glamorously, and they will definitely find something if they look hard enough, but what I think the market lacks is a designer who specifically designs with all generations in mind, and adapts designs to suit different ages - this is what I have tried to do. Experience has taught me that women's bodies change significantly as time passes, and start to require different functions from the clothes that adorn them.  When I design, I don't just draw a beautiful dress. I am thinking; 'will this cover problem areas’, ‘will this make a women feel confident’,  ‘is she getting the right support’, ‘will this flatter her figure', and I build a glamorous design on these foundations.


What tips do you have for successfully accessorising that perfect gown once you have found it?

If, in your day-to-day fashion, you accessorise well, you should carry this on into your eveningwear look, but if you don't, keep it simple. Stay true to your own style. Do you think Isabella Blow and Audrey Hepburn would have accessorised their LBD in the same way?


What is THE colour to wear to high-end events this winter?

If you're not opting for black - which you can always rely on to look like a knock out at any event,  wear a metallic like a silver, gold, steel or platinum, which ooze luxury. Beautifully beaded lace and crystal embellishments on these colours will create a  glamorous couture finish.


In terms of shoes, would you advise to prioritise style over comfort, or vice versa?

I think the cardinal sin of dressing is when a women looks like a goddess, and walks like Bambi. There's only a certain amount of pain one can put up with before it starts affecting your stride, so if you know you're not going to last through your event in your heels, find a different pair.

For my new store, I have collaborated with an Italian shoe specialist, who started life as a podiatrist. She saw the problems that women were developing through wearing painful shoes, but that there was also very little choice in the way of glamorous shoes that were actually comfortable, so she created a label that does.

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