Shopping for the mother of the bride

Mother of the bride can mean ghastly florals and taffeta. Lucky for you, that's not what it means at ELLE.


Poor mums, the entire genre of the mother of the bride outfit seems unchanged since the 1980s, and stylish mothers have to work very hard to find something that compliments a classic style.


Mrs Middleton in Catherine Walker and the Duchess of Cornwall in Anna Valentine

When shopping for your mum’s outfit, it’s important to think about how she can wear it again. It’s an expensive outfit and no one has spare cash to blow on a one-hit wonder these days. According to the ateliers at Bruce Oldfield, even the wealthiest clients buying couture are investing in pieces that they'll wear forever, mixed with their current wardrobe. So ask her if she can wear the dress to dinner, or the jacket with trousers. Ultimately, if it looks like an outfit that can only be worn to a wedding, think again.


After much research, we visited the following designers and boutiques and can vouch for the experience and selection.

Anna Valentine

Anna designed Camilla Parker-Bowles and Serena Linley’s wedding outfits and has a very elegant client-base. Her beautiful converted mews studio off Marylebone High Street houses ready-to-wear and examples of couture. The house signature is clean, modern lines (suggested outfit was a cream heavy lace A-line shift with navy square pockets and trim with a navy and cream lace boxy jacket). Very understated and chic.

15 Cross Keys Close, London W1U 2DN 020 7935 2050

Harvey Nichols Personal Shopping

Booking a personal shopping appointment is a great way to start the hunt. Dump your numerous bags in the swish private rooms and sit down for a coffee with your stylist to discuss the brief, before wandering out on to the shop floor for suggestions. Your stylist will get your sizes if they aren’t already on the rails and offer advice about which collections are dropping into store when. It’ll summarise what so many ready-to-wear designers have done and, unlike Harrods, who demand a minimum spend of £2,500 on the same day (outrageous), it’s free.

Available nationwide

Catherine Walker

Carole Middleton’s elegant Catherine Walker outfit for William and Kate’s wedding personified every mother of the bride’s vision for their own big day, and the atelier has been flooded with those wanting a similar vision. Since Walker’s death in 2010, the house continues with the fluid lines and elegant aesthetic she created. It’s worth popping in at sale time, when couture coats worth £3,000 can be reduced to £500.

65 Sydney Street, London SW3 6PX 020 7352 4626


Bruce Oldfield

Bruce has been in the ready-to-wear and couture game for over 35 years and is renowned for giving mothers (and brides) an experience and exquisite result they’ll never forget. Unlike many couturiers, Bruce leads your appointments in the lovely boutique on Beauchamp Place so you really feel that it’s money well spent. With an intuitive eye, he sketches so many ideas, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Be clear about your budget from the start and he'll design to accommodate. For range, service and atmosphere, this is where my mother chose for her outfit.

27 Beauchamp Place, London SW1 1NJ 020 7584 1363

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