Help me find an appropriate dress for the mother of the bride!
May 6, 2015 7:09 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to help a relative find a dress for her daughter's wedding, a dress that has very specific parameters. Where do the awesome ladies in their 70's shop for special occasion outfits that are, as my relative puts it, "suitable for someone over the age of 20"?

I need to help a family member find an appropriate dress for her daughter's upcoming wedding. My relative is in her 70's and has some very, very specific needs in regard to the dress:

-It must be knee length
-It cannot be a sheath or very fitted
-It must have either long or 3/4 length sleeves
-Nothing backless

These are non-negotiable terms, she informs me. Color is negotiable, although she would prefer navy or pink.

She is vehemently opposed to having something made by a dressmaker. Vehemently opposed. Having something made for her is off the table.

I have combed the internet in search of something appropriate, but most mother-of-the-bride dresses are modeled by 6-foot-tall 25-year-olds and do not meet the above criteria. We have tried Nordstrom, Macy's, David's Bridal, Dillard's, JC Penney, and various combinations of Google search terms, such as "pink jacket dress" and "modest mother of the bride dress," to no avail. Am I missing something? Where do ladies of a certain age and genteel sensibility go for a once-in-a-lifetime-event outfit?
posted by corey flood to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total)
Where does she live?
posted by smorgasbord at 7:13 PM on May 6, 2015

Response by poster: Los Angeles. She's open to brick-and-mortar stores but would prefer to find something online in order to save herself some driving.
posted by corey flood at 7:15 PM on May 6, 2015

When she says "cannot be a sheath" what does that mean--what part of "sheath" is the inappropriate part? The cut? The sleeves? Does she find it unflattering or uncomfortable? (because the solutions to those are opposites, in my view...)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:16 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dress Barn, or outlet mall. Dress Barn, or Talbots.
posted by Oyéah at 7:19 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just a quick perusal of the David's bridal website brings up a lot of options. Maybe the store didn't have a full selection, but you could probably order a few online and return what you don't like to the store.
posted by greta simone at 7:21 PM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

This dress, maybe? Not sure how she would feel about the lace sleeves, but it looks somewhat structured, so if she sized up it wouldn't be form fitting but would probably keep its shape nicely. (Also, if it's for a summer wedding, the lace sleeves mean she could keep her arms covered without overheating.)
posted by cimton at 7:32 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can totally understand not wanting to shop in a brick and mortar - I shop online as much as possible, myself - but I think this is one of those situations where shopping in person is just going to be much easier, as much hassle as it is. A friend of mine was in much the same situation, except she's plus sized, needed a cocktail dress, and had never owned a cocktail dress in her life, and she went in and met with a personal shopper at Nordstrom (which I know was on your 'been there' list, but in person is going to have a different selection) and not only did she find 2 amazing dresses, they were able to tailor them in house so she could get exactly what she wanted (slightly lower hemline, more modest neckline), etc. Perhaps there's someone who could drive her (if you're not local to her), and they could make a day of it?
posted by joycehealy at 7:35 PM on May 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Some independent bridal stores have a MOB rack at the back, might be worth a try?
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2015

Getting a personal shopper at Nordstrom is probably the best way to go. The service itself is free.

At most weddings I have been at recently, my friends' mothers (late 50s to mid 60s age range) tend to wear jackets with dresses. In that case, the dress underneath tends to be short sleeved, so as not to bulk up the jacket. Does this also not apply to her "must be long or 3/4 sleeved" criteria?
posted by xmts at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

Exactly knee-length, or is tea-length also okay? When she says "no sheath," does that mean it must be an A-line skirt, or are pencil or wrap skirts okay? Can it be in two pieces or have a jacket? Is she willing to have it tailored?

There are plenty of options that fit her criteria at David's Bridal (A-line MoB dresses ... several knee-length with long sleeves) -- and I know there are at Nordstrom's and Dillard's because I was just helping someone shop for a MoB dress. (You gotta overlook the models and order to measurements and be willing to tailor.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really, really like Nordstrom for dresses. They have good quality brands, and classic styles. Here are two options:
A pretty lace navy dress with a pleated skirt

A pink beaded crochet skirt dress (skirt, top, and cardi)
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:40 PM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

This dress from Soft Surroundings:
My mom (70) loves their clothes (so do I!).
posted by Sassyfras at 8:13 PM on May 6, 2015

Eshakti lets you alter the skirt length, sleeve style, neckline etc on their dresses, many of which are more work appropriate. They will do custom sizing, but you don't have to.

You could also try BHLDN, the wedding line from Anthropologie. Online, and a lot of the dresses come in multiple colours.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:23 PM on May 6, 2015

This one is navy, the sash is removable, and you can adjust the sleeves, skirt length, and neckline. Dress it up with accessories as needed.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:34 PM on May 6, 2015

Where do ladies of a certain age and genteel sensibility go for a once-in-a-lifetime-event outfit? OK I think we all realize that a very legitimate answer to this is that they're having them made, or ordering from Bridal shops and having them fitted and whatnot. Has she said why she's so opposed to this option?

How fancy is the wedding/how fancy does the dress need to be?
(The dress I linked to meets all her requirements, but isn't, probably, "special" - although it's very affordable and she could splurge on special accessories instead, which may be more enjoyable.)

Does she have a budget?

Not fitted where? Most dresses are somewhat fitted somewhere - is there a particular area she's wanting to "gloss over"? Is she petite/plus-size/in a wheelchair/etc?

Almost everything is modeled by six foot tall 25 yr olds. Is she having trouble imagining them on herself, even when she's the target demographic?

Could she afford to get several online/mail and pick one and ship the rest back?
BHLDN has this one, but it's fitted at the waist.

Googling "Conservative bridesmaid dress" looped me into the Mormon bridal industry and I quickly found this and this.

Lastly, there used to be a site where you could select a clothing item + color + sleeve/neck/length details and so on, and it would scour the web and show you items that met those requirements. Maybe someone remembers what it was called and can pipe in....
posted by jrobin276 at 9:03 PM on May 6, 2015

OK last comment (promise!) - is she opposed to having things altered? Like the Mormon dresses I linked to are floor length, having them hemmed up by "10 inches" or whatever should be fairly straightforward.
posted by jrobin276 at 9:05 PM on May 6, 2015

I don't supposed you can get her to visit a bridal shop? They would have a full selection of choices for everybody OTHER than the bride too.
posted by kschang at 9:13 PM on May 6, 2015

Assuming you meant you tried the Nordstrom website, I agree with other posters that going to Nordstrom in person and telling the (free!) personal shopper exactly what you've said here will make things super-easy. You can make an appointment and tell them all of this ahead of time so they'll be prepared right when you walk in.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:51 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

My mother found a dress at Talbots for my wedding and was happy with the selection for older women. Another option is to try separates -- my grandmother is planning to wear a blouse and long skirt to my wedding, and that can be a good choice if you can't find something you want all in one item. A jacket or sweater over a short-sleeved dress can be a good choice as well and is something my mother considered before finding something she liked better.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:15 AM on May 7, 2015

Nthing Nordstrom personal shoppers. I'm a very hard to dress person and those folks are MIRACLE WORKERS!!! Always come away thrilled!
posted by pearlybob at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here are a few that meet your criteria: 1, 2, 3, 4
posted by lock sock and barrel at 9:00 AM on May 7, 2015

I wonder if anything at J.C.Penney would suit her?
posted by anastasiav at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2015

Look at Old Pueblo Traders and their associated stores, esp. The Tog Shop and Wintersilks. Depending on how dressy your relative needs to be (and elderly people usually do get some leeway), there are some knit options and and skirts that might be more comfortable for a lady in her 70's on many of those sites.
posted by hiker U. at 4:07 PM on May 7, 2015

Did you try Lord and Taylor? This one might fit the bill. Or this. Another one here.

You say she doesn't want a sheath dress and nothing fitted. Is she looking for something loose and flowy? Can it have a waist?
posted by biscuits at 4:17 PM on May 7, 2015

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