My son is getting married in September. When I was shopping for a dress, I saw a lot of beautiful black dresses, so I bought one. Mine is simple. It has a lovely bolero jacket covering the sleeveless floor-length gown. The jacket and bodice of the empire waist dress have a classy, textured glitter finish, and the dress is tailored and elegant.
My problem: when people ask what color I am wearing, they are shocked when I tell them the dress is BLACK. I thought the old rules of not wearing black to a wedding no longer apply. I asked the bride if she minds my wearing black — and she approves of it. That said, I don’t want to offend the guests or send the wrong message at the wedding. So should I shop for another dress?
Thank you, Beth, Mother of the Groom
First of all, congratulations on your son’s engagement! This is such an exciting time, and I’m impressed that you are sensitive to the bride’s opinion on the color. It’s true that years ago people assumed if you wore black, it meant you disapproved of the match, or that you were mourning the loss of your child, but that’s all changed.
No Black Allowed is an Old-Fashioned Notion
Black is very much accepted these days and has become popular in the past few years. It’s elegant and chic, not to mention slimming, and with so many attractive and classy black dresses out there, it’s silly to dismiss an otherwise flattering dress based on color alone.
Mother of the Bride dress etiquette says if black suits you, it can be a good option for a mother of the bride or groom gown if it is a semi-formal or formal wedding. It’s too serious for a casual wedding.
It’s Important to Get the Bride’s O.K.
I think the most important point you brought up is that you asked the bride her opinion. Since she “totally approved,” then you should put your mind at ease. If she supports the idea and you feel comfortable, then go for it. However, that being said, I want to remind you that you are going to want to look your prettiest that day, as well. I’m curious what colors look best on you?
Is Black Your Best Color?
Some women who have worn black all their lives find it makes them look tired and old after a certain age. Black can be harsh and aging because it’s so high contrast when worn next to mature complexions. It tends to accentuate lines, wrinkles, and dark circles and is usually not the best color age we age (although there are style tricks for making black more wearable after 40.) The exception is that women with deep, clear winter coloring ( dark hair and cool skin) can look stunning in black.
To help you make your decision, the next time you are getting ready to go out, and you have your makeup and hair done, put on the gown, or anything black and take a photo of yourself in it. If you like the way you look in it, it’s a keeper.
If you find that black drains you and makes you look tired, then you might want to consider returning the dress and finding another in a color that suits you. If your heart is stuck on black, look for a black dress that will put less black near your face. For example, a black dress with
- a V-neck or scoop neck, or asymmetrical neckline ( one shoulder) because it reveals more skin by your face.
- an embellished neckline to add color or sparkle near your face. For example, a jeweled, glittery, or embroidered neckline.
- A black dress with a gold or silver or blush underlay to break up the black.
If you want a dark color but have decided against black, you could try dark navy, charcoal gray, and deep brown too! They’re deep and rich but softer than black.
Here’s me talking about the myth you can’t wear black and two other mother of the bride myths.
Here are a few black mother of the bride dresses that won’t offend and are lovely for a formal or semi-formal wedding.
Good luck and enjoy this special day!
I get so many questions about this topic, and because every wedding and body is unique, I have put together an e-book for you called Tweak Your Chic: Mother of the Bride.
This e-book will give you a step by step system to make sure you are making the right choices about your dress and accessories so you can feel special and confident on that special day! Pick one up today.