Your son is getting married, and you need a mother of the groom dress. Before you hit the stores, here are a few helpful tips.

elegant mother of the bride dress
Photo: Aidan Mattox

Talk to the bride.

She might have a specific vision for the colors and level of formality to your dress. If you don't know her well, request that your son get the information and forward it to you. They can also probably give you insight into what the wedding venue is like and how it will be styled. If the bride wants you to wear the wedding colors, don't fight it. Even if you loathe the color lavender, just buy the dress and call it a day. You may even want to contact the bride's mother to ask what she is wearing.

Black dresses are fine.

Of course, you don't want to look like you are showing up for a funeral (and certainly, if you've voiced your disapproval over the marriage you shouldn't wear this color in protest), but many of today's black dresses are perfectly festive enough for a mother of the groom dress. If you feel uncertain, ask the bride or her mother if black is okay with them.

Look to the formality of the event to guide your choices.

If the wedding is in a barn and you are getting there via hiking trail, you probably shouldn't be shopping for velvet evening gowns. Likewise, you shouldn't wear a cotton sundress to a black tie affair in the city. You want to look event-appropriate while also not trying to find the most attention-grabbing dress of the wedding.

Make sure you know what flatters you.

We all have our go-to items in our wardrobe, but sometimes we aren't clear on why we love those pieces so much. Figure out what silhouettes you enjoy wearing and what type of dress you are most likely to wear again to another occasion. Little details like sleeve length, neckline shape, and hemline length can have a big impact on how we feel about our clothes.

Visit a tailor.

Few women can buy a dress off the rack and have it look as though it were especially made for them. A so-so dress can quickly become your most prized possession with a few alterations. Just make sure when shopping to assess when desired alterations are possible, and when they aren't. For example, it's much easier for a tailor to work with a dress that is too big than one that is a bit too small.

Go shopping when you feel your best.

Dressing room mirrors and lighting are the most evil inventions ever. Do your confidence a favor and make sure to wear or bring any shapewear you might prefer, a great pair of heels, and if makeup makes you feel your best, wear it. Hit the shops at a time of day that normally works well for your energy level. If you are tired and cranky, you aren't going to think that any dress looks good.