Dressing the Mother of the Bride: Our Best Tips!

As seen in Southern Weddings  By Emily Thomas

One of our favorite parts of the Southern Weddings community is that it’s not just brides reading and participating, it’s moms, sisters, cousins, and friends, too! Moms, especially, come to us for advice on aspects of wedding planning that are often very different from when they got married, and we’re happy to help. Today, Terrie Tibbetts Martin, co-owner of T. Carolyn, a store specializing in mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses in Houston, is sharing her best tips for brides helping their mamas find their perfect dresses!



Encourage her to begin shopping early. Most mothers underestimate how long it can take to order a dress if the right size or color is not in stock. It’s been my experience that mothers always put themselves last, because they are busy taking care of everyone else! See to it that just this once, she thinks of herself. She should begin looking for her dress as soon as the bride has selected hers, it’s ok to begin looking for the mother’s dress even if the bride hasn’t made a final decision on the attendants’ dresses.

Give both mothers plenty of moral support. They may put on a brave face, but choosing a dress for such an important event can be stressful for moms. There’s a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to look good, and most will tell you they don’t have the same figures as when they were brides. Every mother is on a diet. Come alongside your mom and your groom’s mom with plenty of love and encouragement.

Make dress shopping a special occasion. If you’re able, plan to set aside a day to scout options with your mom or future mother-in-law at a few local stores or boutiques. Just as most brides want their moms present for dress shopping, most moms probably feel the same way! To cap off the day, take her out to lunch as a thank you for all she’s done so far with wedding planning.


Photo by Jess Barfield from Abby + Cameron’s wedding


Encourage her to wear a color she looks fantastic in. Not only will she feel great in her dress, but the wedding pictures will turn out better if everyone looks comfortable and confident. An added benefit of being open to color is that it automatically gives moms more dress options to choose from – when mothers become too focused on particular colors, they often overlook dresses that would look amazing on them. The rule of thumb is that the mothers may wear any color as long as it doesn’t clash with the bridesmaids’ dresses or the general wedding palette.

Make sure that mom feels really good in whatever dress she ends up wearing. Mothers are often so intent on pleasing the bride that they end up with dresses that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. Make sure that the dress is representative of her personality, that she truly feels great in it, and that it’s comfortable (both emotionally and physically) for her.

While the wedding day focus will be on the bride and groom and the life they’re creating together, a child’s wedding day is such a special occasion for mom and dad, too. A little extra time spent loving on mama throughout your engagement and especially as she’s choosing her dress will go a long way to making it an incredible experience for everyone!


Fashion Advice for Breast Cancer Survivors

breastcancerAs seen in, “Weddings in Houston…”

Breast cancer survivors & patients – tips & advice on looking fabulous!


Mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom are always special; it’s just that some mothers are more special than others. October is breast cancer awareness month and this article is dedicated to breast cancer survivors and those who are currently fighting and undergoing treatment.


It’s no secret that most MOBs and MOGs find shopping for a dress for the wedding notoriously stressful. Mothers who are trying to cover mastectomies, radiation burns, port-a-caths, scars, and those who suffer from lymphedema and have one arm larger than the other, obviously find the experience to be exponentially more stressful.


The Facts


You are not alone. 2.6 million women in the U.S. are undergoing treatment for breast cancer or are survivors.


The good news is that with a few minor modifications you can still wear any number of beautiful dresses. And the best part is that, executed properly, they will look like custom-designed dresses.


The most common mistake women who’ve had breast cancer make is in obsessing over necklines. Quite frequently they go overboard and will only look at dresses with ultra high necklines. This obsession blinds them to all of the beautiful options surrounding them. I often see women so fixated on covering up that they overlook styles that would look incredible on them. As a result, they end up wearing mediocre, unflattering, matronly dresses.


Knowing where to shop, when to shop and a few simple tips will make the process much less stressful and can make the difference between a dress that looks flawless and a dress that looks like it’s trying to cover flaws. A flawless dress should always look as if every design detail was intended by the designer.


Helpful Tips


The most common design challenges facing breast cancer survivors are raising necklines and enlarging sleeves. These obviously require fabric. The first option is to take fabric from the dress itself, either from the hemline, a stole or sometimes from sleeves.


When modifications require more fabric than can be harvested from the dress, it’s always best to order fabric from the manufacturer. It is important to note that there can be vast differences in the dye lots of fabrics, so it’s always preferable to order a dress with extra fabric to ensure the fabrics match.


Customization and Fabric


If you need to order a dress, it’s always best to allow 14 weeks for delivery, unless it’s at a time that is being affected by Chinese New Year, since the majority of dress manufacturing occurs in China. Chinese New Year typically affects the months of October through March. During this time, order time can extend to as much as 21 weeks, so it’s best to shop early.


It typically takes six weeks to order fabric. This is important if you’ve found a dress, but don’t have the luxury of 14 or more weeks to order another. Most people underestimate how long it takes for fabric to arrive.


Don’t worry if you find yourself in the position of having to order fabric without the assurance of a matching dye lot. Anything you receive from the manufacturer will be much closer than what you will find in a fabric shop and you won’t spend hours driving around matching up swatches.


Where to Shop


Department store dresses are mass-produced. These dresses are made all at one time in what’s known as a “cutting.” The factories in China (and a few other countries) only buy enough fabric to cut the exact number of dresses that have been ordered; therefore it’s not possible to order extra fabric for these dresses. These factories just aren’t set up to help with special requests. They work off of large numbers, plain and simple.


Your best bet in trying to order extra fabric lies with designers who are carried in specialty stores or by designers who also create bridal gowns. These designers are used to special orders and their factories have fabric on hand. They are much more user friendly and are usually happy to assist in ordering extra fabric, trim, beads, etc.


These dresses come in a range of prices, so don’t be afraid to venture outside of the department store. It’s also worth mentioning that the fabric, beads and other accoutrements that go with these dresses are usually quite reasonably priced. If you’re really in a bind, these designers sometimes have an extra stole on hand that can be shipped out quickly if you are desperate for extra fabric.


Style Solutions


I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that the most common modification needed for breast cancer survivors is raising the neckline. Don’t worry, there’s no need to be intimidated. It’s actually quite easy and it can be done in a number of aesthetically pleasing ways.


If the dress has a V-neck that is too deep, it’s easy to add fabric that retains the V shape. If the bodice is ruched, the fabric being added to the neckline can be ruched as well. Lace, net, appliqués or any other design elements from the dress can be incorporated along the neckline as well. This goes for sweetheart necklines as well.  Let me be clear, there is absolutely no reason to sew a boring piece of fabric that sort-of-matches across a neckline in an attempt to cover up.


Don’t ever be afraid of a strapless gown. It is often possible to add a large appliqué, 3-dimensional flower, or build up a crumb catcher for dimension that covers the bust. If you’ve found a strapless gown that you adore, but you’re not comfortable in strapless or need more coverage, you can easily add a single shoulder strap to create a one-shoulder gown. Not only do straps obviously help hold a dress up, they can be a great distraction from scars and help cover port-a-caths.


Plain straps are just plain boring so consider straps that are pleated or tapered. Be creative! You might even consider adding a strap that is wide in the front and separates into three smaller straps diagonally across the back. This is known as a sunburst strap and it looks amazing from the back. By using fabric, lace and beading from the dress to make the straps, you will end up with a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown that you’ll love.


If you suffer from lymphedema and have a problem with sleeves being too tight, it’s relatively easy to sew a strip of matching fabric under the sleeve to make it bigger.  This is known as a gusset. If your arm is larger than what a gusset will allow for, the sleeve can be detached, the armhole can be cut larger and a new, larger sleeve can be constructed and sewed on. No one will ever know the difference!


Once you’ve gotten used to making these simple changes, dressing for special occasions will be a snap. With these simple tips, you’ll have more choices, less stress and more fun leading up to the wedding. Remember, when it comes to your dress, you don’t have to settle. As a mother of the bride or mother of the groom you deserve to look as beautiful and confident as the bride herself.


–Terrie Martin, T. Carolyn Fashions


For more expert MOB/MOG shopping advice, and to view the season’s most beautiful wedding-day and special-occasion styles, visit T. Carolyn Fashions.



10 Top-Selling Mother of the Bride Dresses

As seen in, “BridalGuide.com…

By: Terrie Martin

Mothers of the bride and groom, this is the second-most important outfit you’ll ever wear (after your own wedding gown, of course). Every day, moms come to my store and tell me that they “don’t want to look matronly.” Their voices are almost pleading for help and they have a look of desperation in their eyes that can only be compared to that of someone being held hostage.
The good news: Thanks to the incredible diversity of dress styles, sizes, and fabrics, moms have more options than ever before. To help make the vetting process easier, I’ve selected dresses to make you look (and feel) like a million bucks at your child’s wedding! Find out what makes each one a standout with my customers and which styles are best suited for your body type.


Daymor, Style 7003

Why moms love it: This is a mock three-piece dress constructed from satin back crepe. “This gown’s forte is its embellished basket weave bodice, which creates a small waist and overall curves.” The trumpet skirt has great movement, which is perfect for your spotlight dance.

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit daymor.com for more info.





Kathy Weddings by 2Be, Style 2BE263

Why moms love it: This net and chiffon gown is perfect for the woman who has curves! “The V-neckline elongates the torso and the full chiffon skirt is good for those who carry extra weight in their lower half.” The net sleeves provide coverage for arms, but does so in a very cool and comfortable way. The tonal beading on the bodice gives off just the right amount of shimmer.

Best for: Plus sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit kathyirelandformoncheri.com for more info.




Black Label by Alyce, Style 5518

Why moms love it: This strapless drop-waist gown is nothing short of stunning. Its unique skirt is made from soft tulle and organza. Wear the matching bolero with hand-beaded lace appliqués for the ceremony, then remove it later on during the reception.

Best for: Misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit alyceparis.com for more info.





Rina di Montella, Style 1206

Why moms love it: The beading on this soft taffeta gown is exceptional—it resembles a corset shape, creating the illusion of a smaller waist. Also, this is one of the few gowns that comes with both a bolero jacket and a shawl. Available in many different color combinations.

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit rinadimontella.com for more info.





Jade by Jasmine, Style J4408

Why moms love it: Hand-beaded, three-dimensional flowers on the shoulder strap create a feminine look. Its A-line skirt has just enough fullness. This gown comes in an array of colors, so it’s easy to find the perfect match for your daughter or son’s big day.

Best for: Petites and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit jasminebridal.com for more info.





Jade Couture by Jasmine, Style K2283

Why moms love it: If Mom isn’t a fan of strapless styles, point her to a dress with exquisite lace-capped sleeves, instead. “The sweetheart neckline and ruched waist with beading are extremely flattering.” Perfect for the warmer summer months, this Tiffany chiffon dress has a beautiful iridescent sheen.

Best for: Misses and petite sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit jasminebridal.com for more info.






Jade Couture by Jasmine, Style K2283

Who says a show-stopping lace back is relegated just for the bride?








Soulmates, Style C1060

Why moms love it: Not only is this gown extremely comfortable (it’s constructed of silk and silk blend ribbon), but it also has a beautiful fit-and-flare shape. It’s got Mom covered from every angle: The jacket is longer in the back, and the “camisole provides a ‘tummy break’ for those problem areas.”

Best for: Plus sizes and some misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit soulmatesilk.com for more info.





Damianou, Style 1692

Why moms love it: Constructed from scalloped metallic yarn, this airy dress would feel right at home in a seaside bash. The cut of the jacket is very flattering on the body and looks especially good from behind. “This dress is great for women who are thick in the middle or are top heavy.”

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit damianouny.com for more info.





Ursula of Switzerland, Style 11192

Why moms love it: This vintage-inspired chiffon dress is appropriate for a destination or outdoor wedding. The diagonal layers on the skirt elongate the body, and the ruffles on the jacket add a soft, elegant touch.

Best for: Petites and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit ursula.com for more info.




Terrie Tibbetts Martin is co-owner of T. Carolyn, a store specializing in mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses. Located in Houston, Texas, T. Carolyn has been in business for over 20 years and carries 2,500 dresses for moms of all shapes and sizes. Terrie and her mother/partner, Barbara Tibbetts, star in a new television show, Mother of the Bride, which launched in January on the Slice Channel in Canada.

Accessories for the Mother of the Bride: The Finishing Touch


As seen in, “Huffington Post…


Accessories — The Finishing Touch!


One of the biggest mistakes mothers make is in breathing a sigh of relief once they have decided upon their dress, and completely forgetting about the accessories. Accessories are to a mother’s dress what a frame is to a painting. It completes the picture and draws the eye in.


Jewelry: Necklaces and earrings add sparkle around the face as mothers walk down the aisle and are viewed at the reception. The proper earring can bring out cheekbones and showcase bone structure, actually giving a lift to the face. The perfect necklace can frame the face and even elongate the upper torso. If a mother chooses to wear an asymmetrical neckline or a one-shoulder gown, great earrings paired with an oversized bracelet will truly make a statement. In addition, there’s nothing like the sparkle of crystals to bring out and enhance hand-beading and sewn crystals on dresses and gowns.


Purse: Mothers should not forget to carry a purse. Not only does a chic clutch look smart, it has the added bonus of keeping the mother’s arm in check as she’s escorted down the aisle. Most importantly, it is invaluable for carrying all those little necessities (such as a handkerchief, compact, and lipstick) needed for drying tears and touching up after the ceremony, before additional photo are taken. For the mother who doesn’t want to wear a corsage, flowers may be attached to the purse as an elegant alternative.


Shoes: Comfortable shoes are a must. For those with serious foot problems, it is perfectly acceptable to slip into a second more comfortable pair at the reception. If a gown is being worn, it is important to check before hand to make sure the hem will still be the proper length if changing into a lower heel. This will avoid possible tripping and damage to the gown itself. Speaking of damage, if a shoe with rhinestones is chosen, make sure to check to see if the stones are set in prongs. These prongs will snag and tear the hemline of a gown. If this occurs, the only way to salvage the gown is to convert it into a short dress.


If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, tune into Mother of The Bride airing back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on SliceTM.



What Petite Sizes Really Mean for Mother of the Bride Dresses

Dresses-on-Mannequins-220x141As seen in, “Huffington Post…

Many women think that “petite” means small, when in fact it doesn’t. There are a number of women who are short and plus size. They are often shocked to find out that they are “petite” — women’s petite.


What is a women’s petite?

Unfortunately, women’s petite is the most difficult specialty size to obtain. While petites in general have become increasingly more difficult to find, women’s petite have become the most difficult to find. It’s unfortunate that more manufacturers don’t realize what a large percentage of the population need women’s petites.

Of all the specialty sizes, I believe women’s petite makes the biggest difference in fit and in the end, appearance.

A regular women’s size won’t work on a petite, plus size woman. The proportions will be all wrong. The jacket will be too long, the bust line will be too low, the waist will be too long, the hips will hit in the wrong place and she will look like a little girl playing dress-up.

While most petite sizes will be shorter in length and have shorter sleeves, the length of the bodice is the major differentiator, as it’s the most difficult to correct for alterations.


Check the fit

Always look for excess fabric in the back — I refer to this as “bucokkling.” This is the telltale sign of needing a petite. I am amazed at how many women are oblivious to this. Brides, mothers and bridesmaids need to pay particular attention to this. You certainly don’t want to have this fit problem walking down the aisle — when everyone is staring at your back.


Alteration options

If you are unable to find a dress you like in women’s petite, which is quite likely to happen, there are some fixes:

• If the dress has straps, they can usually be pulled up to correct for the length in the bodice. Occasionally, the armhole may have to be cut deeper to allow the dress to be lifted properly. It is important to make sure that the straps aren’t shortened to the point where the bust points are no longer in their proper place.

• If the dress has sleeves and the back is buckling, the only option is to remove the sleeves, shorten the dress through the seam on the shoulders and sew the sleeves back on. The same applies to a jacket that is running too long waisted, as well. This would only apply to a long jacket and not a bolero jacket, as bolero jackets are already short. These alterations will prove to be more costly.

• Please note: There are certain styles in which it is impossible to shorten the extra length in the bodice. These are typically strapless gowns with no break in the bodice. A qualified consultant and/or seamstress should be able to guide you on this; but proceed cautiously, as I have seen many cases over the years where stores have assured women that this type of alteration could be performed when it actually couldn’t.


Styles to look for

An easier option than alterations is to look for less structured dresses and dresses with shorter, to the top of the hip, jackets. In this particular case it is important to remember that the more structured a garment is, the more alterations necessary to make it work for a woman who is either a petite or women’s petite.


Now that you know

With a bit of luck, perseverance and this knowledge, it is possible to find a dress perfectly suited to your proportions.

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, I invite you to tune into my new show Mother of The Bride premiering back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Slice.



Dressing the Mother of the Bride for a Destination Wedding

As seen in, “Huffington Post…”

A destination wedding can be the best of both worlds; a vacation and a wedding all rolled into one! With a bit of planning and preparation it can be easy for mothers to feel good, look great, and have a wonderful time…(Click on the link below to read more)



How Chinese New Year Can Affect Your Wedding Dress Order

year-of-the-snake-2013[1]As seen in, “Huffington Post…”

Did you know that Chinese New Year falls on February 10 and it’s the Year of The Snake? What does this do to your shopping calendar?

It’s almost that time of the year again! It’s wedding, prom and gala season — and Chinese New Year is just around the corner! You might wonder what the first three items have to do with the last, but you would be surprised to know that Chinese New Year could be the determining factor in whether you get to wear “the perfect dress… the dress of your dreams,” or not… (Click on the link below to read more)


MOB Television Show on Slice TV

As seen in, “New Runways Blog…”



Dressing the Mother of the Bride: It’s Her Day Too

dressingmotherofbrideAs seen in, “Huffington Post…”

At the end of the day, what the guests will remember about a mother is how she looked walking down the aisle as well as at the reception. A mother of the bride/groom should be allowed to choose her own dress, just as the bride chooses her own dress. After all, it’s the mother’s day too… (Click on the link below to read more)


Spring Dress Trends for Mothers of the Bride (or Groom)

springdressAs seen in, “Huffington Post…”

As a co-owner and dress consultant at T.Carolyn Fashions, I navigate the front lines of family conflict — helping moms look great and satisfying the bride’s often strident opinions. Even with 21-years in the business and 100,000 dresses sold, dressing a mother of the bride can be more challenging than dressing the actual bride!
The Spring ’13 Collection is the best I’ve seen in years! Diversity and innovation best describe the latest fashions for Mothers of the bride (or groom)…(Click on the link below to read more)


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