You must let them choose their own outfits, but it makes sense to discuss with them what they plan to wear. Helping your mother to shop for a special occasion outfit can be a really good opportunity to bond with them and they will probably welcome some support. Of course, what you want to avoid is one of the mothers trying to outdo the other one, or worse, for them to each choose the same outfit.

The colour of the outfit is a tricky area. They’ll probably want to fit in with the colour palette and style of the wedding, but they don’t want to be mistaken for a bridesmaid, so they’ll need a colour that tones with the bridesmaid’s dresses, but is not identical. At the same time, they’ll want a colour that flatters their skin tone and hair colour.

The style of the outfit should be flattering but not revealing. Even if they she has managed to maintain trim figures, the emphasis of their clothes should not be on displaying her as a sexy woman, but as one who is graceful and stylish. Most mature ladies look better in sleeves, even if the sleeves are short, and the hemline should be on or below the knee. They will be wearing this outfit for a long time, so it needs to be comfortable without compromising on style. This means that if it is a summer wedding, they will want to feel cool. In winter, it may be cold outside, but a throng of people indoors can soon make a room hot and stuffy. This means a matching coat or jacket that can be removed indoors would be ideal.

Mother of the bride outfits can be hired or bought and it is worth considering whether this outfit would ever be worn again. Hire shops will also have a plentiful supply of hats, fascinators, costume jewellery and even shoes. Making the most of a mature figure requires clever tailoring, though, so choose a dress hire shop that can make alterations or have a dress or suit made to measure. This is a very special occasion after all. The most conventional option is a tailored dress with a matching jacket or coat, matching shoes and a hat or fascinator. The reason that this has become a traditional choice is that it is suitable for all ages and body types and is comfortable to wear. With this kind of outfit, the fabric is key. It needs to be something that marks out the outfit as one for a special occasion, so silk, satin, chiffon (or perhaps for a winter wedding, velvet), possibly with lace, possibly floral, but not country-cottagey.

But what if your mum’s a punk rocker or a goth? The chances are, if you love her, you’ll love her to express herself through her clothes. If she’s outrageous, that might make the wedding more fun. Whatever her personal style is, just don’t let her turn up in crimplene slacks!