MOB (dress) mentality 

Hands type on a laptop.

It has come to my attention that I will need a “mother of the bride” (aka MOB) dress for my daughter’s wedding. Almost since the moment of engagement, friends kept asking me if I had found a dress. Not the bride’s, mind you, mine.

I didn’t quite understand the urgency. I wasn’t worried. I know how to shop for clothing. I’ve been training for this my whole life.


My early years of shopping were spent at 1980s shopping malls. The mall, for our young readers, was a magical place populated by clothing stores, record stores and soft pretzel stands. Sometimes you could also buy an Orange Julius.

These days, malls are waning. No longer can I run up to Penney’s or Sears, ride the escalator up to “Ladies Formalwear” on the second floor, and find something suitable. When I was younger, department stores were perfect for “special occasion” dressing needs.

Impeccably coiffed sales ladies who smelled like Shalimar ruled those departments. Those ladies knew about things like skirt lengths, seasonal rules and “foundation” garments. They wouldn’t let you go out looking silly on their watch.

Today, the only stores left at our local mall cater to candles, stuffed bears and clothing for 12-year-olds. Adorable, but also more glitter on tee shirts than I can really carry off at my age.


Internet shopping is all the rage these days. I hopped online to find a dress. How hard could it be? I must have looked at hundreds of dresses across dozens of websites. To say it was frustrating would be an understatement.

My first issue is that fashion listed as “mother of the bride” dresses are shown on models with a median age of 22. What kind of nonsense is this? If these are the mothers, how old are the brides? Six? This is insane.

If you want to sell me a “mother of the bride” dress, show me a solid size 14 woman who is roughly middle aged and can no longer wear 3-and-a-half-inch strappy heels without developing a pronounced limp. This development is probably all my fault. I spent my late teen and early adult years “suffering for beauty” as I sprinted around in high heels.

I worked in an office through much of the 1990s, when “business attire” meant a skirt, pantsuit and always heels. They never bothered me a bit. My feet rebelled a few years ago. I now find myself purchasing footwear that costs more and looks far less cute. The phrase “orthopedic” is liberally sprinkled throughout.


I’ve checked various websites and not had much luck. All I need is a dress that takes off 30 pounds, looks good with bulky footwear and is suitable for any season the Midwest throws at us. Numerous “Mother of the Bride” dresses come with boxy little sequined jackets. That doesn’t seem like enough. The wedding is at the end of May.

I added “formal parka” to my search terms just in case it snows.  How hard could this be? I’m not the main attraction, after all. The bride and groom are the stars of the show. If this wedding was a play, I’m scenery. I need to look nicely trimmed in photos, but not stand out. It is not about me. Basically, I am a shrub.

The internet may be easy to shop from home in your pjs, but there is absolutely no help when you run into trouble. I need those department store ladies. Is it too much to ask that my MOB dress be simple, easy to wear and dressy without my appearing to be an aging pageant contestant?


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