We’re all familiar with the scenario of your 60-year-old mother getting married and calling upon you for styling advice, right? Okay, not a common a situation I suppose, but nonetheless my reality. Not only is my mom getting married this year, but she’s springing for destination nuptials in Hawaii.
A little background: My mom is easily intimidated by fashion. With a laid-back aesthetic, she frets over what to wear (like every woman) and feels incapable of putting anything together herself. She also struggles to find silhouettes that best flatter her body type. She rarely shops and almost never treats herself to anything expensive because she thinks she doesn’t need it (valid—and clearly not from whence I inherited my shopping habits). So, you can imagine how overwhelmed she feels as she prepares for her Hawaiian wedding. Naturally, I said 'Aloha' to the styling challenge.
In J.Mendel. Photo: Avery Matera
Fortunately, my mom had a trip planned a trip NYC over the holidays so I immediately scheduled an appointment at the Moda Operandi showroom. It would be the perfect environment for her to experience their wedding salon services—a private townhouse setting with me by her side to guide her through their edit of gorgeous gowns and accessories she’d likely never consider as a beach-bound bride-to-be. Plus, I needed a complimentary bridesmaid dress as her maid of honor and I wasn't going to settle for something humdrum. Not your everyday mother-daughter shopping excursion, but the exact fairy-tale version she deserved.
From left, Alexandre Birman heels, Edie Parker, Judith Leiber Couture and Delpozo clutches. Photo: Avery Matera
At 5’1, my mom is petite, so the first step was to ensure we didn't drown her frame. While she plans to say "I do" with her toes in the sand, she didn't want anything too bohemian or casual, instead requesting something simple with delicate detailing. For this, the Moda Operandi team helped me pre-select an assortment of elegant options including designs from J.Mendel, Oscar De La Renta and Mira Zwillinger.
Evening cocktails post-ceremony will demand accessories, so the team also brought in an assortment of sandals and clutches for her to try. I wanted to select options that she could use for more than just the big day, such as a timeless nude heel and a metallic bag that would look as stylish with jeans as they would with a wedding dress.
In Borgo De Nor and J.Mendel. Photo: Avery Matera
After a few try-ons, my mom was surprised to find she liked two silhouettes she hadn’t considered before. (Brides take note: this is often the case with wedding-dress shopping!) Both options were from J.Mendel, one featured a delicately draped high-neckline with lace insets at the waist and a romantic, plunging cowl back. The other favorite was an A-line gown with a deep V-neckline and lace detailing. While she assumed each gown would feel overly formal for the beach and unflattering for her shape, she was pleasantly surprised. The first coup!
Beachy Bridal Gowns
Scalloped Beaded Lace Blouse
Temperley London Bridal
In Johanna Ortiz and J.Mendel with Giovane jewelry. Photo: Avery Matera
Next we perused the fine jewelry selection to try a range of special, statement pieces. Planning to keep it effortless, I chose an earring with a pop of color as a modern nod to the tropical setting (that would also enjoy plenty of wear post-nuptials).
Clarita Leather Sandals
Mini Calf Bow Clutch
Cleo Satin Slides
In J.Mendel with a Giovane earring. Photo: Avery Matera
In addition to her wedding dress, she needed other bridal-inspired pieces for the other wedding events and her island-hopping honeymoon. I quickly steered her in the direction of a fit and flare midi dress by Oscar de la Renta. At first she is unconvinced, assuming the length will cut her at the wrong part of her leg and cause her to look shorter. Wrong! The flare of the skirt achieved the opposite effect, proving the length to be ultra-flattering when combined with the body-skimming silhouette. She loved the contrasting black straps which gave the dress a little extra flair, and she plans to wear it for myriad events after her wedding.
Destination Wedding Wardrobe
Flared Bow Cord Midi Dress
Oscar de la Renta
Lumino Daisy Crocheted Lace Dress
Solene Paneled Trapeze Dress
Macramé Denim Bustier Dress
In J.Mendel holding an Oscar de la Renta dress. Photo: Avery Matera
As for my gown, my mom and I both agreed that a dress in a vibrant shade would befit the location. Johanna Ortiz and Borgo De Nor make festive options that are flawless and unexpected. As I have a similar shape to my mom, I went for a few styles with either a fit-and-flare silhouette, asymmetric detailing or a flounced hem. Knowing myself, I’ll opt for a midi length as it's so versatile. I'll style it up or down to wear it everywhere from work to my summer beach vacation to the handful of weddings on my 2018 calendar.
In Johanna Ortiz and Oscar de la Renta. Photo: Avery Matera
Victoria Falls Silk Crepe Dress
Isadora Ruffle Wrap Dress
Borgo de Nor
Flutter Sleeve Dress
Violeta Floral-Print Cotton Gown
Borgo de Nor
With the wedding just a few short months away, my mom has successfully selected her entire wedding and honeymoon wardrobes and feels inspired to experiment outside of her fashion comfort zone. She’s been sending me links to unexpected-yet-gorgeous pieces she wants to add to her closet, emboldened by our little jaunt and my encouraging—ok slightly bossy—demeanor. Her Moda Operandi bridal experience was definitely a success, and not just for her wedding, but for the way in which she now approaches her personal style with confidence. I can't think of a better wedding gift.