Once you start your search for the perfect mother-of-the-bride or groom dress, you may be unsure of which direction you want to go. Yes, elegance is key but what about short or long silhouettes? Or ensembles with sleeves or no sleeves? While the bride will likely be there to guide you through your search, it’s best to go into the process with a clear picture of what you’d like to wear. One way to do this is by looking at photos of past celebrities, specifically images of Princess Diana, the ultimate mother-of-the-bride and groom style icon.
Whether you’re looking for a bold print or a simple black gown, you’re sure to find an abundance of inspiration from one of her regal outfits. And while most of Princess Di’s looks lean more formal, there’s always room to style an option to fit your personal preferences (in addition to the dress code, venue, and season). Therefore, in honor of the late princess and her extraordinary style, we’ve rounded up five of her best looks, along with shoppable options—for both the mother of the bride and groom—inspired by each dress.
For a gala at The Tate Gallery in London, Princess Diana stepped out in this black sequin gown designed by Jacques Azagury. While the dress had enough shine on its own, she packed on the glam by pairing it with a striking emerald and diamond choker necklace and diamond earrings. The princess, who always knew how to balance sparkle with elegance, also styled the gown with black pointed-toe heels and a plain black clutch.
Best Knit Option
St. John Sequin Knit Scoopneck Gown
Size: 0-16 | Materials: Silk chiffon | Length: Floor-length
For those with a larger budget, you’ll want to consider this black sequin gown from St. John for the big day. The scoop neckline is incredibly flattering and an opportunity to show off a statement necklace—perhaps an emerald option à la Princess Diana.
Best Subtle Sparkle
Sachin & Babi Sam Square-Neck Side-Slit Column Gown
Size: 0-14 | Materials: Stretch Crepe Polyester | Length: Floor-length
The square neck on this gown from Sachin & Babi is reminiscent of the neckline Lady Di wore in her look. We love this option for those wanting a subtle pop of sparkle, as the embellishments only outline the neckline instead of the entirety of the dress.
Best Knee-Length Option
Mac Duggal Butterfly-Sleeve Sequin A-Line Dress
Size: 2-16 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Knee-length
Even though this Mac Duggal dress boasts a different silhouette from the gown the Princess of Wales wore, it's still a standout option for mothers of the bride or groom. Besides the eye-catching sequin embellishments, our favorite part of this look has to be the butterfly sleeves.
Princess Diana wore a fair share of statement gowns, but this rose-printed number, designed by Catherine Walker, is certainly one to remember. She kept her accessories minimal with this black and red one-shoulder ball gown and opted only for a pair of dangle diamond earrings to complete her look.
For a Fall Wedding
Mac Duggal One Shoulder Long Sleeve Gown
Size: 0-14 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length
If your daughter or son is having a fall wedding, this Mac Duggal one-shoulder option is one to consider. The burgundy shade is sure to pop amongst the crisp fall backdrop.
Sachin & Babi Brielle Strapless Gown
Size: 0-14 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length
Taking inspiration from the floral print in Lady Di’s gown, we love this strapless ball gown from Sachin & Babi. If the bride wants to incorporate a print into her bridal party, this dress is certainly the way to do it.
Best Strapless Option
Emilia Wickstead Keeley Strapless Dress
Size: 2-14 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi-length
Emilia Wickstead is known for her elegant designs and this strapless dress shows why. From the foldover bodice to the rose print, this look has all the makings for a memorable mother-of-the-bride or groom look.
We're all familiar with Princess Diana's revenge dress after her split from Prince Charles, but she also wore a gown, designed by Victor Edelstein, with a similar neckline well before that moment. Though the princess paired her ensemble with a tiara, you can incorporate similar sparkle into your look with a statement necklace or bracelet.
Best Trumpet Style
La Femme Jersey Ruched Trumpet Gown
Size: 2-20 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length
There is nothing quite as timeless as a black trumpet gown. We love that this option from La Femme pairs the flattering silhouette with an equally flattering portrait collar neckline.
Azazie Uli Mother of the Bride Dress
Size: A0-A30 | Materials: Mesh | Length: Floor-length
This gown may give the illusion of a simple black gown, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice the beadwork above the waistline and the pleated detailing. Made from stretch jersey material, you’re sure to find this option both elegant and comfortable.
Vera Wang Bride Andree Off-the-Shoulder Gown
Size: 2-18 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length
With a draped bodice and an off-the-shoulder neckline, you’ll look effortlessly stylish standing next to your daughter or son in this black gown from Vera Wang. Style yours with a diamond necklace and cocktail ring to complete the look.
While this striking purple shade may not be your first thought when picking out a dress, leave it to Princess Diana to change your mind. While attending a gala in Chicago, the princess donned a simple purple gown with shoes of the same hue and a matching clutch for a monochromatic moment. She finished the look with amethyst and diamond earrings and a white choker-style necklace.
Ramy Brook Arina Halter Neck Pleated Dress
Size: 00-14 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Ankle-length
For a bright purple option with more movement, consider this Ramy Brook halter neck dress. The pleated skirt features a modest, subtle slit that still shows a bit of skin. Also, the smocked waistband provides added comfort around the bodice of the dress.
Black Halo Lotus Drape Sleeve Gown
Size: 0-12 | Materials: Polyamide, elastane | Length: Floor-length
The draped cape-like sleeves on this gown, from Black Halo, add an elegant touch to this otherwise classic silhouette. Keep accessories simple when styling this gown and let the sleeves do the talking.
Size: 00-32 | Materials: Silk chiffon | Length: Floor-length
While this Amsale gown may seem too bridesmaid-like at first glance, it can work as a stunning mother-of-the-bride or groom dress with the right accessories. We recommend pairing it with pointed-toe heels and a cape-like coat if the wedding is during the cooler months.
While on an official visit to Argentina, Princess Diana wore this two-piece suit that was specifically made for her by Gianni Versace. Designed as a nod to Jackie O, the Princess of Wales styled the pink moment with black suede heels and, of course, her Lady Dior handbag.
Best Metallic Option
Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon One Shoulder Jacquard Gown
Size: 14-24 | Materials: Polyester, acetate, nylon | Length: Knee-length
You’re sure to shine on your daughter or son's wedding day with this metallic one-shoulder jacquard gown. The light pink shade is similar to the color Princess Di wore, but the style is a bit bolder than her two-piece look.
Best Option With Jacket
Alex Evenings Embroidered Lace Mock Two Piece With Jacket
Size: 0-16 | Materials: Polyester, nylon, spandex | Length: Ankle-length
With a hint of sparkle and lace detailing, this two-piece outfit with a matching jacket is a lovely option for a spring wedding. To pull everything together, be sure to style your look with nude heels and gold or pearl earrings.
Best Petit Option
Phase Eight Petit Adeline Double Layer Dress
Size: 0P-14P | Materials: Polyester, nylon, spandex | Length: Ankle-length
Petit ladies, you’ll feel royally ready for the wedding day in this double-layer dress from Phase Eight. The best part? The lace overlay is detachable if you're hoping to switch up your look from the ceremony to the reception.