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Our 34-year-old daughter will be married in August of this year. The wedding is in southern California and takes place at 6pm with service by an Episcopal minister. We will have 200 guests at a beautiful country club set in a canyon, with dinner and dancing to follow.

My daughter is wearing a long, white spaghetti-strapped formal gown, and she will have seven bridesmaids. We want my dress to be beautiful and stylish, but so many dresses I've seen so far look dowdy! What are your suggestions? I can spend up to $1,000 on the dress. I'm a petite size 8. Thank you.

Don't follow the traditional route for mother-of-the-bride shopping. Designer stores or boutiques will have plenty of contemporary and flattering looks for you. Designers like Donna Karan and Nicole Miller have more current styles that fit into your price range.

Choose a classic style dress that is flattering to your specific frame. Don't choose styles that are too trendy; you don't want to regret choices when looking back at photos in years to come.

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