The bridesmaid’s dress has long been the brunt of countless jokes and the source of endless disappointment. The UK-based Daily Express reported recently that, in a survey conducted by the plus-size fashion retailer Simply Be, 78% of bridesmaids hated their dress. Yet only 2% of the women surveyed said they would refuse to wear a bridesmaid dress that they hated. Anyone who has ever served as a bridesmaid and been stuck with a mauve satin monstrosity that even Angelina Jolie could not make look good can attest that this sounds about right.
So why are bridesmaids dresses so often reviled? Personally, we think it may have something to do with the misguided convention of getting members of the bride’s party to somehow look the same and match. Given individual differences in body type, personal style and fashion preferences, isn’t this a doomed objective from the get go?
We propose a long overdue re-think of the whole custom based on a more compassionate and realistic approach to dressing the bridesmaids. Take a look at some tips that might help:
Bridesmaid Dress Tips That Don’t Suck
- Mix, don’t match
You can stick to an overall wedding colour palette or aesthetic scheme without requiring everyone to wear the same dress. Use other ways to support your theme – variations of shades in a single colour, colour shades that complement each other, restricting matched colours to accessories or flowers. Or pick the colour and let your friends choose their dress style. It’s more important that bridesmaids feel good about what they have to wear than to have matching dresses.
- Blush, nude and petal pink
These neutral colours are currently in fashion at least partly because they are so wearable. Consider employing all three in a non-matchy scheme that allows bridesmaids to wear the dress style most flattering to their body type. Request that they all have long (or short) skirts if you must. You could also come up with a set of guidelines in discussion with your bridesmaids, but leave the final bridesmaid dress selection up to them. Or pre-choose a range of styles within which they can make a choice. You get the idea.
- The fit is it
You can likely blame much of the bitterness around bridesmaids’ dresses on poor fit. Make sure to plan for fittings and adjustments if dresses are being made for the wedding party, so that everyone has a chance to look their best. Create an atmosphere where bridesmaids feel comfortable enough to share their discontent – so together you can figure out ways to make things better.
- The complete package
In some cases, shoes and other accessories can be a more considerable expense than the bridesmaid dress itself. If you’re hoping to also control this aspect of your bridesmaids’ look, prepare to pitch in to help cover the costs. Your friends shouldn’t have to go broke to fulfill your vision of what your wedding party should look like.
Since bridesmaids are typically required to pay for their own dresses, don’t add insult to injury by force-fitting everyone into dresses that they’ll wear once, hate and never wear again. Do do your friends a favour and, at the very least, involve them in the dress selection process. Communicate honestly about your wishes and expectations and listen carefully as your bridesmaids express their thoughts on the subject. With the explosion of great-looking options, products and approaches in the market, it won’t be that difficult to find a solution that everyone can live with. Good luck.