Dressing your Bridesmaids

3 Nov

Bridesmaids come in all colours, shapes, sizes and likes, just like dresses! Not all colours suit everyone and some shapes look better in a specific style of dress. Although your main focus may be on finding bridesmaid’s gowns that fit with your theme and co-ordinate well with your wedding dress, it is important that the dresses you choose are flattering to your bridesmaids. Bear in mind that these are your close friends and relatives for whom you are picking outfits, think about their individual personalities and tastes, and don´t expect them to wear something you wouldn´t be comfortable in. This doesn’t mean having lots of different bridesmaids’ dresses because there are ways of making it all work while keeping everyone happy.

FABRICS:

A popular option is to choose a fabric and let the bridesmaids get their dresses made from the same material, that way they will be able to choose a style that suits them and still retain the bridesmaid look. When choosing the material however, keep in mind that some material will be more figure hugging and shiny and this will not work for all your bridesmaids as some may feel uncomfortable bringing attention to certain parts of their body. Choose soft flowing fabric rather than the stiffer satins or traditional taffeta. The only drawback to letting them pick the shape is that you will give up total control on the overall look of your wedding theme. But as long as you reach an agreement on the length of the dresses in order to create uniformity within the wedding theme (it can look a little odd if some are in full length silk and others in short mini dresses), this idea can work very well.

COLOURS:

Darker colours tend to make people look slimmer. If the bridesmaids are going to be wearing a pale colour, keep the shape very simple, preferably straight. If you have your heart set on a particular colour theme, you could suggest that each bridesmaid chooses a style of dress most suitable for her within that colour range. This is a very popular approach in America. You could also choose a colour and have each bridesmaid wear a different shade of that same colour. Look for jewel or pastel shades which complement each bridesmaid’s natural skin and hair colour. Tie it all together with matching shoes and wedding flowers and the theme will look elegantly natural. Here´s a quick guide on which colours match which skin tones:

Red and Pink Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • Blonde and fair-skinned beauties look good in pastel pink shades.
  • Brunettes could go for a deeper red, cerise or magenta dress.
  • Redheads look best in very pale pink.
  • Dark skinned women look wonderful in strong pinks and reds

Blue Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • Blondes and brunettes can wear most shades of blue.
  • Redheads look best in deeper shades with a hint of green.
  • Dark skinned bridesmaids could go for the more purple blue shade but not too dark.

Lavender and Purple Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • Almost everyone looks good in lavender or deep purple.
  • Redheads and dark-skinned bridesmaids should go for the stronger shades for purple.

Orange and Yellow Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • Yellow is a really difficult colour for bridesmaids. If it is the chosen theme, look for very pale golden-yellow or deep gold.
  • In the same way, orange can make all skin tones look washed out or sallow. Go for the richer bronze end of the orange spectrum and soften with a cream trim or lace at the neckline. Alternatively, choose peach shades for brunette bridesmaids (no, I´m not thinking about the typical peach shades of the 80s!)

Green Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • Redheads look gorgeous in most shades of green, especially emerald.
  • Blondes and brunettes could go for the more aquamarine tints.

Black Bridesmaid Dresses:

  • For evening weddings, bridesmaids can look beautiful in black. The dresses should be short, simple and with thin straps. Dark skinned bridesmaids should have a white or silver trim at the neckline to soften the effect.

BODY SHAPES:

If you want to go for the same colour for all of your bridesmaids, a good idea is to go for a different style of dress depending on their shape. Here are things to bear in mind:

Full figured:

  • You should choose bridesmaid dresses that are as simple as can be, avoiding fabric embellishments like ruffles to achieve a slimming effect. Steer clear of two-tone bridesmaid dresses because these will only shorten the silhouette and hence make your full-figured bridesmaid look more, well, full-figured… Styles like halter necks, empire waists, A-lines, crossover necklines and bias cut skirts are ideal to accentuate full figures while hiding the flaws.

Pear shaped:

  • If your bridesmaid is conscious you could opt for halter neck dresses since these necklines broaden the shoulders and provide the illusion of smaller hips. Necklines with pretty details can also distract attention away from heavy hips. For those who love their shape, go for a fantastic 50s look with a cinched waist to provide definition. Choose A-line, subtly flared or gathered at the back/front skirts.

Tall:

  • You could opt for bridesmaid dresses that break the long lines of a tall bridesmaid. Pretty details at the hips and waist like sashes and belts will do the trick of providing definition between the torso and the lower limbs. Depending on the bridesmaid’s choice, she can either choose to wear a tea-length dress or a floor-length gown.

Petite:

  • Short skirts, preferably knee-length, sheaths, fitted dresses that provide an illusion of length, dropped waist bodices for longer-looking torsos and higher necklines are the designs for a petite girl. Most importantly, keep the dress knee-length or above. And high heels do help!

TYPES OF DRESSES:

Empire-line dresses are a very popular style as they are elegant and feminine but they flatter just about any body shape. The waistline is raised to just below the bust, and is usually complemented by a deep v shaped neckline, making it perfect for larger busted bridesmaids. For smaller busted ladies try an empire line with a halter neck. The full length skirt of the empire line gown skims the stomach, hips and thighs, cleverly hiding any lumps and bumps. The length of the skirt gives the illusion of height, so it is a great choice for petite bridesmaids, or those with short legs.

Baby doll dresses are a shorter version of the empire line gown, often with a sweetheart, round, or scooped neckline rather than a v shape. The short skirt requires long legs, shorter bridesmaids will only look stumpy in a baby doll dress.

Flapper style dresses are currently providing inspiration for many modern wedding outfits and are sure to be a big hit. Sleeveless and high-necked with dropped waists, they skim the body in a straight line so aren’t especially flattering to curves. They look great teamed with a tousled up-do and a wide coordinating hair band.

Shift or sheath shaped dresses are a tailored classic, perfect for curvy figures. They can be almost any length, although just below or above the knee is a popular choice for bridesmaids. Small chested bridesmaids can get away with a high neck, while bustier ones will look better with a lower wider neckline. This style works well in strapless form. A sheath dress tends to have a deep V shaped neckline and is generally more figure hugging than a shift.

Tea length dresses: Taking inspiration from 1950s Hollywood, tea length bridesmaids dresses have full skirts with layers of underskirts, which finish around mid calf. A very defined waist means that they are only really suitable for slimmer figures, but they can make a perfect statement for a fun themed wedding.

Wrap over dresses may not seem like an obvious choice for a bridesmaid’s gown, but for a daytime wedding it can be a very flattering style. Best suited to curvy figures, the wrap over front draws attention down between the breasts, suiting larger chested ladies, and then skims over the hips and stomach. Keep wrap style dresses fairly short, perhaps knee-length, to avoid the appearance of drowning in fabric. Wrap style dresses work best with sleeves for those that don’t want to show off their upper arms.

 

The most important thing to remember is be considerate. While it’s an honor to be asked, being a bridesmaid is also an obligation of several hundred pounds. Talk to your friends about a dress budget and stick to it. Also have a brainstorming session about the dresses. Let your bridesmaids voice what they will and won’t wear. Look over some bridal magazines to see what styles appeal to them. All in all, I think you should have fun with your bridesmaids as they will be a big part of your day and taking their opinion into account will save tears and tantrums at the wedding and ensure confident smiling bridesmaids in your photos! 🙂

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