Bridesmaid Dresses

By Amy Winter

July 16, 2010 4 min read

Brides seem to be giving their bridesmaids more options when it comes to choosing their dresses. The trend of mismatching bridesmaid dresses has become more popular in the past few years. A bridesmaid can feel more comfortable standing at the altar in a style that flatters her body style and skin tone.

"This is a way in which brides can offer their bridesmaids the opportunity to express themselves and choose a style that's right for their personality, as well as their body type," says Greg Gemette, vice president and general merchandise manager of David's Bridal's dress division.

"Wearability" is an advantage to being able to pick your own bridesmaid dress, according to Tricia Spencer, the wedding planning feature writer for Suite101.com. "An everyday dress, even a fancy one, chosen to suit the style and personality of the wearer is likelier to be reused," Spencer says. Usually when a bride chooses the dress, the bridesmaids never wear the dress after the wedding day.

Bridesmaids can monitor cost better if they are given the opportunity to pick their own dresses. Spencer says that the recession probably has led to an increase in the mismatching dress trend.

To prevent the bridesmaids from having dresses of different shades, the bride should decide on one shade, and then each bridesmaid can choose a dress style in that specific shade. Spencer says that different hues may not "mesh well," e.g., forest green and moss green.

Gemette agrees that the bride needs to be involved in creating dress guidelines. If you are the bride, tell your girls whether to wear short dresses or long dresses. Indicate whether you want a certain neckline (e.g., strapless or sleeveless). And have the bridesmaids ask for your approval before they buy their dresses. All of that will ensure some continuity in the wedding party, Gemette says.

A bride even can include several colors in her wedding party. Heather Levine, fashion editor at The Knot, says many brides choose two coordinating patterns or a color combo. Then the bride dresses every other bridesmaid in one of the two colors. Or the bride may put the maid of honor in a patterned dress and have the bridesmaids wear the other wedding colors.

When it comes to colors, purple shades remain popular. Barbara Pflaumer, director of communications for Alfred Angelo, says dark purples, such as eggplant, and shades of green are top color choices. Bold and bright colors -- such as pinks, reds and blues -- are popular among brides, according to Gemette, but black is always a safe choice.

Bridesmaid jewelry really depends on the bride's preference. Some brides allow their bridesmaids to pick their own accessories, whereas other brides want certain looks and prefer that the girls wear the same jewelry and have similar hairstyles. A bride may give the jewelry as bridesmaids' gifts, according to Levine.

Though the bridesmaids may enjoy the freedom of choosing their own dress styles, they ultimately want to make the bride happy. Gemette recommends that the bride have the final say on the bridesmaid dresses because it is her special day.

"Although most brides still choose one color for their bridesmaids' dresses, giving them the flexibility to choose the style allows each maid to be unique," Gemette says. "There are no real disadvantages if the bride makes sure she is able to see the styles chosen before the bridesmaids purchase their dresses; otherwise there could be some unpleasant surprises on the wedding day!"

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