“I hate that designer.”
“That fabric shows everything.”
“I’m uncomfortable wearing strapless.”
“I look awful in that color.”
That style doesn’t look good on anyone.”
I’ve been trying to collect information about bridesmaid dresses for a long time now and store it somewhere in my brain in hopes of avoiding putting some of the most important women in my life in something they hate. I hope and pray I won’t be that bride who decides on a dress that my bridesmaids fear or despise.
Based on my observations and what I’ve gathered from other bridesmaids, I had two ideas before beginning the quest:
1) Avoid strapless. A woman constantly hoisting her dress up throughout the evening is not attractive, and she’s not comfortable.
2) Find a fabric that is both flattering and won’t wrinkle to an excessive degree. This led me to chiffon, which I think can drape nicely over the body without showing every imperfection and doesn’t wrinkle quite as much as satin can.
For color, I kept coming back to purple. I’ve searched all over Pinterest, bridal magazines, and wedding websites, and it’s purple that I keep being drawn to. But it’s somewhat of an important decision, as it can really dictate the colors for the rest of the wedding. So I thought about it a lot—but then again, what haven’t I thought about to a painstaking degree?
I think what I like so much about purple is that it’s not ultra-feminine. While I adore pink and wear it all the time, I think I would feel slightly strange about our reception room accented entirely in pink, if that makes any sense. When I spoke to my two cousins who will be bridesmaids, I was thrilled to find out that they both love purple. Getting closer to my primary goal: finding a dress that they love, too!
Then there’s the decision of long vs. short. While short’s still on the table, I tend to be leaning towards long. It’s hard to articulate why, exactly, but I think long can be extremely elegant and also distinctive. You can always wear a short dress, whereas long really signifies a special occasion.
So, I went to my first bridesmaid-dress appointment with all these lovely ideas in my head, only to discover that bridesmaid dresses, well, kind of suck. They’re way overpriced, made of cheap material, and designed in a remarkably unflattering way.
Unlike my wedding-dress experience, where nearly every gown I tried on was gorgeous and made me look and feel fabulous, these gowns made my beautiful sister with a great figure look matronly and unremarkable.
Every gown lacked shape, particularly beneath the bust line. The fabric both looked and felt cheap. Nearly every gown was strapless. The color choices were limited. And I was unable to find the shade of purple I was looking for. Since I will be getting married in the summer, I’m hoping for a brighter purple, possibly a magenta-hued one. But the options were eggplant or lavender. Worst of all, the price tags were huge, not in the least reflecting the actual quality. There were no standouts to speak of.
So that was Bridesmaid Dress Shopping Excursion #1. And I’m worried that’s what I will encounter elsewhere. I’d love to go the department store route. My bridesmaid, Chrissy, whose wedding I was in last year, had great success with getting her bridesmaid dresses from a department store for under $100! And my twin sister, who was also in the wedding, has since worn it again. (Goal number two: have them love it so much they want to wear it twice!) But I feel I’m in the wrong season for the department store option. Everything they’re showing now is black. No splashes of color to be found.
So I’m currently scheduling my next appointments, but I’d love to get any insight/advice you guys might be willing to share! What’s the best way to find a good quality dress at an affordable price? Which shops are best for bridesmaids? What is your favorite designer? Are department stores viable options? J.Crew? Any suggestions on color, material, style?