Friday, June 25, 2010

Non-Bridesmaid Dresses

Even though I'm pretty far along in my wedding plans, I still like to look at the magazines and see what other people have done.  I enjoy looking at gowns and reception decor, but almost every ad for bridesmaid dresses make me cringe because they are so. freaking. ugly.

Who decided that matte satin was a good choice for everyone?  Not to mention with bows and sashes.  I wanted the girls in my wedding to actually be able to wear their dresses again and decided that since so many weddings are in the works right now, I'd track down a few options for bridesmaids that would fit the same criteria.  Most often, that means bypassing bridal brands entirely and looking at other stores for cuts and fabrics that are flattering on a lot of body shapes.  Here are my favorites right now:

The Limited Draped Waist Tank Dress
Earlier this month, The Limited launched their bridal collection and it was pretty pathetic.  Hardly any colors and about three dresses that look like what they already sold.  However, this dress would be a great choice if you have bridesmaids in a range of sizes.  The v-neck and defined waist are universally flattering, and the light gray color would be very chic with bright flowers but also wearable at holiday parties and weddings afterward.

Ann Taylor LOFT Sheath Dress
So many bridesmaid designers offer a basic black dress for the brides who decide to be kind, but they charge about $140 for them.  A dress like this is cut so basically and made from thick, shiny cotton that could be accented with a statement necklace (cool bridesmaid gift idea!) and only costs $80.  

J.Crew Silk Tricotine Allegra Dress
I think J.Crew has the best line of bridesmaid dresses, and this dress is my favorite because the fabric is dressy enough for a fancier wedding, but you can still get a variety of colors for $140 or less.  Plus, all your bridesmaids can order their own dress online.

Calvin Klein Empire Waist Gown
For those wanting their bridesmaids in a long dress, I think the key to versatility is being able to picture someone wearing it to a charity event.  This dress is made of a more elegant fabric than most bridesmaid dresses and could easily be sold after the wedding or shortened.

Speechless Halter Gown with Brooch
This dress is a cheaper alternative to the one above, but I would remove the brooch and replace with something a bit nicer from Etsy.

Aidan Mattox Cross Back Dress
Obviously, this dress is not intended for large breasted bridesmaids but it would be equally cute in a wedding or on New Years Eve.

Carol Hannah Whitfield Pinckney St Dress
If you and your bridesmaids are Project Runway fans, Carol Hannah (from last year's New York season) sells wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses on  I like the one-shouldered Pinckney St dress, which comes in silk chiffon or jersey and in several colors.  Each dress is made to order, so they most more than most but are definitely versatile.

Hopefully this is helpful to those of you planning weddings.  Please remember to say no to red satin.  It's not anyone's friend.

And for those not shopping for bridesmaid gowns, what was your best (or worst) dress from the past?


  1. i love one of my girlfriends...but my favorite justification for her choice in dress can wear it to a garden party! i'm going to be 30 in sept and i've yet to go to a garden party...

  2. Not generally a fan of long, drapey, matchy-matchy bridesmaid dresses in Easter egg colors on grown-ass women, but wow that gorgeous Carol Hannah number has taken me by surprise!

    I had an October wedding and just asked my bridesmaids pick their own black gowns that flattered their diverse figures - then I gave them wraps to wear. They were thrilled, and I think it is an idea that has aged well. That being said, I don't like to see black bridesmaids gowns in Spring and Summer weddings - I think that's when the Easter Egg colors can actually work, depending.

    Best dress from the past - this silver Marilyn Monroe-ish dress that cost about $20 at some lame dept store, which I wore to a frat formal in '98 where I met my future husband. Spilled a drink on it and ruined it though because the fabric was cheap. Oh well. Oh, and of course my wedding dress - a cream Monique Lhullier before she really hit the big time. It was a real departure from the strapless with poufy skirt dresses that were all the rage in the early 00's - so at the time my lacy form-fitting dress looked unusual, maybe even a bit vintage.

    I luckily don't have a worst dress, believe it or not. Could be because I've never been asked to be a bridesmaid (which is kind of sad)... but I've been asked to do readings at weddings so I guess I am not a total friendless loser. ;)



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