VIA Weddings Illustrated by Caitlin Kenney
We’ve all had this experience: You’re flipping through an old wedding album—even one from just a few years back—and your eyes land on the bridesmaid dresses. The inevitable question pops into your mind: What exactly was the bride thinking?
Wedding fashion can be the first thing to date photographs, and the bridesmaid dress is often the true test of timelessness. A bridal gown might age a bit if the bride opts for an aggressively modern style, but bridesmaid dresses tend to reflect the times far more than the bride’s dress. Plus, they’re the bride’s best opportunity to infuse her theme into the wedding party.
So how can you incorporate your favorite wedding trend into your bridesmaids’ dresses, but still keep the look timeless?
Be Bold with Color
If you’re going to go bold, color is safer than silhouette. You’re much more likely to regret a quirky fashion trend than a certain shade. You like that color, that’s why you chose it! Plus, colors come in and out of style much faster than sleeve shapes or hemlines. And many colors are simply timeless. The peplum hem, however, may be in now, but it could easily go the way of midriffs and puffy sleeves.
Beware of Styles You See Everywhere
What’s everywhere today can be overdone in no time. Remember how much you loved chevron last year? Like when you daydreamed about sitting in your chevron-painted living room, wearing your stylish new chevron dress while talking on chevron-bedazzled iPhone about your plans for reupholstering your couch in a lovely slate grey chevron? Yeah, we were all there.
Don’t choose a silhouette or style that is absolutely everywhere, because chances are it will age quickly. That being said, occasionally there’s an exception, usually with looks that have always been around but are just having a moment of extra attention. For example: lace bridesmaid dresses. Lace is a classic fabric, but it’s been more commonly associated with the bride than with her attendants. But now, you can find gorgeous lace bridesmaid dresses all over the place—and safely look back on your pictures.
Keep it Subtle with Accessories
When thinking about how to pull off your theme, try not to be too literal. You really don’t need much to convey a certain vibe. Accessories are a perfect way to infuse your theme into your bridesmaids without turning their attire into a costume.
To pull off a nautical theme without ending up out to sea, choose a classic navy gown and then pair with blue-and-white striped pumps, an ombre canvas clutch or an anchor charm bracelet. Ask your photographer to snap a few details shots to capture your special touches.
Say It with Flowers
Instead of relying on the dress to carry off the theme, let the flowers do the work! Sticking your maids in a highlighter yellow dress for your neon wedding palette probably isn’t going to do them any favors—but your girls will totally shine in a neutral dress with a bouquet of fuchsia dahlias, sherbet-orange gerber daisies and sunny yellow ranunculus.
At the end of the day, don’t stress. We can’t anticipate how we’ll look back on today’s fashion, which trends we’ll cringe at and which will stand the test of time. So you just have to go with what you love and what works for your ladies.
When I was a bridesmaid for my friend Amanda, we had some pretty serious discussions about the flowered neckline of her bridesmaid dress. We all loved the dress—the fit was amazing and it looked good on every girl in the wedding party.
But who knows? Maybe fifteen years from now Amanda’s daughter will be flipping through her mom’s wedding album and stop at the picture of us in our royal purple dresses with flowered halter necklines. She’ll glance at her mom, roll her eyes, and say, “Mom, what were you thinking!” And I’m fine with that. In fact, I look forward to it.