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You Asked: What Flatters the Bridesmaids?

Dear Sugar
I recently went to a wedding and was horrified by the bride's choice of dress for her bridesmaids. The cut (strapless and tea-length), the color (a pea green with yellow trim), and the material (think loads and loads of tulle and taffeta) were truly horrendous. That got me to thinking, could you suggest a cut and style of dress that is universally flattering, as well as any particular colors or materials. If I'm going to make my future bridesmaids wear dresses of my choosing, I at least want them to look and feel beautiful. Thanks a lot! Bridezilla Brianne

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Bridezilla Brianne --

I can completely understand your frustration with bridesmaids' dresses, as most of them are odd and overpriced. You're the bride, which means how you dress your friends for the big day is ultimately up to you. Since your friends are bound to have all different body types, the most flattering dress shape, without a doubt, is the A-line. While some consider this style boring, it hugs the right curves while providing leeway for others. As for length, it all depends on time of year and location. For winter, I would suggest keeping the dresses long; for summer or spring, you can go with a knee-length hemline, which is usually the most flattering length.

If you choose to keep all the bridesmaids dressed alike, you'll need to use your own discretion when choosing the neck line. If your friends will be more comfortable with the extra support, I'd opt for something with straps; if they don't have a preference, I think a halter or strapless cut is the most flattering.

Color and fabric can be tough decisions, too. Again, the season will play a significant role. There's a lot of sitting, waiting around, and a little sweating throughout the wedding day, and you don't want your ladies to look messy. Besides, wrinkles can ruin a dress. Silk charmeuse would be the least fussy fabric, while taffeta can be disastrous. As for your colors, that decision rests entirely with you. You'll need to consider your flowers, the skin-coloring of your respective bridesmaids, the time of year, and most important, the room where you'll be married.

I am a big fan of J Crew's bridesmaids collection. Not only do they have an array of styles, but the colors are vibrant and the dresses reasonably priced. Some brides prefer to find a dress their friends can wear again, but no matter how cute or flattering the dress, most of us really don't wear the dress again. Just go with what you thinks looks best.

It's good of you to be concerned with how your friends will feel and look on your big day. Don't fret too much, as all eyes really will be on you and your future husband. Good luck on your big day!

Join The Conversation
Emland Emland 10 years
I kept my wedding small out of budget, but simply gave my maid of honor a swatch of fabric and a sample of the flowers and let her pick the gown. We were insanely young (married at 19!) and she was able to use the dress a couple of more times in college for formal events. I think too many times brides pick ugly dresses for their friends to ensure they are the only one that looks good.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I am not married but have been to my fair share. I have seen it all from the bridesmaid in a dress 2 sizes too small, it took her forever to get her butt down the aisle since her dress was too tight. One of my friends told me I got dresses that you could wear again but I know you won't it is not your style. I just think the simpler the better and the bride needs to make sure everyone looks great not just her. If the dress doesn't look good on your size 20 girlfriend don't force the girl to be uncomfortable because your size 2 girlfriend looks fabulous!
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 10 years
Im a bridesmaid in a wedding this month and what she did was pick a color and then we all went crazy in the store trying on a million different sytles and stuff like that and we each picked something different but was somewhat a like(the length was the same but the tops and styles were a little different) and i think that they look great together. its not to matchy matchy and yet we look like we all belong to the same wedding! but then again for when i get married(all my best gf are within 2 sizes of each other) so they will get stuck with whatever i like best ;) I can tell already i will be a bridezilla just because i am so OCD with details!
Lindsb Lindsb 10 years
I think as far as choosing a style that suits everyone.. Empire waist dresses usually flatter most women. Being flexible is definitely a plus.. letting the bridesmaids choose the same dress in the same palette of colors (the example above using tones of purple, or letting the bridesmaids choose different dresses in the same color. I have recently been in two weddings and in the first, we all wore the same dress/color. We came together to decide the best fit for everyone. In the second, I had absolutely no say.. they went with a 2-piece because the majority of girls had huge knockers..
ALSW ALSW 10 years
I asked my bridesmaids to pick their top choices of dress and then together, we selected the one that everyone liked the best. As for color, I told them I wanted them in different shades, so they chose purple. It looked great - the dresses fit all 3 sizes and shapes of the girls well and they were all happy with the dress since they'd had a hand in selecting it. We ended up with tea length satin dresses in various shades of purple and shoes from Target! And I got a lot of compliments about their dresses! I also did the added touch of having each girl carry a different flower and all 3 then made up my bouquet. =D
chancleta chancleta 10 years
I like picking one color and letting each person pick the cut that suits her. Matching skin tone is sooo hard when you have different kinds of women.
katie225 katie225 10 years
my sister picked out dresses for us that we could wear again, but there's no place in the world i would wear it. i've never gone to a formal party or anything like that (since high school prom). so honestly, pick a knee-length dress from j.crew because THOSE i might wear again just out to dinner. and, though brides don't like to do it, a simple black dress is amazing, sharp-looking, and always classy.
Casimira Casimira 10 years
I had a wide variety of sizes in my wedding (smallest: 6; largest: 22) so what I did was, after consulting with them to make sure they were willing to have their dresses made, pick out a pattern and told them that I wanted them the same length (tea length) but they could modify them to make them more flattering for their body type. It worked out well. We went with burgundy, and they were all comfortable and thanks to the style of the top of the dress, they were able to cut the dresses to knee length later and wear them as cocktail dresses. :)
Beautifulbarbie Beautifulbarbie 10 years
I am with Val on this one.
Marci Marci 10 years
Most bridesmaids dresses are a true test of friendship. Not only have I been forced into buying and wearing a dress I normally wouldn't be caught dead in, I had my picture taken in it a hundred times for posterity. I say just remember what it's like to be the bridesmaid, since you probably were one, and then choose something that you would've liked to wear as one. And maybe make the phrase 'you can wear it again' come true!
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
well personally, i have always felt that the best look for a bridesmaid was a hot groomsman, lol. the dress is only for one day and we have all put up with our share of fug dresses. for my wedding i gave each of my attendents a catalog (chadwicks) and told them to see if they found anything they liked in forrest green. as luck would have it they each picked the same dress :) they were cocktail dresses with a very dramatic cut out in back, velvet and a jacket that could be taken off for the reception. the dresses were more expensive than i would have asked them to pay, but they were beautiful. i let them select their own shoes (it's not a drill team after all) and i provided the jewlery.
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
Pick a colour that looks good with all of your bridesmaids skin-tones. You could even ask them the top 3 colours they think look good on them, and then try to see if there is one that all of them have chosen. Try to pick something affordable so your bridesmaids don't have to break the bank to participate in your special day, keep in mind they will have other expenses associated with your marriage aside from the dress. Have fun on your big day :) .
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