Here Comes The Bridesmaid, All Dressed In…I Don’t Even Know What Color That Is: Choosing Bridesmaid Dresses Part 2
Bridesmaid dress shopping requires a little more imagination than wedding dress shopping. I’m terrible at envisioning things, so this was a bit of a challenge and definitely induced a few panic fits. The two biggest obstacles here are:
- Just like wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses are sample sizes and need clips or extensions to hold them on. For more fitted dresses this isn’t much of an issue, but if you’re looking at less defined, more flowing dresses (like we were) it’s hard to clip them without changing the shape of the dress.
- An issue in general for all bridesmaid dresses is that you have to try to picture what color the dress will actually be in and not whatever color it is now. Some of the dresses we liked the shape of were (in our opinion) AWFUL colors, and it’s hard to look past the color to the silhouette of the dress sometimes. And sometimes it’s just flat-out not possible and the pattern or brightness of a dress will make it impossible to see what it may look like when you pick a different color.
On a related note, choosing a color can be an adventure, too. If you’re lucky the sample of the dress you choose will already be in the right color and you’ll get to see exactly how it will look. If you’re semi-lucky another dress by the same designer will be in the color you choose so you can get a really good idea of how it will look. If you’re like most of us, you’ll have to try to picture what the dress will look like based on a color swatch that is only a couple of inches big. This becomes more dangerous the more saturated your hue is. A color will not look quite as bold on a small-scale, so you have to try to look at it as “what will this look like when it’s 50 times as big?” Any colors that could potentially go in the “highlighter” category I can essentially guarantee will be way too overwhelming by the time you blow it up to dress size. I also recommend, if you plan on being outside at all, asking if you can take the fabric swatch outside to see what the color looks like in natural light.
Even making a final decision on a dress is a little different from choosing a wedding gown in that the order depends on multiple dresses. Most salons will require a deposit on the dress in order for the order to be placed, but will hold the order until all of the girls have been measured and pay their deposits. They do this because orders that arrive at the same time will be cut from the same bolt of fabric. Dress makers do dresses in batches, so dresses within the same batch will have the same dye lot. Different batches, different dye lot. That’s not to say that dresses from different dye lots will look totally different necessarily, but why take the risk? If you have an out-of-town bridesmaid, you’ll have to have her either order the dress at a local salon (and potentially be in a different dye lot) or send you her measurements and you place the order at the salon with the other dresses (meaning you’ll have to rely solely on her measurements in choosing a size, and possibly have to temporarily cover the cost of the deposit). Which route you go is up to you and your bridesmaid.
My rule was that I would not pick a dress, that it was my girls wearing it, and while I could have a say in the choice, it was really up to them. I wanted a cohesive look, but I wanted them to be happy with their dresses and intended to essentially let them make the decision. Since two of my bridesmaids don’t live around here, the first time I went dress shopping I took just my sister with me. We both pulled dresses and eventually settled on a top 3. We took pictures and wrote down all of the information on them, then reported back to the other bridesmaids to get their opinions. The four of us essentially made a decision, but Laura (my MOH) was actually going to come visit me in a few weeks (yay!), so we held off on doing anything until she could try the dresses on herself (Tim’s sister insisted that I could pick a Dumb and Dumber suit and she’d still wear it).
Sure enough, she came out, tried on the dresses, and agreed that the one we chose was the best out of the 3. But hey, dress shopping is kind of fun, and she was in town, so we might as well look some more, right? We poked around, and actually found a whole new set of dresses we liked, and completely threw out our original top 3. We narrowed it down to two, with my MOH liking one dress and my sister liking another. They were both incredibly similar, the just hit at different places on the body. We ended up picking them both! My MOH is going to wear the dress she liked better, and my sister and Tim’s sister will wear the other one. They’re similar enough I still get a cohesive look (and they’re both by the same designer, so picking a color wasn’t an issue!), they’re different enough that my MOH gets to stand out a little, and they hit in the right places so that everyone is happy with how they look!
There are umpteen numbers of bridesmaid dress makers, and you can even choose dresses that aren’t actual bridesmaid dresses (heck you can even choose something that’s not a dress, but I won’t pretend to have any knowledge on the subject), and finding a place to even start looking can feel daunting. Below I’ve included links to some of the more common and more popular designers to give you some inspiration.
Dessy – great for bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, and for accessories like clutches and parasols
Jasmine – great for bridesmaid and mother of the bride dresses
Ann Taylor – they’re like bridesmaids dresses that AREN’T bridesmaids dresses!
On a side note, this is post #50! Woohoo!