Just Like the Brides
Bridesmaids don’t have to silently seethe anymore when it comes to their attire.
Their gowns are getting a fashion boost, influenced by the high designs of bridal gowns themselves along with the parade of style strutting down the ready-to-wear runways.
In the past season, so many bridesmaid styles are featuring one-shoulder silhouettes, peplum skirts and thigh-high slits, all of which borrow from the key designer looks found on wedding gowns. Monique Lhuillier has created one-shoulder styles, such as a long gown with an asymmetrical drape and a short, taffeta look with a slit on the bodice. Peplums are peeking out from Jim Hjelm Occasions, which is offering short, asymmetrical peplum styles, and Alvina Valenta, which showcases long structured looks.
“We’re definitely seeing bridesmaid gowns duplicate bridal trends,” says Jamie Johnson, owner of the Bella Bridesmaid franchise in Las Vegas. “It’s a way for a bride to make a really big statement with her bridal party.”
The challenge is finding a fashion-forward dress that flatters all. For instance, peplum-style dresses are harder to pull off when someone’s shorter or heavier. Or dresses with back interest, such as open backs, bows or illusion styles, may also not work with girls with bigger busts or that are pear-shaped.
“Smaller bridal parties – those with three to four bridesmaids – can get away with fashion statements,” Johnson says. “Otherwise, if you have a big array of bridesmaids, it’s harder because you’re dealing with more body types.”
There’s also a print bonanza that’s a growing trend in bridesmaid gowns. Bridesmaid dresses in the Jenny Yoo Collection feature prints in polka dots and leopard styles. Amsale has created a collection of floral prints, some with halter styles, in shades of coral, shell and French blue. Ivy & Aster designs include flirty short bridal dresses in colorful prints, too.
Retailers, such as Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, express concern that the kaleidoscope of colors may be distracting. “It may be more limiting for brides,” says Betsy Robinson, owner of the boutique in Baltimore. “It can get a little busy and it may be hard to see the flowers and bouquets they all carry.”
One change that’s afoot for brides is that they’re ceding control on some of those pesky details. They’re actually letting bridesmaids pick out their dresses for a mismatched bridal party, usually a variation of the same color family chosen by the bride. Shades of pink, chiffon, champagne and blush are among the most popular colors in this category, says Amanda Caldwell, assistant manager of Twirl bridal boutique in Lexington, Ky.
“Bridesmaids are now part of the decision-making process,” says Caldwell, noting that designers are making it easier to mix and match. “Lynn Lugo does a lot of great customization in dresses. Girls can wear the same [bodice], then pick out skirts that flatter their bodies.”
[Image: Alvina Valenta]