We’ve all been there: Your friend gets engaged and asks you to be a bridesmaid. What an honor! Until you remember that you’ll be marching down the aisle in a bridesmaid’s dress, and suddenly images of Fritz Bernaise dance through your head.
Breathe easy–it doesn’t have to be that way.
“The biggest, overarching trend is that brides these days are wanting their bridesmaids to not look cookie-cutter,” says Melissa Colgan, senior style editor for Martha Stewart Weddings. “They are allowing them a little bit of say in what they wear.”
Thank God. In fact, bridal experts we spoke to agree that the trend of having individual bridesmaids styles will continue to grow over the next five years. Brides pick one unifying factor–a fabric, a length, or a color scheme–and allow their bridesmaids to find the dress that best suits them.
“It depends on how strict you want to be about it,” says Rachel Leonard, fashion director of Brides magazine. “Once I went to a wedding where the bridesmaids wore their own evening gowns, and she gave them all their own white mink stole.” [ed. note: Um, how can we join that wedding party?]
“Basically you want something that’s going to unify the wedding party so everybody knows that they’re the bridesmaids,” she adds.
Simple enough. Of course, you could snap up one of J.Crew’s many super stylish bridesmaids dresses and call it a day. But if you’re really looking for a dress you can wear over and over again, we combed the web for some chic picks that you’ll still be able to wear beyond the “I dos.”
(P.S.: Before you buy, show it to the bride! “The key to all of these looking great is for the bride to retain final veto power,” Colgan insists. “If you are getting married on the beach you wouldn’t want one of your friends in a sequin mini dress, even if it is in the right color, nor would you want a cotton voile sundress preceding you down the aisle of your black tie affair.” Noted.)