It's wedding season, which means it's also bridesmaid season.
In recent years, brides have tried to ease their friends' insecurities and stresses by letting them choose the style of the dress. "There's a big trend called mix and match," says Brides fashion director Rachel Leonard. "You pick the same fabric in an array of pastels or an array of jewel tones, or in the same color so that every girl can find the best dress for her figure."
For instance, a friend of mine who is getting married this summer told her bridesmaids to "find a nice dress in grey." Others are a little more specific. A popular option is to head over to J.Crew and let your bridesmaids pick any dress silhouette, as long as it's a certain color and fabric.
This seems like a fair way to do it. "I think the bride is much more mindful of making her bridesmaids feel pretty," says Leonard. But a friend of mine, who is a bridesmaid in one of these "J.Crew weddings," is still stumped. "Do you have any idea which one will look the best?" she asked me. Of course, she means, on her.
So I asked bridal fashion expert Jacqueline Courtney, founder of wedding dress resale site Nearly Newlywed, for some ideas. Click through to see which J.Crew bridesmaid dress will look best on your body.
**additional reporting by Tyler McCall
If You Want to Show Off Your Shoulders, Try the Sinclair
"An interesting neckline highlights the feminine accent of shoulders—it's especially good if you're broad shouldered," says Courtney. This one can work for chesty women, too, but be mindful of the chiffon fabric. "The fabric needs to be substantial enough to hold someone in," says Courtney. "Sometimes a big chest needs more structure."
If Your Boobs Need a Boost, Try the Lacey If you want to accentuate a smaller chest, this strapless style will give you a nice lift. It can work for bigger chests, too, as long as you make sure it's not too tight around the rib cage—you don't want to look weighed-down.
"This one flatters most figures, just be mindful of the hip area," says Courtney. If it fits you in the rib cage but it's snug in the hips, consider going up a size and getting it tailored.
If You Want to Look Thinner, Try the Louisa Yes, of course, you should embrace your body and play up your best assets. But maybe you're going through a rough patch and are not at your typical weight. This is where the Louisa comes in. Its high-waist and relaxed fit means you'll look slender and comfortable. "It covers a lot," says Courtney. Which also means it's not great for the super-slim. "If you don't have a lot of curves, you probably want to skip it."
If You've Got a Boyish Figure, Try the Loretta Waiflike body? Play it up with a fun, fitted style. "The texture will make you look curvier," says Courtney. "It definitely flatters those with smaller frames."
If You're Still Not Sure, Try the Arabelle If there's one fail-safe style at J.Crew, it's the Arabelle. An A-line silhouette flatters just about anyone, and the top has a little bit of boning for structure. The strapless, almost-sweetheart neckline will make your boobs look good, and the ruching will make your waist look tinier. If the bride lets you get it in this lovely floral print, even better. "Strapless can really look good on anyone, as long as there's enough support," says Courtney. Arabelle dress in floral chiffon, $275, Jcrew.com