I’ve only been a bridesmaid twice in my life (hey man, people my age are delaying getting married these days… see: millennials are killing the wedding industry) but I’m also no stranger to the exasperating realness that is being a bridesmaid. Friends, family, acquaintances, even my own mother have chatted my ear off, espousing the woes of either finding a dress that fits the exact shade that the bride demands ALL fabrics on her wedding day be, or worse, being forced to wear the exact same dress as multiple other women with varying body types.
In the age of body positivity finally being recognized on an unprecedented scale, we are seeing more and more people become increasingly vocal, telling others to wear what they want, when they want. We’re finally living in an age where diversity is increasingly celebrated, and conformity is being shunned. We are encouraged to swim against the current, march to the beat of our own drum, etc, etc.
So why do we choose our wedding day, a day meant for expression of personality, love, and self, to suddenly don a uniform and expect others to do so as well? Well, there’s actually a very superstitious historical element at play here – for centuries, bridesmaids have not only dressed alike but dressed like the bride so they could act as diversions for evil spirits and rejected would-be grooms.
Now, that it’s 2019 and we’ve (mostly) stopped caring about ghosts ruining our wedding, there’s a new bridesmaid standard – the mismatched look. Whether it’s a wide range of textures and shades, or a diverse palette that traverses the colour wheel, brides and bridesmaids are having way more fun wearing looks that they actually feel like themselves in.
Check the below bridal parties for all the best mixed-and-matched looks (none of which include that multi-way tied dress.)
1. Bold patterns and colours
Vogue Weddings has, quite obviously, some of the chicest wedding inspiration on the internet. This bridal party's use of bold blues and yellows interspersed throughout their accessories and patterned dresses creates a level of cohesiveness that just feels too good to be true.
2. Moody shades of Merlot
If you haven't heard of Paola Mathé then I highly recommend you stop everything right now and follow her on instagram immediately. Her style and use of colour are otherworldly. What ties all of these looks together is the use of a dark wine -- almost purple lip shade on each bridesmaid.
3. Editorial level whites
We tend to hesitate at the thought of wearing a white dress for special occasions because it feels too bridal -- but what if that's the point? This wedding in Puglia shot by Mango Red Studios (which you must check out -- their photos are crazy gorgeous) puts the spotlight on the entire wedding party, not just the bride. Objectively un-bridesmaid-looking bridesmaid dresses with a bright red lip feels classy, elegant, and black tie, with straw sun hats (available at this wedding to all guests) lending a fun casual twist.
4. Jewel tone casual
I love a laid-back wedding. Add in a fall colour palette and a bridal two-piece and I'm full blown obsessed. Taking colour inspiration from the season is a great way to ensure the colours will work together. Once you've got the right palette, varied hem and necklines add visual interest. The bridal bouquet ties everyone's look together with blooms of each colour perfectly blended in.
5. Solid bold
This is a fashion forward wedding if I've ever seen one. Once again, Vogue Weddings has got the goods. None of these dresses, shoes, or bouquets particularly go together and that's what makes it work so well. Each bridesmaid is dressed in a way that's flattering for her, with the only common theme being solid colours and exotic single-bloom bouquets. And can we take a moment of silence to stare in awe and appreciation at the bride's whole look??
6. Cool girl separates
These women nailed the pastel palette. It's so easy to tread the line of Florida Retiree in head to toe blushes, lilacs, and pistachios but these looks from Bowen Dryden show that with some variation in fabric, sheen, and texture, you can create a look that is dramatic, sexy, upscale, and fashion-forward.
7. Vintage elegance
The pattern and draping of all of these dresses are distinctly different from each other but with a very common theme -- they all evoke a sort of vintage 20s inspired feel without veering too far left into a fringey/flapper costume. Again, the visual impact of velvet and chiffon, pattern and pleats while staying within the same realm of creamy golds keeps the bridal party looking like individuals but still signifies them as part of the bride's team.
8. Pattern mixing
This bridal party is giving us all an expert lesson in mixing patterns. Not only is each dress cut differently but each pattern is also unique to the dress. What ties it all together is two things -- each dress pattern adheres to the same colour family, and all of the patterns are made up of a similar motif.
9. Perfect in pink
Don't be shy to mix bright colours. Various shades of hot pink may be scary to work with, but weaving a common colour throughout -- such as champagne or gold -- binds everything together.
10. Eclectic boho
These bridesmaids are wearing vastly different outfits yet stay united with a common theme. Whether it's 70s boho (as these ladies NAILED) or classic elegance, be clear with your bridal party on the look you're trying to evoke.
11. Fall Fashions
Take inspiration from the changing leaves when decking out your bridal party. Autumn is famed for it's otherworldly colour palette so following the season's lead can truly have you do no wrong.
12. Black and White
When you've got a truly unique and showstopping wedding dress like this illustrated darling, you want your bridesmaids' dresses to complement, not compete. A simple, classic, solid neutral palette can still be a crowd pleaser when you allow your bridal party to choose varying fits, hemlines, and textures to suit their personal style.
Want help curating your perfect wedding day look? I can help! Check out the bridal party styling page for information on the services I offer.