A few weeks ago, I visited my longest friend to look for bridesmaid dresses for her wedding in Chicago next fall. I’ve been a bridesmaid only once before, when I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding. But she selected dresses from J. Crew so we all mail-ordered our dresses separately without ever meeting up or trying anything on. So this was the first time I’ve ever really gone shopping for a bridesmaid dress.
There’s definitely a reputation for this activity being awful, but I had a total blast! The group included a variety of body shapes, sizes, and heights, so everyone was sensitive to personal comfort and lingerie needs.
The wedding is a super fancy black-tie affair in September, so we were looking for long dresses in dark colors with “something special.” We went to two local boutiques. One had more conventional dresses but excellent customer service, while the other had what I thought were nicer offerings, but our consultant wasn’t very good. Additionally, the second shop didn’t allow photography, so I only have real photos from the first place.
I’ll give an overview of some of the styles I tried on and then share my final thoughts. I think this first group was all dresses by the brand Dessy:
Takeaways from the first excursion: Modern tulle is amazing! Instead of being stiff and tutu-esque, these days it’s soft and flowy, with just a single layer over an opaque liner. All of these dresses used tulle in this way. Second: I think proportion is probably even more important than construction. Construction that disagrees with your body shape can be altered, such as sizing up to fit your boobs then having the waist taken in, but nothing can be done when the bodice length is way too long or way too short.
As for the second shop, sadly I have no photos of myself or even mannequins. But these were the two dresses that ended up being everyone’s favorites, both of which are by Bari Jay:
Also note that both these Bari Jay dresses had POCKETS! I was seriously ready to take home the navy blue one that day. It comes in a short length too, so one could conceivably buy it and wear it to fancy events all year long, right?
As you can probably tell, the tank top shape was highly favored by all the girls. In fact, the bride has since tried a couple more dresses, and another top pick she sent me a photo of is a tank top shape with more detailed, thinner straps.
After watching the show “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids” and the movie “27 Dresses” perhaps one time too many, I was nervous about what dresses were going to be out there. But I’m really impressed with the modernity, restraint, and attention to body shapes and lingerie needs that designers are offering these days. I’m really looking forward to wearing whatever my friend eventually settles on!