The bridesmaid dress gets a bad rap: poor fit, ugly color, cheap fabric. You know, dresses destined to collect dust in the back of closets. But with designers turning out chic styles you actually want to wear and brides beginning to think outside the one-dress-fits-all box, the bad bridesmaid dress is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Need proof—and inspiration? Here are six fabulous ways fashion-forward brides are rethinking the traditional bridesmaid dress. The end result: Your bridal party will look great, feel terrific and (who knows?) maybe even wear the dress again.
- Mix it up. Brides are moving beyond the uniform bridal look and letting their ’maids choose completely different dresses. How to make a mismatched bridal party work: Choose dresses in a similar color palette and make sure they’re all the same length to keep things cohesive, but allow bridesmaids to play with what they like best (embellishment for one, subtle pattern for another). Check out at this bridal party for inspiration!
- Play with color. Another way to create a mismatched—but unified—look: Choose all different shades of one color for a subtle ombré effect. (This dreamy pastel bridal party is a perfect example.)
- Go short(er). There’s no law that says bridesmaid dresses have to be floor-length. A tea-length dress (which hits about halfway up the calf) is super-chic, and gives your bridal party a less-formal but still totally sophisticated feel.
- Structured silhouettes. Channeling Meghan Markle! Instead of a typically flowy chiffon gown, go for a dress with cleaner lines and a more streamlined look, like this off-the-shoulder stunner from BHLDN. The look is crisp, cool and totally modern.
- Ditch the dress altogether. A skirt and top combo feels both unexpected and totally fresh. We love this look.
- Go bold. While pale blushes, champagnes and soft pastels are always in style, brides are now making big color statements. Deep jewel tones like eggplant and sapphire blue are having a major moment this year.