Monday, May 18, 2009

One Dress to Rule Them All: Part I

I know I will offend some brides by saying this but I'm not a fan of the matching bridesmaids dresses. This is partly due to the fact that I've been in so many weddings where the dress was so ill-fitting on at least one of the bridesmaids (if not more) that it has made for some unflattering pictures. I also think it's slightly unnatural for a group of women to wear the EXACT same dress. (I know, I know, it's natural for weddings.) With that being said, I do see how fun wedding pics can be when you have a matching bridal party who ultimately bring your wedding colours to life. Case in point.........

One of the toughest choices a bride will have to make is choosing 'the bridesmaid dress' which is no easy feat, unless you've found 'The Traveling Dress.' So how do you go about choosing a dress to rule them all? Is it possible to find a dress that flatters a small bust, a junk in the trunk and muscular arms (all from different bodies no less!)? Well you have a few options: 1) Vary the dress to suit your maids' different body types and styles; or 2) Choose one dress that flatters ALL body types. We're going to discuss the latter in this post.

According to the experts at Arizona-based Twirl Boutique, the BEST silhouette for every body type* is:

Neckline: Straight Across
Waistline: Empire
Silhouette: A-line

Let's dissect, shall we?

1) Neckline - Straight Across
My girls, well, they're wee. I'm forever trying to find necklines that work with my very helpful undergarments. This is why V-necks are my best friend! However, the same cannot be said for a bustier gal, as V-necks tend to lead her to constantly check if she's showing too much cleavage. Believe it or not, a simple straight across neckline is the best for all bust types. For those of you who lucky enough to be more well endowed, this neckline keeps the girls in check and you won't have to worry about showing too much. For those with petite girls like me, this neckline allows you to wear a great push-up bra or even have a bra sewn in.

Most dresses with a 'straight across' neckline are strapless like this one by Jenny Yoo.

If strapless isn't your thing, you could also go with a sleeve or strap option.

Think the 'straight across' neckline is boring? You can with a slightly modified sweetheart neckline like this Melissa Sweet dress.

2) Waistline - Empire
Prevalent since the Greco-Roman times, the empire waist creates the illusion of a longer body by raising the the waistline to just beneath the bust (who doesn't want a little more length!). For those of you maids with small busts, the empire waist maximize your assets by adding definition to the bust area. If you're apple or pear shaped, an empire waist can hide your stomache and thigh area as the dress will 'skim' over these areas.

(left) Maggy London; (right) Jasmine B2

3) Silhouette - A-line
The A-line is likely one of the most enduring and most flattering silhouette in the history of fashion. Petite gals and rectangle-shaped gals (i.e. little or no curves) love the A-line because it creates curves by defining the waist, and its gradual flare gives an illusion of hips. Interestingly enough, these same attributes are why curvy gals love the A-line as well. By defining the waist, the A-line creates the illusion of a smaller waist and the gradual widening of the skirt camouflages fuller hips, thighs and booty.

For maids who are expecting, no matter how far along they are, this silhouette flatters their bump while keeping them comfortable.

(left) Thread; (right) Eden Bridals

Best Fabric for All?
Costume designer Shay Cunliffe in a recent article on, recommends crepe and silk Charmeuse for bridesmaids' dresses as these fabrics move beautifully on a body and are comfortable. Cunliffe cautions against stiff silk or taffeta as these tend to not lie well on the body and can stretch out after only a short period of time. Personally, I would stay away from Charmeuse unless you outfit all your maids with some Spanx as this clingy fabric is unforgiving on even the most skinniest women. While taffeta tends to be more forgiving, I recommend you investigate how the dresses will look in photos. Most taffeta has a sheen to it and can look unsightly in photos. From my own bridesmaid adventures, the fabrics that flatter any body type, are comfortable and photograph well are: chiffon, georgette and satin.

Well, there you have it....One (Exact) Dress to Rule Them ALL! Happy Bridesmaid dress shopping. I leave you with some real life examples of THE silhouette.

(These dresses are missing the 'A-line' factor but still manage to look great all on the bridesmaids.)

Stay tuned for Part II.......

*Original article foumd here.


Bridelines said...

I am not sure there is ever one great dress for mutiple girls. It's best to give some variety, at least in cuts. Fabric should probably be all the same, but have a few girls with different bodies try on the dresses. Decide on something that looks ok on everyone-not great on just the size 2's!

Mo said...

I couldn't agree more about nixing the matching dresses. We all have different body types and needs, it just never made sense to have one silhouette!

down and out chic said...

i'm with you on not really liking matching dresses. i think it's more interesting if you have a variety of cuts and it's important that your friends are comfortable.

Eve Traetto said...

I think different dresses work much better than making all the girls fit in one style dress. Having said that i did photograph a wedding and the bridesmaids (from super skinny to a little larger) all looked fab in their bright pink, to the floor dresses. There are very few bridesmaid styles that suit everyone.
Great post!

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