Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Styles

There are many different routes you can go with your bridesmaids’ dresses. We have come up with a guide to the different styles to choose from. Read on.

By Maggy Lehmicke

Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Styles
Photo by Lotus Eye Photography

One of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding is helping select ensembles for your wedding party. However, the desire to make everyone happy can also make it one of the most daunting, which is why it’s important to prioritize your own personal style and overall wedding theme. Some popular choices include:

Even if you have your wedding style pinned down, the neverending challenge is to find a bridesmaid dress that is universal enough to work on everyone. To give you a better idea of some of your options, below are some of the most common bridesmaids dress styles, plus some guidance to help you select only the best for your wedding crew.

Short or Midi

Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Styles Photo Credit // Unsplash

A popular pick for summer ceremonies and less formal affairs, knee length and mid-calf dresses are a versatile option for many types of weddings and venues. These summer bridesmaid dresses are especially fitting for barn, beach, and backyard weddings, but can often work at churches and more formal venues, too. When picking short bridesmaids dresses, it’s best to stick to knee-length styles, as they’re generally more sophisticated and conservative enough to work with most venues. Mid-calf styles are also rapidly growing in popularity, ranging from silk, slip-dress styles with a cowl neck to classic, strapless silhouettes with tulip hems.

Full-Length

Maxi dresses tend to embody what most people think of when they picture a bridesmaid gown. The ideal, perfect dress pick for a formal affair, long gowns add a bit of drama and elegance to the big wedding day, whether it be at a winery, church, or garden estate. Like short dresses, these come in a variety of silhouettes, bodice styles, necklines, and sleeve lengths, so consider what works with your overall wedding theme, but also chat with your bridesmaids to see what they’re most comfortable in. If you like the look of maxi dresses but aren’t 100 percent sold, consider styles with slits or high-low hems. There are even online retailers, such as Birdy Grey and Revelry, that specialize in full-length styles just for bridesmaids.

Convertible

The ultimate choice for a bride that prefers consistency but wants her posse to be happy, convertible bridesmaids gowns can be found at just about every popular retailer. These dresses generally give you the option to change up the neckline, sleeve length, and overall bodice style. Even though every bridesmaid may be wearing the same dress, each one can be rocking a different look, giving them the opportunity to show off their personality and pick a dress style that they’re most comfortable in. These dresses also usually come in a variety of fabric choices, ranging from a luxe jersey knit to a classic tulle, so the styling options are endless.

Color-Matching

Guide to Bridesmaid Dress StylesPhoto Credit // Unsplash

Similar to convertible dresses, this look is for dresses in nearly identical shades that otherwise vary in their silhouette, bodice style, or fabric. Though slightly “mismatched,” we think this look deserves its own category because unlike mismatched bridesmaids dresses gowns, these dresses generally share more than one trait in common. Maybe you all decide on full-length, silk gowns in terracotta, but the neckline and sleeves length of the dresses vary. Or, you pick knee-length, navy dresses in various fabrics and silhouettes.

This look is great for those who prefer a bit of the “matchy” feel without being too constricting. It’s also a favorite amongst the bridal party, as it’s much easier to flatter a variety of body types and personal styles. To guarantee some level of consistency in the colors, consider purchasing the dresses from a single retailer or having a color swatch on hand as reference.

Floral or Printed

Fun and laid back, floral dresses are a growing favorite of the last several years. Because they’re generally more casual than their solid counterparts, these gorgeous bridesmaids dresses are particularly popular in maxi styles. The overall lack of formality also makes them a popular choice for beach ceremonies, relaxed backyard weddings and events with a bohemian or vintage vibe.

If you’re a less traditional bride who likes bright colors and prints, floral dresses may be the way to go. This could mean anything from dainty florals in different shades of green, to a big, bold style in the same print and moody hue. It’s also okay to go shorter if you feel that it fits the ambience of the big day, or if the dresses have a more classic silhouette, like a streamlined midi with a tulip hem. Also be sure to consider some of the pieces of advice below if the dresses vary in color, style, or print.

Mismatched

If cohesiveness is important to you, one of the best ideas to consider is making sure that all the dresses have one trait in common. For example, maybe you tell them that the print and hem don’t matter, but that they all need to be in a similar shade of blue. Providing them with paint chips in associated shades is an easy way to do this. Or, maybe you decide to go with floral dresses in varying shades, but the print pulls it together and makes it work.

However, if you’re not particularly attached to having the bridesmaids look alike, you’re not alone. Completely mismatched bridesmaid dresses are growing in popularity—varying in hems, colors, fabrics, and patterns. If this is more your style, we suggest consulting with the gals and keeping tabs on what they plan to buy, so that you can make sure that it’s consistent with the venue and what you envision for the day. You can even organize a group shopping trip if you think that’ll aid the decision-making process. Freedom is great, but too much freedom can be a bit overwhelming for your wedding party.

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