How to Choose the Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Dress

Winter calls for natural tones, longer hems, and sleeves. Read our guide for how to choose the perfect winter bridesmaid dress.

By Maggy Lehmicke

Winter Bridesmaid Dress
Photo by Brittany Lee Photography

There’s something both glamorous and romantic about a winter wedding, whether you’re having an intimate indoor affair or posing outside amongst two feet of snow. But as the seasons shift, attire needs and expectations change dramatically.

For both brides and their bridal party, it’s important to think about how these changes influence dress choices and the overall vision of the big wedding day. To help, we’ve rounded up some simple tips for choosing the right bridesmaid attire for the chillier season.

Opt for Longer Hems

In general, longer dresses are more fitting for winter affairs, particularly in colder weather regions. Luckily full-length gowns are fairly traditional and available in a wide range of styles. Wrap dresses and A-line styles are both extremely versatile bridesmaid dress styles and can work across most dress codes.

If full-length dresses aren’t your style, you can always consider a shorter style with long sleeves or in a heavier fabric like velvet. Knee-length cocktail dresses with sequins are also a great winter look.

Keep Location in Mind.

A winter ceremony in South Carolina is going to be very different from a New Year’s Eve wedding in Boston—not just in style, but in temperature. Whether you’re the bride or one of the maids, make sure to consider weather patterns as you start to look at dresses. There are alternative ways to keep warm, of course, but you still don’t want to be caught in a tank dress when the wind chill is below freezing.

This is especially important for destination weddings, as winter in the U.S. is actually summer in the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re planning a wedding in Argentina over the holidays and expecting cooler weather as a result, think again. The average temperature in December in Buenos Aires ranges from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you do your research before making any big purchases.

Sleeves, Sleeves, Sleeves

We’re not saying long-sleeved gowns are always the way to go—we’re only suggesting that you avoid tank dresses with large cutouts if the weather is likely to be on the colder side. Short, flutter sleeves or their three-quarter-length counterparts are not only flattering across many body types, but also meld with a variety of styles. Full-length sleeves are another great option for fancier affairs and look great on fitted and sequined gowns.

Nonetheless, if you can’t seem to shake the vision of silk Champagne-colored slips with low backs, then pick a venue where you’ll have some control over the temperature and make sure your maids have warm coats or pashminas to get from place to place.

Lean Toward Cooler, Natural Tones

While you don’t need to look like an ice queen, going with hues that bring out your surroundings gives the overall look an effortless appeal. In the winter, this might mean considering “cooler” colors in shades of blue, purple, and green. For more formal affairs, consider pseudo neutrals, like burgundy, navy, and grayish blue.

The primary exception might be jewel tones, which have made a big comeback in the last several years. Mustard yellow and rich fuschia might seem out-of-place on their own, but these shades make a bold statement when paired with emerald greens and deep reds. Because of the richness of each hue, they work especially well at more formal events and glamorous venues.

Consider Accessories in Advance

As you start to look at winter bridesmaid dress options, consider how they can be accessorized. Accessories are a great way to make warm-weather styles more practical. For example, if you’re leaning toward a knee-length cocktail number that could easily be styled with some opaque tights and closed-toe heels, you might have a winner.

To make sure everyone is on the same page, consider gifting your maids matching jackets or picking out cozy shawls or pashminas that fit the color scheme.

Keep an Eye on the Details

When temperatures drop, gowns with sequins or big, billowy skirts no longer feel stuffy or fussy, but luxurious and sophisticated. Fabrics are also important, as the weight of fabric not only dictates how warm (or cold!) the bridesmaids will be, but can also influence the ambience or “mood” of the event. For example, if your wedding is relatively casual, you might want to consider fabrics like cotton canvas or lightweight chiffon over satin or velvet. Lastly, if you’re the bride, make sure to keep the added expense of sequin dresses in mind. Gowns with intricate beading can often cost quite a bit more than their simpler counterparts.