Maybe Bridesmaid Dresses ARE All Ugly


Did you think I was done talking about bridesmaid dresses? Newsflash: I will never be done.  Ten years after I’m married, when this blog is covered in Internet cobwebs, I will wake up one morning with more opinions and contemplations on bridesmaid dresses that must be shared with the Universe, and people who forgot to take this out of their reader will be like, “Hitchwhaaa?  Oh… that chick.  Still going on about the dresses.”

Well, right now bridesmaid dresses are actually a pertinent topic in my life, so I have twice as much to say.  Here’s a summary, in case you are pressed for time: shopping for bridesmaid dresses is a freaking nightmare.

First, while I stand by my opinion that bridesmaid dresses don’t deserve their  reputation as What Happens to Fabric that Offends the Sartorial Gods, there is still a lot of chaff to separate from the wheat.  Mostly these dresses aren’t ugly, they’re just offensively boring.:

Then there are the dresses that attempt to evade dullness with absurd details that add nothing but a hefty dose of “Why?”

[I imagine bridesmaid designers cooking up new styles with a series of roulette wheels.  Spin spin spin... chiffon! Spin spin spin... floor length! Spin spin spin... strapless! Spin spin spin... rosette belt!]

And finally, there are the dresses which were probably lovely as designed, but are manufactured so cheaply that they end up looking crummy.  See generally, “matte satin.”

And I’ve added my own complications on top of these common bridesmaid dress pitfalls:   I think the general principle behind the dull-as-watching-paint-dry-on-toast bridesmaid dress is that can flatter a wide range of body types.  Which is a noble and practical goal.  But the body type I am trying to dress is “short, skinny, boobless,” so there will be no resuscitation-by-curves.  I need a dress that looks good on the hanger, because my bridesmaids are all shaped like hangers.  [I must note how grateful I am that the tyrannical reign of the strapless dress appears to have ended.]

Second, I want to dress my bridesmaids in gold, which is a tricky color to find, and even trickier to judge based on a .5 square-inch swatch.  Sometimes “gold” is actually mustard yellow, and “champagne” is actually beige.  Even for the rare line that makes a gold sample available in shops, I worry that my dye lot might come out unfortunately different.  [Dye lots are officially on the list of "Incredibly Unimportant Things to Which I Devote Too Much Attention Just Because Brides Are Supposed to Care About That Stuff."]  It’s too bad I feel pretty wedded to my colors.

And then there is body-shape uncertainty.  Collin’s sister-in-law is pregnant, due four months before our wedding.  I showed her a contender dress yesterday and asked if she thinks she’ll be comfortable wearing it if she still has a bit of a stomach.”It’s not an issue.  I won’t still have any baby weight. I refuse.”  I am less sure.  Then there are our other two bridesmaids, who are both married women of child-bearing age.  Pregnancies happen.  Should I be limiting myself only to dresses that have a maternity option?

So with all these concerns in mind, I’ve gone from 90% sure I had picked out a bridesmaid dress, to 90% sure I need to start from scratch.  Sigh.  I should have told my bridesmaids to pick their own dresses.


  1. I say that if one of your bridesmaids gets pregnant, she can go find a maternity dress that matches the dress you picked. Or find a seamstress. It will be okay. Post holiday shopping is a good time to find everyday dresses in metallics, since a lot of stores come out with pretty dresses for the holidays. Also, I really like dresses by Watters – they tend to be high quality and pretty flattering on hanger girls like my sister.
    Another possibility for you might be to do what I did, if you can’t find the dresses in the right color, is to go with a neutral colored dress, like a black chiffon, and then add a metallic sash. You could find a nice metallic silk and whip up some sashes, and then have them accessorize with chunky jewelry.

  2. Oh dear. I hear you. I have the pleasure of three vastly different sized ladies as my BMs and I don’t think I’ll even try to have them in the same dress. And don’t get me started on colours, either. I totally agree that you say the words “bridesmaids dress” and the selections offered are instantly cheap fabric, bad design, and really boring. Sigh.

  3. Boring is okay as long as it’s cheap. Think about how much a bridesmaid will shell out for someone else’s wedding and you will understand their willingness to wear a garbage bag because it’s practically free.

    I should probably stop commenting on your bridesmaid dress posts because I am firmly planted in the “let them dress themselves” camp. But I’m hard-to-fit with olive skin and grouchy when someone insists that I wear a strapless, straight-across-the-chest drop-waisted monstrosity of yellow taffeta with a giant bow strategically placed to accentuate the hugeness of my butt.

    • Please don’t stop commenting! I need polite dissent. Also, I absolutely agree that wearing a $75 dollar boring dress that you didn’t pick can be better than wearing a $300 dollar dress you didn’t pick, regardless of how non-boring the expensive dress may be.

  4. bridesmaid dresses can be tricky. where are you shopping? my girls bought theirs at urban outfitters for about $40, they were cheap cute & they would wear them again. have you checked places like macys or nordstroms? they might have gold and the styles may be better

    • For my sisters, I primarily looked at bridesmaid lines, but for the people in the extended Bridal Hootenanny, I looked at LITERALLY EVERY DRESS on the websites for Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, a few online dress sellers, and I kept my eye out for bridesmaid option there too. I’m sort of knee-deep in dress options. I think I need to take a breather. I’m mixing metaphors.

      • You’ve probably seen the whole line, but the David’s Bridal style F12495 seems to work on the body type your looking for, and it has reviews from women who wore it while pregnant and who look back at those pictures fondly. Not sure if it comes in gold, but it seems to be a good shape so far (even the “groomsmaid” likes it, who has been a nightmare in every other respect as regards teh dress hunt).

  5. oh NO good luck! every bridesmaid dress i’ve ever worn has made me just…even still…just…full of loathing and maliciousness.

    i’ve spent the last two weddings in particular that i was part of silently daydreaming of a ceremonial burning-of-the-dress immediately following the ceremony…swearing that the NEXT wedding would be me…with a pair of jeans in a duffel for the reception.

    good luck. you’re on the right track to question the usual suspects…just line ‘em up and keep taking mug shots.

  6. That blue dress is the most borning dress I have ever seen..it makes me wanna cry

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