Anatomy of a Bridesmaid Dress: The Good & the Bad

We’ve all heard bridesmaid horror stories about (or experienced) puff sleeves, rotten colors and silhouettes suited for only one body type. The list goes on, and we have photographic evidence of what fills every maid-to-be with anxiety when she agrees to be a part of the bridal party. So, how do you pick a dress that won’t go down in the wedding hall of infamy? Here are a few pitfalls to avoid, along with handy pointers and beautiful examples of Nordstrom-approved bridesmaid dresses.

Too ‘Trendy’
You love fashion, but a bridesmaid dress isn’t the canvas for showcasing or worse, going overkill on, your trend-savvy. What’s in today will be out soon enough, but your photos will last forever. Incorporate of-the-moment trends like peplum, lace and metallic finishes in ways that are subtle—and never go near ruched gold lamé.

Donna Morgan Lace Peplum Dress | Amsale Asymmetrical Taffeta Gown

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have dresses that don’t even look of their decade—or this planet. Err on the side of unfussy shapes and classic lines (like A-line or sheath), and never on the side of puff sleeves or parasols.

Donna Morgan Sweetheart Gown | ML Monique Lhuillier Strapless Chiffon Gown

Some brides love to make sure everyone looks uniform, which isn’t always a bad thing, but not every dress looks good on every body. Why not add a modern twist by choosing your color story and letting each maid pick the skirt and bodice style that suits her best?

 Donna Morgan: Strapless Fit & Flare Dress | Surplice Tulle Dress

Loud Prints and Colors
A pretty print or pop of color is a favorite way to make a statement, but for a bridesmaid dress it can be too much of a good thing. Did anyone even notice the poor bride above standing in the middle, or were you trying to figure out if those dresses were made out of the same material as the curtains? Make sure the stunning standout is you—and not the collective visual impact of your bridal party. We adore bridesmaid dresses with a subdued print.

Eliza J Ruffle Satin Sheath Dress | Eliza J Cotton Jacquard Tulip Dress

For more gorgeous examples of what to wear, check out all of our bridesmaid dresses.

(Images via Tacky Weddings and The Bridal Lounge.)

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