Trying on a J Crew bridesmaid dress
Another lesson I’ve learnt in my nine-month process of wedding planning. If you think the main fashion stress is sorting your own dress, think again. Bridesmaid dresses are far, far harder to find. I’ve got five bridesmaids, all of whom are different shapes, two of whom will have just had a baby before my wedding. Finding time to get them into shops/fittings is hard enough. Then add in the complications of styles, colour and finding something that’s not flammable in my budget and… well, you get the picture.
I’m not massively into the idea of matchy-matchy and I want them to be wearing something they like and are comfortable. So here are some of the options I’ve considered so far. (Note: I’m STILL not sorted so any ideas welcome!)
1. The Designer Option – Erdem
Ok, I’m aware Erdem prices start at what most brides have as the budget for their own dress. But ever since someone told me about an uber-fashion wedding where all the bridesmaids wore a different piece of Erdem I’ve been captivated by the idea. The Canadian-born-British-raised designer is of course famous for his pretty prints and what’s brilliant about this idea is that each bridesmaid can have a different print but because it’s all been designed under one palette as a catwalk collection they’ll still complement each other. Full-price Erdem starts at about £600 so it’s probably only an option if you have minimal bridesmaids (I wore one of his dresses to my sister’s wedding for example because I was the only bridesmaid – excellent!) but it’s also worth looking out for his dresses on discount sites like The Outnet if you’ve got a bit more time…
2. The High Street Option – Coast
Being honest, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been into Coast. But I was impressed. Turns out it’s a really great option for affordable occasion-wear. I was especially impressed with the 100% silk maxi dresses starting at £175, which come in a variety of styles to suit any body shape. They even had one that worked with a maternity bra underneath – a fashion challenge I really never expected any shop to meet. Personally I think the full-length gowns are nicer than the shorter ones in Coast, but don’t dismiss a maxi for bridesmaids – they actually look so elegant and add a real point of distinction to your bridal party. A cautionary note though: I think these dresses look more chic in darker colours like the navy.
3. The American Option – J Crew
The US high street might not be as developed as ours but they’ve got the whole wedding industry nailed, which is why I wasn’t surprised to find a huge range of affordable bridesmaid dresses (from £200) available online at J Crew. Disadvantages: you can’t try them on before buying. Advantages: there’s a choice of silk taffeta, silk chiffon and cotton, every single colour imaginable and enough styles to please even the pickiest of bridesmaids. Plus, it’s quite nice to minimize that fear at every wedding you go to before your own that the bridesmaid dresses they’re wearing are the ones you’ve also chosen.
4. The Bespoke Option – Ghost
Even if you don’t remember the legends that were Ghost dresses from the 90’s there’s a pretty good chance your mum will do – and she’s a crucial person to get on side when choosing bridesmaid dresses. So point her in the direction of Ghost’s dye-to-order occasionwear. The principle is this: you choose your styles and sizes and tell them the exact colour you want and they’ll dye all the same. Short dresses start at £145 and long go up to £195. The service takes four weeks but you’ll end up with classic, beautifully simple dresses that bridesmaids will thank you for. And wear again.
5. The Made-To-Measure Option – Maids To Measure
Maids To Measure does as the name suggests – offers a service of bespoke, made to measure dresses. You can either make an appointment for you and your bridesmaids to go try on loads of different styles (fun!) or browse their comprehensive website to choose the best style, fabric and colour to suit your wedding scheme and bridesmaids. They even have three maternity specific styles. It’s a bit overwhelming but worth spending some time on given that dresses start at £200. Great for large groups of bridesmaids.