Home Shopping The Love List Fab Finds Friday: Bridesmaid Style Book

Dresses that Look Great and Won’t Break the Bank

There are many things that are wonderful about being a bridesmaid. What, after all, is better than getting the chance to celebrate one of your best friends? There is, however, one big drawback: the price tag. Whether it’s flights and hotels or a beautiful shower gift, it’s easy to feel like one of a bridesmaid’s chief duties is going into major credit card debt. And how is a bridesmaid to feel if she spends a zillion bucks on a dress that’s clearly made for someone with the opposite body type or skin tone?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are just a few tips for matching the dress to the bridesmaid, all while not breaking the bank.

Finding the Right Dresses for the Right Shapes

Pear Shaped

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The full skirt on this Ann Taylor strapless dress is perfect for pear-shaped bodies, accentuating the waist while hiding hips and thighs beneath a full skirt.



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With petite bodies, resist the temptation to go all out with frills and heavy layers, as that will only weigh the bridesmaid down. Instead, go for dresses, like the ModCloth Pixie Dress here, that end above the knee to highlight the legs and make them look longer.


Tall and Slim

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For tall and slim bridesmaids, don’t hesitate to go for a long, elegant look, like this enchanting dress from ModCloth — very easy for this kind of body to carry.



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Because boyish bodies lack curves, you’ve got to add them in. That means going for dresses with distinct lines, particularly those that cinch the waist and emphasize the shoulders and hips, like this. Also, it may not be traditional, but don’t shy away from patterns that emphasize movement towards the curves, like with the dress pictured here, or from frills and ruffles that will lend a more feminine look.



If you’re working across a broad range of body types, either of these two dress styles will do the trick.


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This ModCloth v-neck dress will draw attention to the waist on most bodies, while the A-line skirt will accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes.

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Bridesmaids dresses with an empire waist, like this one from ModCloth will look great across body types, as they flow naturally outwards from just below the bust.


How to Keep That Piggy Bank Intact

Typically, unless the bride is set on bridesmaids dresses that are above everybody’s budgets, the bridesmaid is responsible for buying her own dress. However, with the price tag for dresses ranging so wildly, you have to get a little creative to keep those costs down.

1. Nix the Bridal Shops

Add the word “wedding” to any kind of shopping trip, and get ready to experience an incredible mark-up. But, honestly, besides the adjective, what’s the big difference between a bridesmaids dress and a nice cocktail dress? Rather than heading straight to a bridal shop, check out the wares on offer at your local department store. Even a boutique will offer a wide range of prices. If it’s a sale you seek, shopping online is always a great idea, especially if you’re willing to think past the big name shops. You never know what deals you can find!

2. Casual Locations Call for Casual Looks

These days, having an elegant, over the top church wedding is as much a theme of one’s choosing as is having a wedding on the beach or in the backyard. While the contrast can be striking, you don’t necessarily need sequined gowns if the nuptials will be exchanged somewhere earthy, like in a farmhouse. Instead, reflect the personality of the place with a little personality of your own like these bridesmaids, who are unified through a flowered patterns, boots, umbrellas, and laughter.

3. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)

Yes, we’re bringing in that old pneumonic from English class. There’s no need for your bridesmaids to be dripping in gems. In fact, to ensure the bride is really the center of attention, the simpler the bridesmaids dresses, the better. Try picking a single color, and then having the bridesmaids order whatever dress is best for their shape and budget in that style. Or, choose a range of colors that the bridesmaids can then use for their hunt in non-bridal stores — pastels, for instance, compliment a wide range of skin tones, and they’re nice and light and celebratory. Most bridal stores have swatches, or you can stop by a paint store for chips that the bridesmaids can then take with them.

4. Gain Unity Through Accessories

If you still are set on more of a theme, don’t worry; you can always find one through accessories. Be it bracelets, clutches, sashes and scarves, or even something quirky like umbrellas, the dress isn’t the only way to get that unified look. Even better, accessories are cheap to buy at most any store, and they’re also fun to make with the help of DIY sites like Pinterest.

5. When in Doubt, Rent, Borrow or Adapt

Yes, bridesmaids dresses can be rented, just like tuxes. They also can be borrowed from friends or family members, or bridesmaids can tailor dresses they already have to fit the theme. These are all especially good options for bridesmaids who can’t stand the idea of only wearing the dress once!


So you see? There are plenty of ways to find the right dress for all bridesmaids, no matter what their body styles or budgets. You just need a little DIY elbow grease, and a bargain hunter’s mentality. Let the wedding — and the hunt — be your creativity.


2 replies to this post
    • So glad you found it helpful, Clara! I seriously am OBSESSED with ModCloth for BM dresses! Do you have a theme picked out?

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