Suzy Chin’s Maggy silk chiffon dress
Reader Suzanna asks: “I am going to be a bridesmaid in an upcoming wedding. The only requirement for my dress is that it has to be purple. What kind of dress should I get?”
Once upon a time, the thought of being a bridesmaid sent shivers down fashion-savvy backs. The mostly unflattering, matchy matchy frocks were usually destined for the dust bin after the wedding was over.
Fortunately, this is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Not only are dresses from wedding-specific vendors becoming more wearable, but brides are increasingly open to allowing their bridesmaids to simply wear any kind of formal or semi-formal dress they wish, as long as it fits a general color scheme–as is the case for Suzanna.
For her, then, I first needed to consider her body type and what dress styles were most flattering for her. Other considerations:
- Time of the wedding. This will help us determine whether the dress should be cocktail, formal, or semi-formal. It also (often) corresponds to dress length.
- Season. Is it a spring wedding? Summer? Fall? In what climate? This will dictate things like sleeves vs. sleeveless, or even the need for a matching shawl or wrap, if not for the ceremony, then for traveling to and fro and for the reception.
- Budget. How much is she willing to spend? She is also more likely to make an investment on a dress that can see repeat wearings.
Suzanna is attending a warm spring wedding in the afternoon, so I looked for a knee-length dress with short sleeves or sleeveless, in her budget range of $150 or less.
She has slightly narrow shoulders and a full bust, so the most flattering necklines for her are V or U shaped to elongate the neck and lengthen her visually. A sheath or wrap dress, perhaps with ruching on one side, will emphasize the narrowest part of her body. I also looked for structure in the bodice to provide enough support in the bust. Finally, I stayed with online vendors so she can order quickly and easily, from any part of the country.
Here are the recommendations I gave her:
- J. Crew. The flutter sleeves on this silk tricotine Cecelia dress are flattering to the upper arm. From $80-225, depending on color
- Kiyonna. $88. This site has great style for plus sizes, 10 and up. This Lily surplice dress is a perfect style for her body type, regardless of size.
- Macy’s. This sleeveless satin Onyx dress is a bit on the shiny side for me, but it provides an option in a lighter shade of purple. And it’s on sale for $74.
- Macy’s. I loved the shutter tuck detailing of this London Times item. On sale for $62.
- Nordstrom. The color is a little on the bright side, but it’s a great shape and you can’t go wrong with Calvin Klein. $158.
- And last, but not least, my favorite, also from Nordstrom. This Suzy Chin dress is a fantastic color in a fantastic shape. Best of all, it’s now on sale for $67.
I can’t wait to see which one she chooses!
- Your turn: What are your favorite sources for bridesmaid dresses that aren’t too bridesmaid-y?
[Tip of the pen to @candacehr for introducing me to Kiyonna.]