One of our readers, CP, sent us a query: “In September, I’m getting married and would like to dress my bridesmaids in something off-the-rack around $300. I’m looking for a dress that could be worn with heels, flip-flops or barefoot. I like flowy materials and clean lines. The wedding will take place around sunset either on the beach or in a very green backyard. Do you have any good ideas?”
First of all, congratulations! And second, we know that bridesmaid dresses can be a complete nightmare, but they can be fabulous (and affordable), too! Here are a few of our suggestions:
For traditional preppy choices, J. Crew has a nice variety of chic occasion dresses at an affordable price. For a short option, we recommend the the Ella cotton cady dress, which has clean, elegant lines; for a long option, there is the Avery silk dress, whose selling point is the twisted cross-back straps. Both retail for $250.
Black is a modern choice and always wearable. The cotton voile wrap dress ($295) by Martin Margiela is an ultra chic, clean, contemporary option – but it would still work with heels or dressy flip flops. If you want something softer, flirty and feminine for your bridesmaids, try this gauzy cotton Yeojin Bae Bridget dress ($200). Still flowy, but adds a dash of whimsy with tiny ruffles at the waist. I love the Indie Beaded Dress as well for the beaded trim and champagne-hued straps.
For some vibrant shots of color, may I suggest the Blue Holly dress ($188) or the After-Party dress ($168), available at Anthropologie? Cheerful and fun, this dress will take your bridesmaids beyond your wedding and to another event in the future. Saja also does beautiful frocks, like this light-as-air chiffon Ume dress on sale for $189. For a long gown, I like the beautiful Billow dress by Marie Marie, on sale for $132. Wear with pretty gold sandals during the ceremony and throw on a shawl for the nighttime celebrations!
The pastel color palette usually strikes terror into the hearts of bridesmaids, but the key is choose tones that are a bit more muted and to generally stay away from the usual satin. I adore this Rebecca Taylor double silk layered dress done in peacock blue. So pretty and feminine for $175. Vera Wang does a stunning ruched silk dress that is somewhere between lavendar and gray that is simply graceful. For a more playful number, Anne Klein has a beautifully pleated halter dress in aquamarine ($190). This inverted pleat frock ($169) by Camilla & Marc is a super modern option, but is toned by the bottle-green color.
If you want to splurge a little more, here are a few suggestions: Kay Unger Gathered Satin Dress, Badley Mischka Brocade Shift Dress, Carmen Marc Valvo Netting Cocktail Dress and Marc Jacobs Embroidered Slip Dress.
Hope these give you some ideas and gets you started on the search for the perfect bridesmaid dress! If you need more suggestions, just email us and we’ll be happy to search some more. TheKnot.com also is a great resource and has a nice bridesmaid dresses guide. Let us know what you end up choosing!