Style 911: The Delicate Art Of The Bridesmaid Dress

“I’m getting married in September, and there is nothing that I want more than for this to be a super-duper chill affair. To that end, I’d rather my bridesmaids just find something comfortable to wear that they like and that looks good on them, but a few of them have told me that they need just a little more direction than that. How can I set up some guidelines for bridesmaid dresses and still keep the process fun and easy for them?”

Telling someone to go buy whatever makes them feel comfortable will certainly result in three people wearing cocktail dresses and the other two going to H&M and buying an unintentionally sheer freakum dress and thinking that’s okay. Maybe it is, but most likely, it’s not.

It is  fantastic that you are an understanding bride who wants the lovely people you’ve selected to be your bridesmaids to endure as little stress as possible. With that said, I still get the need to exert the teensiest bit of control over what everyone’s going to be wearing. You can still do this without being a tyrannical, mouth-foaming bridezilla. Here’s a five-step plan to make sure everyone is happy.

1. Pick a theme: Short dresses? Long dresses? Patterned or solid? Do you hate purple? Figure out in general what you like, and then be as specific as you can about it. Black dresses are a nice, easy option there are a billion options for people to pick. Also, a black dress is infinitely more practical than a turquoise chiffon nightmare or something long, satin-y and mauve. Be as specific as you can, here, even it feels like you’re being bossy. Telling someone to get “whatever is comfortable and looks good” is leaving the door wide the fuck open for a lot of looks. So, be specific, because it’s helpful and because they’re asking you! They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t want the answer.

2. Set a price point: You don’t want your bridesmaids to go broke buying a dress that they will maybe never wear again. So, be a nice person and set a price point so someone doesn’t end up dropping the equivalent of a rent check on an outfit to wear to your day. When the playing field is level, you can keep everyone’s resentment in check.

3. Give them a deadline: So you have your theme settled, now tell them when you want the dress purchased by. It doesn’t have to be a drop-dead date, but I imagine it would be nice to see these dresses say, a month or so before the actual wedding, so that you’re not arguing with your cousin Eileen about whether or not the sequined horrorshow she picked up at Forever21 is appropriate or not.

4. Tell them what you don’t want: It’s going to feel shitty, but once again, people need boundaries. What one person thinks is wedding appropriate is vastly different than what someone else thinks is wedding appropriate, and both those things are probably different than what you think is appropriate. You’re not policing other women’s clothing choices. You’re just trying to help them out so that you avoid late night text fights and passive aggressive rehearsal dinners down the line.

5. See them all together, in a room: If some of your people are in other states, this will be difficult, but try to amass as many of them as you can, in one space, so you can see how they look together. There will be one person who buys a beach coverup and thinks it’s appropriate to wear, and unless you are actually getting married on a beach, the answer is probably no.

Got a pressing style or beauty question you want answered? Send ‘em all to [email protected] and I’ll help you out!

[Photo via Shutterstock]