I’ve been a bridesmaid several times. And I’m not someone who finds it a chore: in my experience, it’s been a lot of fun (then again, my three experiences were all before I was twenty-one, so I never had to plan a shower or bachelorette party or pay for my own dress. But, you know. Details) and I look forward to many more bridesmaid experiences.

But, we’ve all seen the movies and heard the horror stories. Tales of brides gone insane, bridal party feuds, and the one trainwreck we all dread (yet secretly kind-of wish to see): the bad bridesmaid dresses.

Seeing traditional posed photos always makes me wonder where the tradition of dressing a number of one’s friends and relatives in the same exact dress began. ‘Cause unless your ‘maids all have the same basic figure, someone’s gonna look less than stellar.

This is an old dilemma

Enter solution #1: basically different styles, but all in the same color. This is still a hugely popular practice, and David’s Bridal has the market cornered with mix and match separates. So, in theory, this should solve the problem….

So, why is it that I still feel like the bridesmaids are often dressed worse than the most casual, completely-oblivious-to-appropriate-nuptial-attire-guests? And I think I know the answer: cut, color, and fabric, and that only two get to be of good quality.

Best Two out of Three

You only get to choose two: a great cut, great fabric, or a great color. Take any bridesmaid dress into a department store and hold it up to the other cocktail dresses on the racks: there’s something different about your maid dress, right? The nice cocktail dresses, the ones you’d pick from if you were just a guest attending the wedding, have all three elements. Your special-friend-of-the-bride dress has two.

None of these women looks good in taupe. Particularly not the African American one.
A case of bad cut, bad fabric, good color.
There is no reason for these women to look like this. It’s a trifecta of FAIL: bad color, terrible cut, and bad fabric

You Can Totally Wear It Again!

You’ve head it said, maybe you’ve nodded your head and grit your teeth just to stop the screams of horror from escaping your mouth as you ponder the monstrosity devouring your body. But I’ve never, ever worn one of my ‘maid dresses after the wedding, and neither has anyone I know.

And these weren’t frumpy, totally horrible, the-bride-wants-to-make-her-girls-look-bad dresses, either. Mine were, in no official order, from J.Crew, Nordstrom, and custom made. And I would never ever wear them again. Except maybe with zombie make up for Halloween…

Case in point: My boyfriend was over one day, and the sliding doors of my closet were partially open. My rather minimal clothing selection was visible, and back with my dresses, was something that caught his eye.

“What’s that?” he asked,


He pointed, “The green one.”

Among my collection of dresses, which run the gamut from bright yellow to coral, deep red, black, various blues, and even a few bold prints, his eye had picked out the one that didn’t belong. The J.Crew princess seamed, knee-length bridesmaid dress. In an eye-smarting shade of grasshopper green.

You’ve heard my rants on green. It’s such a hard color to wear. And I can actually wear it! This dress had the cut and the fabric. It didn’t have the color.

Moral of the story: if your boyfriend can spot the single bridesmaid dress among a dozen other dresses, and from ten feet away…it’s not a good dress. I only keep it because it’s developed a sort of lore…and if I ever choose to be Poison Ivy for Halloween, I’ve got the costume all set.

So, I think the new rule for dressing the maids is, “which dress looks most like it came from a department store or expensive boutique?”

And if you’re willing to get a little different, why not let the girls pick their own dresses and forgo the whole matching thing all together? It worked in the Sex and the City movie.

If that’s too radical, how about letting the girls wear different shades in the same color family? The look is still polished and put together, but is refreshing.
Green bridesmaids dressesThese ladies even manage to pull of several shades of green. Color me impressed.

Just gorgeous.

Besides; no one will be looking at the maids anyway. All eyes will be on the bride…who will receive even more adulation for letting her ladies look like the fabulous individuals they are.