‘You will totally wear this again’, said every 1980’s bride, as she purchased peach taffeta puffy tiered dresses for her bridesmaids.
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As we know, all these nightmare frocks were never worn again. They were all sent to second-hand charity shops, where they were pulled off the rack and tried on for a laugh, and a few of them made it to 1980’s dress up parties.
However, our track record for buying wearable outfits has not improved. For some reason, bridesmaid dresses seem to age quickly, and it’s rare that they are ever re-worn.
This is a problem because:
- You’re usually spending a bunch of money on something that’s worn once
- The fashion industry is terrible for the environment, and re-wearing clothes is one of the best ways to help minimise our impact
So how can you ensure the outfit you buy for your attendant is one that won’t age, will be re-worn, and not banished to a second hand store to be giggled at by 20 year olds? Does this unicorn exist?
Bridesmaid Attendant Separates
Mix-and-match separates so that the top and skirt (or pants, more on that later) can be worn separately. For instance, a cute lacy top can be re-used under a work suit, with jeans or nice pants, with a skirt… it’s a very easy-to-re-wear wardrobe item.
For the bottom half, there are many tulle or silky ankle-length skirts. These aren’t always super-wearable in real life for everyone (have you ever tried running after a toddler in a floor length tulle skirt?) but they are easy to hem and re-use as a knee-length skirt. Also, the boho-chic look is very ‘in’ right now.
Pants and Trousers
Pants and trousers are so versatile, whether they are an ultra-tailored cigarette pant, or a flowy wide-legged palazzo pants. Paired with a lacy or silky top, they look elegant, or with sequins can be fun and sparkly. Pants offer the added bonus of being highly functional, with pockets and plenty of scope for wedding cartwheels.
There are coloured suits for sale in men’s clothing stores, and these can be tailored to fit perfectly.
Colour and Pattern Choices
Choices of colours and patterns can be the difference between re-wearable, or not. Is your attendant happy to wear green, or rust, or peach again? If the colour they are wearing is beyond the shark nets for them, it’s going to be a no-go, regardless of how amazing it is.
Also, colours and patterns can date quickly. That 1990’s maroon or 1970’s pale yellow are instantly recognisable, and will end up being discarded.
Black never goes out of style (in New Zealand, at least), and every dress-wearer has at least one failsafe in their wardrobe that gets used for every slightly formal occasion. Blue is another easy-wear colour. Ask your attendants what colour they feel comfortable in and follow their lead.
Also, patterns are a great way to ensure a bridesmaid dress is casual enough to pass as a summer BBQ dress.
Keep the Cut and Style Flattering
Some styles are universally flattering, and if people feel good in their clothes, they’ll wear them again. Opting for v-neck dresses, tailored and beautifully fitted outfits can help these clothes stay on rotate in the wardrobe.
Still Want a Traditional Bridesmaid Dress?
There is always the possibility that a floor-length gown can be hemmed after the wedding, which can help it to look less ‘weddingy’. Although, this is what every bride says, and 99% of the time it does not, so remember that this is probably very unlikely to happen.
Rent a Dress
You can go as elaborate, trendy, or bridesmaid-y as you wish, and it gets re-used, again, and again. No one has to worry about storing a dress in their wardrobe forever and then feeling guilty when they drop it off to the Salvation Army.
While renting a dress does have some limitations on sizing and colour selection, it’s cost effective and great for the environment.
Versatility is Key
Whatever clothing choice you choose, versatility is the name of the game. Your attendants don’t have to be matching, so keep that in mind too; maybe you can have them in the same colour but different dresses, or even entirely different prints in the same shade of your wedding colour.
Above all, if you are keen on your bridal attendants re-wearing their outfits; ask them what they can envisage themselves using again.