There are many different fabric types for bridesmaid dresses and outfits. Which one will be best for your bridal party?
While making a choice about the fabric types your bridal party are wearing, think about the type of event. Lush satins and sequins are fabulous for a luxe theme, while a silk or crepe is ideal for a more traditional feel. If you’re into whimsical or boho looks, tulle and chiffon will probably be your go-to.
You also need to think about the style of the dress too. Some fabrics simply wont work for some outfit styles—some fabrics have no stretch (or only stretch one way), or are too sheer for fitted styles.
This is a heavy satin fabric with a matte finish. It’s gorgeously soft and flowing, made of silk. Charmeuse is ideal on fitted and tailored style dresses. It doesn’t have much stretch, so while the fabric is soft, it’s not super ideal in situation where you require room to move (such as pregnant bridal attendants).
A classic bridesmaid fabric, this sheer and floating fabric is elegant and also falls under ‘boho-chic’ category. It’s generally an overlay or in several layers, and very ‘swishy’. It is light and skims beautifully over curves, creating elegant silhouettes. Due to the weave of the fabric, it can be pulled and stretched out of place, so best not to have it on super tight or fitted styles.
Crepe used to be made from silk, but now it can incorporate wool, cotton, and synthetic fibres. It can be knitted, woven, and have a number of different finishes. One notable characteristic is that the fabric tends to (intentionally) have a textured/ crumpled appearance. This makes it resistant to creasing, easy to wear, and very forgiving. It’s a breathable fabric, has a beautiful fluid appearance, and drapes easily, making it look very elegant. It also can be stretchy in all four directions, making it supremely comfortable and maintaining it’s shape, even after washing.
A sheer, lightweight, and luxurious fabric, organza is typically incorporated in evening gowns. It’s delicate, and easily catches on snags or sharp jewellery. It also cannot be cleaned in a washing machine, as it will be damaged. It’s often incorporated in an outfit in bows or other decorations, rather than being the entire outfit. It has no stretch.
Some people refer to satin is ‘silk’, but it definitely is not. Most satins are shiny, soft, and while they may have contained silk in the past, they tend to be made from manmade materials now. They can be heavy with a beautiful drape and lustrous finish, or light and breezy. Satins can be very unforgiving as they tend to exaggerate curves and reflect shadows. The fabric can tend to become staticky and can cling, depending on the type of material that is used to make it.
There are a huge variety of satin fabrics, some stretchy, some not. Shop around to find the one that is most flattering and suits the style of the dress. For example, a non-stretchy, light, and highly shiny satin can be bias cut to remain flattering.
Silk refers not just to the fabric, but also the fibre that is used to make the fabric. It’s commonly used in other fabrics too, because it has a beautiful lustre and shine. Crepes, organza, chiffon are all commonly made using some element of silk.
Silk fabric is elegant, strong, and luxurious. It’s expensive, because around five thousand silkworms are required in order to create one kilogram of silk, and they have a lifecycle of six to eight weeks. This presents a considerable investment by the business (plus the lives of those 5,000 silkworms).
Pure silk fabric creases relatively easy, and usually requires gentle handwashing. The colour often bleeds or the fabric can get watermarked. It’s also only slightly stretchy and can be pulled out of shape relatively easily. However, the sheen and depth of colour in silk are outstanding and it feels beautiful on the skin.
This mesh/ net fabric is called tulle, pronounced ‘tyool’. It might bring ballerina type tutus to mind, but it can be an incredibly elegant and soft fabric. It used to be quite a stiff type of material, used to make underskirts to provide volume, but now there’s silk blends, cottons, rayon, and nylons used. There can also be stretch tulle, making it a super comfortable option.
Bridal veils are a type of tulle, and you can find amazing couture bridal outfits with tulle too. It’s a very versatile way of adding texture and interest to a gown.
Velvet is a lush, rich, heavy fabric, perfect for winter weddings. It is warm, soft, thick, and usually has a beautiful depth and sheen to it. While it used to be made of silk, it’s likely that velvet today is made from synthetic fibre, otherwise the cost is prohibitive. It is forgiving and accentuates curves, but it can date easily, depending on the style. It can be stretchy if needed, and lends itself well to fitted gowns.
The Best Fabric for Bridesmaid Dresses Is…
Whatever you and your bridal party like. It’s that simple. Remember too, different colours reflect light in different ways, and will vary outside or due to lighting colours inside. When possible, get samples of the fabric and:
- Look at it inside and outside to see the colour variation but also how it reflects light
- Crumple it up in your hand and hold it for a few seconds to see if it wrinkles easily
- Give it a shake and see how it moves
- Pull it from left to right, top to bottom, and from the corners to see the stretch properties
- Check on the care details; does it need drycleaning, or can it be washed in the washing machine?
Hopefully, combined with preferred outfit styles, you can make a decision about what fabric type will be best.