5 Style Rules for Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaids

Julie Sabatino, a.k.a. The Stylish Bride, is sharing her expert advice with us once again! Based out of New York City, Sabatino helps engaged girls find their dress and style it — essentially she helps her brides-to-be get red-carpet ready on their big day. Today, Sabatino is breaking down how to make sure your bridesmaids look cohesive if they're wearing different dresses.

Bridesmaid style has come a long way in the last few years. Gone are the days of everyone wearing the same dress. Today, brides are mixing it up by having 'maids rock dresses with different styles, fabrics, and colors that make it way more interesting and fun. This trend allows you to highlight each individual woman's style and ensure she's wearing a dress that makes her feel great.

However, doing the mismatched look presents a new set of challenges. If it's not done right, you can end up with a very disjointed-looking bridal party. So, here are my tips for embracing different dresses while presenting a cohesive fashion story.

Keep the length of the dresses the same: We've all seen those photos on Pinterest where the wedding party is wearing a variety of dress styles. The difference between the ones that look good and the ones that don't? The hem length. When you have mixed hems, it is very hard to create a cohesive look; so stick to one length.

Vary only two features: I advise my clients to choose two things maximum that can be different about each dress and keep the rest the same. For example, different necklines and colors (in a pre-decided color palette) but in the same fabric. Or, different fabric (lace, cotton, chiffon, brocade, etc.) and necklines but in the same color. Changing more than that can start to look very confused.

Shades of color: Different colored dresses are very popular right now. But it can be difficult to select ones that look good together since you're limited to the colors the designer offers. Also, the small swatches on a card often look very different when they are made up in a gown. The easiest way to visualize how they will look together is to check out the full-size samples in daylight, and switch out different options until you are happy with the combo. And consider pre-selecting the color each bridesmaid will wear — can prevent a lot of inter-wedding party conflict.

Don't let them do it alone: A lot of brides love the idea of giving their bridesmaids a color and the freedom to shop for their own gown. Unless it's black (which I've seen work nicely) this method can really backfire. Think about it: If you tell your six girls to find a long navy dress, you are going to end up with six different shades of navy that may not blend well. You are also going to have different fabrics that won't photograph in the same way. The result? Awkward photos!

Don't give them too many choices: This actually goes for all bridesmaid dresses, not just mixed-and-matched ones. Make a separate appointment without your bridesmaids to decide their options in advance. Pre-select the dresses, necklines, and colors that you like. Then, let them choose their favorite. It will save you a lot of confusion at the ordering appointment when you are all together.

One last word of advice: Forget the idea of selecting a dress that they will "wear again." The fact is that no matter how pretty the dress is, they will always feel like a bridesmaid wearing it. So choose a dress that you like and they feel good in, and hopefully you will both enjoy them on your wedding day.

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