We’ve all heard the sentiment that you shouldn’t wear anything that could date your wedding dress (think fluffy puff sleeves from the 1980s or super shiny satin). But bridal fashion has its own trends and there’s nothing wrong with embracing them, especially if you feel like that’s the best way to express yourself on your wedding day.
“I’m excited to see brides taking more risks in general when it comes to their fashion,” says bridal fashion stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz. "Color, feathers, texture—we’re at the point where anything goes and brides have the opportunity to express themselves and their personalities."
With the start of the new year, we decided to round up the five fashion trends we're most excited about for the year ahead. Plus, we did the hard work for you by finding different dress styles that incorporate these trend-driven notes, while still remaining timeless. Whether you want to switch it up with a mini dress like Lovers and Friends Alize Mini Dress or take the plunge by opting for a colorful gown like David’s Bridal Collection Off Shoulder Satin Gown Wedding Dress, these dresses are the ideal balance of contemporary and classic.
Ornate Embellishments: Watters Frances Gown
Buy it: $2,850, Anthropologie
While simple, pared-back dresses were the leading look for the last few seasons, we're starting to see the return of embellishments like pearls, diamonds, crystals, and all-over beading. Because beading can be heavy—both physically and visually—Hurwitz has some tips on how to not be overwhelmed.
"To pull off an embellished dress without looking like you walked out of the pages of a bridal magazine from the early 2000s, I think the key is to balance the beading with elements of transparency and lightness, such as a soft tulle base or illusion sleeves," says Hurwitz. "Keep accessories minimal and understated to let the dress really shine." This gown is a perfect example it's covered in pearls, but the sheer skirt and sleeves keep it light and elegant.
Size Range: 0-15 | Length: Floor | Materials: Lace
Mini Dresses: Lovers and Friends Alize Mini Dress
Buy it: $238, Revolve
Though the mini wedding dress may seem like a new trend— Kourtney Kardashian recently wore one down the aisle—celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to Cindy Crawford have opted for shorter hemlines throughout the decades. With its organza puff sleeves and oversized bow, this chic design from Lovers and Friends is fun, but still feels formal. Whether it's your main dress or or you change into it for dancing during the afterparty, you'll be sure to make a statement.
Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: Mini | Materials: Organza
Hints of Color: David's Bridal Collection Off-Shoulder Satin Gown
Buy it: $649, David's Bridal
If wearing white feels traditional for you, opt for this season’s newest trend. It's all about hints of a pretty hue: “Look for a dress with a pop of color, like a floral print on a white base, or even a dress that’s fully blue, pink, or lavender,” says Hurwitz. “Add a veil to finish the look and keep it feeling bridal.” This elegant ball gown comes in dusty blue, lavender, and blush and gives off major romance vibes. You'll feel like you're channeling your inner princess as you walk down the aisle.
Size Range: 0-14 | Length: Floor | Materials: Satin
Plunging Necklines: DB Studio Lace Applique Halter A-Line Wedding Dress
Buy it: $649, David's Bridal
Wedding dresses have become more sexy over the years, and one popular way to show some skin is through a plunging neckline. Hurwitz recommends choosing a style with an illusion panel in the front where fabric separates, as it provides more support and helps prevents any wardrobe malfunctions. We like how this design from David's Bridal offers an illusion panel in six different shades, so you can choose the one that best matches your skin tone. Besides that, all you need to pull off the look is confidence.
Size Range: 0-30W | Length: Floor | Materials: Tulle, Lace
Statement Sleeves: Willowby by Watters Cecilia Gown
Buy it: $1,850, Anthropologie
This year we're seeing on emphasis on bold sleeves, with statement designs being the center of attention rather than just a means to cover up. "When it comes to statement sleeves, proportion is key," says Hurwitz. This way, she explains, you won't look like you just borrowed your mom’s wedding dress from the '80s,
"If your dress has a full skirt, look for an elongated puff sleeve that goes below your elbow ,versus a short one that stops mid bicep," she explains. "It creates more visual interest and will keep you from looking like a cupcake!" She also recommends looking for a style with detachable sleeves, like this one from Watters. That way your can change up your look after the ceremony for photos or dancing.
Size Range: 0-16 | Length: Floor | Materials: Lace
Why Trust Brides
Emily Cieslak is an Assistant Commerce Editor for Brides, covering all things fashion and beauty. As someone who loves wearing the latest trends, she is always looking for wedding dresses that embrace today’s look. For this article, she interviewed Gabrielle Hurwitz, a luxury bridal fashion stylist that helps both brides and grooms with their wedding wardrobes.