What to Wear to a Bridal Shower as the Bride

Surprisingly, it doesn't need to be white.

woman standing against a flower wall

Photo by Karena Dixon Photography

Style-wise, the most important thing on a bride's checklist is, of course, finding the perfect wedding dress. Once that's done, the true fun begins, and you can concentrate on every other ensemble you're expected to wear; one being, your bridal shower look. Whether you're celebrating your upcoming nuptials at a champagne brunch or keeping things casual at a backyard soiree, a bridal shower outfit should feel comfortable, look great in photos, and fit within your wedding vibe.

However, it's sometimes difficult to find a bridal shower look as this event is oftentimes planned by the maid of honor, close friends, or bridesmaids, so you may not exactly know what to expect. Additionally, many brides question whether or not they should wear white, and don't necessarily know the general style rules to follow for this celebration. Luckily, we spoke with expert stylists who filled us in on exactly what is sartorially needed for this soiree.

Read on to learn exactly what a bride should wear to a bridal shower, along with answers to a few other questions you may have about the expected outfit requirements for this event.

Meet the Expert

  • Erika Cartledge is a personal stylist and style educator who runs the brand Your Chic Is Showing. She has styled a number of brides and grooms for their weddings.
  • Lesley Brickman is a wedding gown scholar and fashion stylist. She offers concierge services for the luxury bride under her brand The One Gown.

How to Decide What to Wear

There are a few things that should always be considered when searching for a bridal shower look. Personal stylist Erika Cartledge, of Your Chic Is Showing, says, "I'm pretty squarely on team 'wear what you want, it's your day' but there are some things that can help inform that decision."

To start, consider what the weather will probably be like first, as you'll want to wear something that is appropriate for the temperature and season. A sundress isn't going to work for a winter shower, and a chic pantsuit likely won't fell right in the heat of July. "For a spring bridal shower at 2:00 p.m. at a country club, the bride may feel more comfortable in a flowery summer dress, while a 10:00 a.m. brunch at a private home during the fall would call for something a bit more cozy," says Lesley Brickman, owner of The One Gown.

The venue, dress code, and overall theme of the shower are other considerations to keep in mind. A bridal shower at a fancy restaurant or country club is going to call for a different outfit than a soiree at a relaxed location. If a specific dress code has been set, the bride should also adhere to that as any other guest would. Lastly, it's important to factor in the theme into your attire selection. "I like to talk through the theme and colors of the party with my bridal clients so we can incorporate any of those details as well," Brickman says.

Once you've narrowed down these factors, the other details come down to the color and style of outfit you feel most comfortable wearing. After all, in order to look and feel your absolute best, you need to wear something that makes you feel confident, and that means staying true to who you are. "A bride should also think about what she feels most comfortable wearing and not use the bridal shower to invent a new persona," Cartledge advises.

Selecting a Color

While white seems to be the shade most brides choose for a bridal shower, both Brickman and Cartledge agree that there is no rule on what color you should wear. "A lot of my brides don't opt for white at all, instead choosing a color that makes them feel confident or matches their wedding," Cartledge says. "Others go for pretty prints or fun patterns. Dressing for your bridal shower should be fun and express your personality." In other words, wear white if you want, but it's totally okay if you'd rather opt for a different hue.

Even so, Brickman does note, "that being said, I think it’s nice to have a 'bridal moment' whenever possible during the engagement and have the [person] of honor wear white of some kind, even if it’s a white-based print or accessories."

Selecting a Style of Outfit

There's no specific style you should follow either. Cartledge encourages brides to stick with their personal style and taste, and notes that she's pulled everything from white pants suits to white midi dresses for clients. Brickman notes that it can also depend on where you live, saying that clients in the South usually go for dressier outfits, while clients in places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles look for edgier and more relaxed styles.

Dresses are usually a go-to, but they're not the only style a bride has to wear. Cartledge recommends jumpsuits, which are flattering, comfortable, and versatile. "There are so many styles and options [of jumpsuits], you can really glam them up for your special day. Think: Lace, sequins, rhinestones," she says. Brickman also recommends matching sets, like a top and skirt, shorts, or pants.

How to Make Your Bridal Shower Outfit Special

Now that you understand the basics, the next step is to really make your bridal shower ensemble stand out. Here are a few ways to personalize your outfit and make it feel extra special.

  • Incorporate your new last name into the outfit. "If the bride is going to change her last name, the bridal shower may be a fun venue to try out her future monogram on an accessory such as a clutch or piece of jewelry," Brickman says.
  • Wear heirloom jewelry. "Your bridal shower is a great time to wear something that has been in your family," Cartledge says. This can also be a nice way to honor a family member you've lost.
  • Play around with a veil. "Pop on a fun, short veil at some point during the shower for Instagram-worthy photos with your friends," Brickman suggests.
  • Add bridal touches to accessories. Whether you're wearing white or not, you can add extra bridal touches to smaller details of your outfit. Opt for pearls or rhinestones on a belt or bag for something that is fun without being overwhelming, Cartledge suggests.

Bridal Shower Outfit Ideas

Ready to begin the search and start shopping? Below, Cartledge and Brickman provide a few outfit ideas that you can follow to find something perfect.

  • A cocktail dress and heels. This is a go-to look for a reason, as it's versatile and looks dressed up no matter how you style it. "A-line and wrap dresses are versatile, and you can easily add interest to these silhouettes with an off-the-shoulder detail or sleeveless option," Cartledge says.
  • A pantsuit or jumpsuit. This can be a chic and unique option that works well for most types of celebrations and themes. "They're so unexpected in the very best way," Cartledge says.
  • Luxe fabrics. "Think a satin slip dress paired with a great pair of statement earrings and a faux fur crop jacket," Cartledge says, while also noting that this is perfect for a glamorous bride.
  • A sun dress. "If the venue is a friend or family member’s home, a more casual sun dress can fit in perfectly," Brickman says. If the shower feels more casual, keep your look simple with sandals or flats.
  • A blazer dress. This trendy option is a favorite for Cartledge. "There are so many options in different lengths, colors, and with amazing details like bold buttons or cut-outs," she says. "Another unexpectedly chic option."

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