Sure, a wedding is the bride's shining moment, but you want your bridesmaids to feel beautiful, too. We can't pretend that it will be easy to choose one magical dress that works for all, but there are tons of amazing options that your girls are sure to love — no matter what their shape or size. You just need to know where to look.
If one of your 'maids is plus sized — and you don't have personal experience with plus-size shopping — there are a few things to consider to make your girl feel comfortable and confident. Are you the bridesmaid to be? Give your friend a few parameters to ensure she'll pick something you like. Whether you're choosing or shopping for plus-size bridesmaid dresses, follow these tips for the ultimate in figure flattery.
If you're the bride ...
Check the size range.
Before you settle on a style or designer, make sure they accommodate all the sizes your party needs. Many popular bridal outfitters offer up to size 16, with maybe a handful of styles available in 18 and 20. But true plus size doesn't even start until size 16. The last thing you want is for the other bridesmaids to purchase non-refundable dresses, only to have one friend stuck without even a workable option.
Remember larger stores offer more.
In general, you can count on a wider size range if you stick with larger national stores, such as Macy's (which offers up to size 24W in some styles), David's Bridal (up to 26W), and even through Target's website, which has wedding wear available to size 28W.
Consider one color over a single dress.
While many styles that would work for more standard sizes can be altered to accommodate all figures, absolutely no one wants to be singled out. Instead, give your girls a color and let each choose a style that best flatters her body. "Ultimately, it's the fit and proportion that's extremely important for a woman of any size," says Juliana Chan, David's Bridal Design Director of Bridesmaids and Social Occasion.
If you're the bridesmaid ...
Accentuate your positives.
If you have the freedom to choose your style, pick a dress that shows off your favorite feature. If you love the definition of your collarbone, try an off-the-shoulder number. Got an amazing décolletage? Play it up with a sweetheart or V-neckline. Emphasize your waist by adding a sash or choosing a dress with a cinched waist — mermaid and fit-and-flare silhouettes work just as well, too.
Try creative camouflage.
Every woman has areas she'd like to deemphasize. A-line shapes are forgiving to the thighs while showing off the waist. Or, Chan suggests, lace illusion sleeves, which is a stylish way to flatter upper arms. And in general, she says, soft draping or ruching over the belly, bust, or backside also enhance figures.
If you can, ask your bride to consider a dress in a more substantial fabric, such as a stretch satin, heavy jersey, or taffeta (so long as it's not too stiff). It provides a degree of support without showing off every ripple, crease, and dimple.
Get great underpinnings.
"Having the right undergarments is essential," says Chan, "and can really highlight the shape of the dress." Make sure your bra provides enough lift and support. Or try a waist cincher that goes from the waist or under the bust to mid thigh if you're looking for a little smoothing.
Take it to a tailor.
Finally, remember: If you're not shaped like a model (um, who is really?), it's nearly impossible to find an off-the-rack dress that fits perfectly. A good tailor can transform your dress into something that looks like it was custom-made for your body — so use one!