Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
- Note the coordinating chunky necklaces. Image via Brooklyn Bride.
- LBDs make for great bridesmaid dresses. Image via Ruffled Blog.
- Image via Instyle.
- Image via Offbeat Bride.
- Image via Offbeat Bride.
- Color blocking - bold and super playful. Image via Ruffled Blog.
- Complementary colors! We like how the dresses coordinate with the ties...
- A pastel rainbow... Image via Offbeat Bride.
- Maybe we wouldn't do the satin, but you have to admit, the overall effect is pretty fun.
- Prints require a bit more thought, but can work - especially in the tropics!
- Bowties for the boys!
Bridesmaid dresses get a bad rap, but it doesn't have to be that way. While there are some great companies designing more versatile, re-wearable styles, to us the whole idea of a batallion of matching bridesmaid-soldiers seems a bit outdated. Our favorite approach to the bridesmaid dress conundrum is to select a color theme, and have your ladies-in-waiting choose dresses or separates that they love.
This approach solves all of the most trying bridesmaid-dress-buying problems. Your friends can pick dresses they like, in colors that suit their skin tones, and in flattering styles they can reuse. Plus, by selecting off-the-rack designs, you avoid the lofty expense of custom-made garments. To create a sense of consistency and demark your bridal party, find coordinating jewelry and accessories (a cute gift for your special ladies), get bouquets that play off your color theme, or simply pin a beautiful flower in their hair. Don't feel you're limited to one color choice either: we used pink and black for our nuptials, and one soon-to-be-wed friend is excited about bright yellow and navy for her bridesmaids' dresses and groomsmen's ties. If you're feeling bold, rainbow arrays are especially fun in tropical settings. And you can apply this same approach to your best men: have them wear a suit in a color they already have (navy, black, greys) and treat them to different ties that fit their individual style, from classic silk to skinny hipster styles.
We love this seemingly casual approach to bridesmaid style because it removes any potential anxiety about expense and replaces it with a fun opportunity to see your favorite people in the world shine on your special day in their own personal way. We've seen this approach in action, and it make for good pictures: vintage frocks next to deconstructed minis and qipao-style necklines, all connected through the color theme, and all reflecting the beautiful personalities of our nearest and dearest.