Monday, July 14, 2008


I saw "27 Dresses" on the plane ride back from Brussels, and it was pretty good. My favorite part was the running line from the bride about the bridesmaid dresses she had picked out: "And the best part is, you can totally shorten it and wear it again!"

Haha. If only it were true.

My two younger sisters, who haven't been in any weddings before, are approaching bridesmaid dress shopping with "future wearability" in mind. I'm pretty sure the rest of my bridesmaids have given up on that tack. I certainly have never worn any of the three bridesmaid dresses I have again, although one has the potential to be cute if cut short, and the other was a two-piece, and the corset top does have some possibilities. The third one I'll probably never fit into again, even if I did want to wear it again.

Nevertheless, while bridesmaid dresses have little chance of being worn again, it would be nice to offer the ladies some choice, at least so they can pick something flattering on the one day they will wear it. Plus, at the wedding, the bridesmaids will be between 20 and 28 years old, some with skinny figures who would look good in a rag, and others with sensitive areas they'd like to display only to their best advantage. One will not yet be old enough to legally drink, and two will have children. It really wouldn't be nice to stick them all in the same strapless thing. So from the start, I've had the idea that I would pick a color, and they would pick the dress.

J Crew was a good possibility; they had a "spiced wine" color last fall that was pretty much perfect, and their special occasion dresses come in a variety of styles that would work well for everyone.

However, by the time I started looking (which was last fall, and admittedly early), the spiced wine color was already on clearance, so there weren't a lot of sizes or styles left. I emailed J Crew and they said they would have a plum color that was similar to spiced wine that will debut next month. That certainly has possibilities, but the other problem with J Crew is the price -- those dresses retail for $250 and up, and while that's OK for some brides, I just can't do it. The only argument for it (which one of my friends has made), is that it might be better to spend $250 on a dress you will legitimately wear again (and these dresses are definitely great for that), rather than $150 on a dress you'll never wear again. I'm not sure. I'll wait until August and see what that plum color looks like, then see what everyone thinks, I guess.

In the meantime, I had been browsing designers, looking for a good purple color. I wanted dark purple, colors that are often called "eggplant," "aubergine," or "plum." I didn't want a true purple, like "amethyst," or a light purple, like "lilac." Let me tell you, I got quickly acquainted with color names, that's for sure!

I also wasn't completely in love with satin, and kind of preferred the soft, flowy look of chiffon. I ended up browsing through bridesmaid dresses by Eden, Bill Levkoff, David's Bridal, and a million others, as well as Mori Lee. I ended up compiling some dress pictures and sent them off to my bridesmaids for feedback. Some went through and picked out specific dresses they liked, some just gave general feedback ("prefer not strapless"), and others said, "I can find something I like in any of the designers you suggested," which was majorly helpful. So then I had to go out and actually look at these colors in person, because online you really couldn't tell what you were getting.

There is a long, drawn-out saga of events, confusion, and frustration that occurred between March and May that I won't bore you with; suffice it to say that Mori Lee has a color called "aubergine" (which is French for "eggplant") that is 100% silvery-lilac that everyone knows about, and another color, "eggplant" that is pretty much a perfect dark eggplant purple, even though their website doesn't really reflect it and some dress shops claim to know nothing about it. Have I mentioned how ridiculous the bridal industry is? Plus, Mori Lee dresses are on the more inexpensive side, starting in the low $100s at online retailers like House of Brides.

(I've used House of Brides before; I convinced my friend (and bridesmaid) Jamie to take a small risk and let us order from them for her bridesmaid dresses, because it was going to save us each at least $30. It was a great experience, the dresses came in quickly, and they were totally legit, so she was relieved, and I would totally use them again or recommend them to anyone.)

So as of right now, the girls are supposed to be picking out a Mori Lee dress (I even decided I didn't care about the slight color difference between chiffon and satin, and they can wear either), then calling Mori Lee directly to double-check that it comes in eggplant (I'm happy to do it for them as well), and letting me know what they've picked. Sorry, but I can't find any photos of their eggplant dresses online to share. I suppose if J Crew's "plum" turns out to be a great color when it "debuts" (they're word, not mine) next month, we might have some more decisions to make, but I really can't imagine that everyone wants to spend over $250 on a dress.

Then I saw these pictures over on And Stanley makes three:

...and I wondered if I should let go of any desire to match at all, and just tell them all to find any dress in purple. What great pictures, don't you think? Maybe I'd tell them no super-light lilac, but anything else would be OK.

On the other hand, two of my bridesmaids are medical residents and I haven't talked to either of them for more than 10 minutes in the last few months, and I'm sure they don't have time to go shopping for a dress of their choosing. Everyone else is also very busy. Believe me, I've even gotten, "just tell us what to wear, and it will be fine" from one or two of them, so I am led to believe that sometimes, too much choice can be a bad thing.

So that's where I stand on bridesmaid dresses at the moment. Same designer, same color, different fabrics, different styles. I think we can still set up that dresses-on-a-hanger photo with much success, don't you?


Blablover5 said...

I actually let my girls just get whatever dress they wanted. One already had a navy dress she could wear and my MOH found one that was a bit lighter than that at a department store.

I've got a nice range of blue going which I like as I love that color (even one of the ring bearers is wearing a sky blue).

hwong14 said...

I really really like the idea the more I think about it. And I think it works beautifully in blue, especially, like that one photo of all the blue dresses hanging in the window. Let's just say I haven't ruled it out!