If you’ve recently got engaged, congratulations! You might have already said yes to your dress, but when it comes to choosing one for your bridesmaids – where should you start?
Whatever budget you’re working with, you’re going to want your girl gang to look the very best versions of themselves. So we think there’s no better place to start the search than the great British high street!
Obviously we all come in different shapes and sizes, so if you have multiple maids, you’ll want to look for a style that’s comfortable and complimentary to them all – a tall order for just one dress. Instead, you could consider choosing a shade or colour scheme and mix and match different silhouettes to flatter everybody. Other things to consider is the time of year. If you’re having a beach wedding in the height of summer, light strappy numbers might be just the thing. However if a Christmas wedding is on the cards, don’t forget a sleeve or cover up – your girls will thank you for it when they’re on their hundredth photo opp.
Finding it hard to choose a hue? The most hotly tipped colour for 2019 bridesmaid dresses is Pantone’s colour of the year – ‘Living Coral’. Perfect for summer weddings either here or in some tropical far flung destination, it’s a shade that’s surprisingly flattering on most skin tones. However, classic navy blue continues to be one of the most pinned shades for maids on Pinterest.
So what’s the protocol when it comes to paying for the dresses? It’s a controversial topic, but we reckon that if you expect your girls to wear something specific it’s your job to foot the bill – after all, it’s you that asked them to be by your side on the big day. However if you’re happy for them to wear whatever they like (or even something they already own) then we’d say it’s fair game. Whatever you decide, try to be thoughtful of everyone’s budget (yes, that includes shoes and accessories) and ensure they’re involved in the decision making process.
So whether you’re a bride on the hunt for your besties, or a concerned bridesmaid, desperate to avoid some naff tailored dress that’s more torture than couture, read on for a dose of modern bridesmaid inspiration.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Ghost have long been a high-street stalwart when it comes to bridal wear. Famous for their slinky satin bias cut numbers, they offer maxi dresses in oh-so-pretty pastel shades from a size XXS through to XL (equivalent to a UK size 6-16). Dresses do come up long, perfect for leggy pals, however a petite version is available which measures four inches shorter than the mainline range.
Their trademark crinkle effect lends the dresses a distinctly vintage feel, with prices starting from a reasonable £225. If you can’t find something you love from the ready to wear collection, Ghost also offer a "dye-to-order" service whereby you can select from 13 colours and have the dress you love in the shade you want. Alongside the adult bridesmaid dresses, you’ll also find matching shawls, as well as flower girl outfits for the little ones.
IndyBest Pick: Salma Dress: £225, Ghost
Featuring a bra friendly cowl back, the Salma dress is ultra-glam and comes in a choice of nine colours.
Fairy-tale dresses at surprisingly dreamy prices, Needle & Thread provide a lot of bang for your buck with romantic ruffles, delicate sequins and ditsy florals. With a selection of maxi and knee length styles in pretty shades of pink and white, the British brands’ signature styles combine embellished bodices with simple, lightweight tulle skirts which make length adjustments a doddle.
Available in a wide range of sizes (from a UK 4-16), the latest collection is inspired by Victorian ballerinas. If you love this vibe, there’s also a Needle & Thread bridal range, so you can all get in on the action.
IndyBest Pick: Rococo Bodice Gown, £210, Needle & Thread
With intricate multi-coloured embroidery, this style would suit a bohemian summer garden wedding.
If the thought of traipsing up and down the high-street with the girls in tow sounds like a chore – why not turn to the internet. ASOS currently have 176 bridesmaid styles in stock – ideal if your maids all have very different ideas of what they want to wear. With free delivery when you spend over £25, and free returns, we’d suggest planning a night in with your bride tribe and trying a huge selection from the comfort of your own home. You’re bound to find one that fits the bill.
IndyBest Pick: TFNC Bridesmaid Multiway Maxi Dress, £55, ASOS
Halter, v neck, one shoulder – this clever style can be twist and turned to wear however you want and the stretchy fabric is very forgiving. Great for groups that want to coordinate without being matchy-matchy.
If you do have to buy your own dress, make sure it’s one you’ll want to wear again and again. Already well-loved by wedding guests, Rixo is the cool girls go-to brand for event dressing. Available in sizes XS-XL (UK 6-16), dresses come in an array of bold clashing prints and all over sequins with details including eye-catching side splits and perfectly positioned v necks.
IndyBest Pick: Margo Dress: £305, Rixo
With its celestial placement print and festive red shade, this long sleeve number is crying out for a winter wedding. The sassy v neck is low enough to feel sexy, without making Aunt Sally blush.
This London-based brand shot to fame thanks to the popularity of its Azaelea dress, and we still think it’s a solid option for bridesmaid duty. It’s since been updated in fresh new colours, prints and finishes, with prices starting at £250.
Their signature guipure lace feels significantly more expensive than it is, whilst the neutral lining keep things surprisingly modest. That being said, the delicate spaghetti straps are best suited to those with a petite bust and sizes only go up to a UK 14.
3D Floral Azaelea Slate Dress: From £290, Self Portrait
With its thin straps this style is probably best suited to girls that can go braless, however once on the dress feels very supportive. Balancing out the revealing neckline, the dress finishes at a very respectable mid shin length and comes fully lined in a beige short slip. In equal parts pretty and flirty.
Motee Maids understand that one dress may not suit all, so they’ve come up with a very simple solution for the creative bride. Their interactive website allows you to mix and match bodice shapes, skirt styles, embellishment and colours, before getting measured at one of their UK stockists. Available in a UK 6 to 22 with a choice of lengths, you can even request a colour swatch to help you pick shoes and accessories whilst you wait for the style to arrive. Prices start from £195 (average £235).
IndyBest Pick: Create your gown, From £195, Motee Maids
With over 800 combinations, the possibilities are endless.
You can count on LA-based brand Reformation for simple silhouettes that are always sexy. Perfect for the eco-conscious bride, each style has details of how much carbon dioxide and water you’re saving, and prices are surprisingly affordable. Last year they launched at UK stockist Brown’s, but for the full selection you’ll still want to order directly from the US site. Sizes are American, but equivalent to a UK 4-16 – which is ideal if you’re looking for particularly petite women.
IndyBest Pick: Venezia Dress: $278 (£213.21), Reformation
Available in champagne, black, python and a floral pink print, the midi length should mean you won’t need to take it up, meanwhile the adjustable straps will fit a plethora of cup sizes.
We’re obsessed with the new Phase Eight bridesmaid collection, which goes up to an inclusive UK size 26. With a mixture of maxi, knee length or even jumpsuits, silhouettes are simple but contemporary. They offer a nice array of colours, from vibrant cobalt to pastel pinks, and clever design details include ruched waists and pleated skirts which flatter all shapes and sizes.
IndyBest Pick: Victoriana Jumpsuit: £120, Phase Eight
Who says the bridal party needs to be in pretty dresses. We love this jumpsuit for it’s flattering fluted cap sleeves and self-tie belt which cinches you in at the waist. Finished with a bra-friendly v back, it’s available in 12 colours, but we think this shade of pine will look divine for an autumn wedding.
Although more well known for their bridal collection, Grace Loves Lace also has a selection of two-piece bridesmaid ensembles for the bohemian wedding party. Hailing from Australia, styles are created from beautifully intricate French eyelash lace that fit like a second skin. Traditional these styles are not – however if you’re looking for an individual, hopelessly romantic look, you can stop the search.
IndyBest Pick: Belle Lace Strapless Top: £310, Grace Loves Lace
Two-piece bridesmaid outfits feel fresh for 2019. This show-stopping strapless number comes in pretty pastel shades of oyster, sandstone and seaglass and can be paired with the streamlined Belle silk split skirt, or go full on va va vroom with the fuller lace skirt.
If budget is tight, round up the gang and hot foot it to Oasis – pronto. 99 per cent of the collection is priced at under £100, despite design details including full length pleated skirts, multi-way functionality and delicate lace. Shades range from pretty pastels – think mint, blush and lilac – as well as deeper jewel tones of burgundy and navy. Even if your bridesmaids can’t agree on one style, they are designed in such a way that they will complement each other no matter what.
IndyBest Pick: Bardot Slinky Maxi Dress, £85, Oasis
Channel your inner A-lister and slip into this sexy full length, off the shoulder dress which has a distinctly old-school Hollywood vibe about it. Plus, the silvery grey hue should make it simple to blend into the brides chosen colour scheme.
Coast’s latest collection is a clever range of complimentary styles, utilising the same fabrics and colours to suit every bridesmaid in crowd pleasing shades of navy and pink. Dresses go up to a size 18 and are available in short or regular lengths, and there’s also a curve collection for your plus size maids, which goes up to a size 26. Dresses not your thing? The lace bodice jumpsuit look every bit as chic and will suit a modern venue. Clever finishing touches include floral corsages to wear around the wrist.
IndyBest Pick: Lyndsie Lace Maxi Dress: £149, Coast
Finished with a great big bow at the back, this one will turn heads when they’re walking down the aisle. The lace bodice and cold shoulder detail is balanced with a simple demure hemline that’s slightly higher at the front (all the better for not tripping up in).
The verdict: High street brands for bridesmaid dresses
If you want to feel like a star for the day, the stunning full length Ghost dresses can’t be beaten. However if budget is tight, the ASOS collection will undoubtedly do the job, whatever your shape or size. For something truly unique, it’s well worth checking out Grace Loves Lace, a brand that’s still under the radar – for now.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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