Back to black

For some reason it really irks me when shops assume that bridesmaid dresses and prom gowns are interchangeable. In my mind, there is the potential for overflow, but it only works in one direction. Many dresses created for bridesmaids would make lovely prom wear, but relatively few of the gowns created for today’s senior proms would look right in a matrimonial setting. In the 80s, perhaps, one could go back and forth with impunity, but modern brides seem to be a lot hipper to the notion that there is no reason to outfit ‘maids in itchy, shiny, sequined pouf designed in accordance with the tastes of Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Okay, /rant. I just wanted an excuse to compose a biggish block of text to sit on top of some pretty pictures. The bridesmaid dresses would never be mistaken for something that came from Estelle’s Dressy Dresses…which, incidentally, is where I bought multiple prom dresses back in the day. As much as I love color, I inevitably look back to black whenever I want to feel swingy, sexy, saucy, or sophisticated.


Now, let’s flesh things out a bit with some other nuptial essentials. Who says you can’t build an entire wedding around a really fantastic bridesmaid dress? I could keep going for hours! If you happen to go the black route and find that people close to you question your choice, just remind them that your own joy and the happiness of your guests will provide all of the color your day could possibly need.


18 Responses to “Back to black”

  1. Tizzy says:

    I will always be so proud of my 18 year old self for using my babysitting money to buy a classy Jim Hjelm prom dress.

    Am I the only one who thinks black bridesmaids dresses are kind of lame? I’m not a super tradtional gal and I know they have lots potential to be worn again but I feel like it makes everything look sort of blah and thrown together. Possibly the only time in fashion that black makes things looke less classy.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    Seeing as I love black, I have to disagree, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from, Tizzy! You’re most certainly not the only one who thinks black bridesmaid dresses aren’t all that. I have to say that the relative success of black dresses, in my mind, has a lot to do with context, i.e. how the maids fit into the overall wedding scheme.

  3. Twistie says:

    Tizzy, you are far from alone. I’m absolutely allergic to black bridesmaid’s dresses…or even wearing black to a wedding…or really almost any function other than a funeral, a goth club, or a beat poetry session.

    With all the gorgeous colors out in the world, why oh why do so many women insist that black is the only way to look classy? One, certainly – on the right woman – but hardly the only.


    That said, these are some lovely dresses – particularly the one on the bottom right – but I’d love to see every one in another, brighter color, too.

  4. Melissa says:

    I’m very pro-black, even if it’s somewhat nontraditional. My good friend K instructed her bridesmaids to buy the sleeveless, knee-length black dress of their choice to wear in her wedding. She bought them matching pashmina wraps in a lovely, warm gold color, plus matching necklaces. They all looked wonderful, and I thought that was a great way to get around the problem of asking your pals to spend $200 on a wear-once dress while still making the bridal party look coordinated and cohesive. Bridesmaids’ dresses have gotten a *lot* better in recent years, but I still don’t see myself pulling out my tea-length mocha or floor-length lavendar dresses anytime soon! A black dress, on the other hand, is much more versatile for most women.

  5. Sarah says:

    Melissa took the words right out of my mouth! A friend of mine was asked to be a bridesmaid at not one, not two, but three weddings in the same summer, and she was quite anxious about the cost of the dresses. Luckily, one of the brides instructed her bridesmaids to wear any “black, floor-length, sleeveless gown,” and left it at that. My friend was so relieved because she already owned a dress like that, and it meant that she would be wearing a dress that not only cost her nothing extra, but also looked great on her style- and cut-wise.

    I’ve been a bridesmaid twice, and both times was lucky enough to receive material from the brides and instructed to have a dress made. I thought this was a wonderful solution: all of the bridesmaids matched, but we could design dresses that looked good on our different frames and which we’d gladly wear again. Also, our only cost was that of the dressmaker.

  6. Blake says:

    I’m another of those people really conflicted about black gowns in weddings. I love black. Just about everyone looks wonderful in black. But put all that black together, and to me, it just looks like some kind of apocalyptic gravitational event that’s sucked all the light out of the room and sent it to that parallel universe where socks go. It looks even more suspect in photos (how on earth does a photographer manage to compensate for a blinding white bride surrounded by 12 Pulp Fiction style attendants??)

    After wrestling with this at length, I think I can sort of handle black bridesmaids, IF the canvas is somewhat broken up. Aka silver details in the shoulders or a belt, or a narrow white ribbon around the waist, or lighter detailing along the hem, etc. And it helps if the gown isn’t a prom-style ShinyBlankCanvas. A little sheerness or big ruffles along the neckline make it work better, I think. But that’s just me.

  7. Toni says:

    I had black bridesmaids dresses, which just about put my mom into shock when I suggested the idea. My bridesmaids picked out the dresses themselves, and they declared that the black dresses make them “look skinny.” However, there was colorful embroidery on the bust area, and I tied pink and orange ribbons around the waist for the day of the wedding. Yes, I used a lot of black at my wedding, but it was just the backdrop for the highlights of fuchsia, school-bus yellow, and bright orange. I thought it looked plenty cheerful. (Plus, when my SIL gained pregnancy weight before the wedding, it was super easy to sew some panels of black fabric into the sides of the dress.) Besides, just because I’m the type of person to wear a bright pink dress, it doesn’t mean that my bridesmaids are.

  8. Never teh Bride says:

    What a fascinating color palette, Toni! I think a lot of people would be too scared to try a combo like that, but it really pops in your photos.

  9. sara says:

    I’m having black bridesmaids dresses! Strapless, cocktail length. I’m getting married in late December and the church will be all decked out in Christmas finery and I didn’t want to try to have to match red or green. I think it’s going to look really classy.

    I also wanted my bridesmaids to be able to pick their own dresses. They’re not rich and I want them to have something that they’ll be able to wear again.

  10. Allura says:

    Ummm…I’m pretty sure the upper right dress is very dark green (I have a very bright, true color monitor). It’s actually an awesome color, though.

  11. Ulrika says:

    I’m one of those who always wear black clothes, I just think it looks stylish adn it’s very easy to accoessorize 🙂 Before I got married, I was even thinking not wearing a crisp white wedding gown! However, I donät think duest should wear completely black dresses. Some of our foreign guests did ayway, and I did not get upset – they where all very classy ladies.

    Eventually, we decided to have a black/white/creme-colour theme, and it was very stylish! My bridesmaids were modern and classic wearing black and white dresses.

    (Photo by

  12. Never teh Bride says:

    You’re right, Allura…on my monitor, it looks black, but when I viewed the blog on The Beard’s monitor, I was shocked to realize it’s green. Whoops! Oh well, it’s available in black, anyway 😉

    And great pic, Ulrika!

  13. Jennifer says:

    I can’t get past the wristlet. When I first saw it, I thought “What on earth would one do with a decorated cat litter scooper at a wedding?” Love black (dresses, decorations, etc.), the cake and the invitation but the wristlet? Oh my.

  14. Never teh Bride says:

    Honestly, Jennifer, it was the weirdest one I could find!

  15. LadySun says:

    Two notes:
    1. I had a friend of the family do a black and white wedding. It was STUNNING. (The favors were a little less attractive, though — black and white decorated Christmas balls — black isn’t festive enough to go on the tree, I think.) I think it would lend a lot of class.

    2. My cousin actually wore her bridesmaid’s dress to her prom — which was 6 months before my wedding! Granted, she looked amazing. But you are right about a lot of prom dresses being … inappropriate for a wedding.

    Also, that woman on the lower right, with the aqua background? SOOOOO tired of her. I feel like she’s Ms. Professional Wedding Model, because I’ve seen her in EVERYTHING lately.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hats off (or on, at the next wedding I attend) to you! You totally hit the weirdness mark.

  17. Ninjarina says:

    I am with the anti-black bridesmaid dress camp simply b/c it’s not as easy as everyone claims it to be and YES, YOU CAN MESS UP IN BLACK. Black is NOT a panacea.

    There are two types of blacks – red-based (warm) and blue-based (cool). If you pick the wrong one for your skin type, you will look washed out. If you can figure out which black goes best with your skin, chances are, you will be able to find another non-dark colour that goes with it too so why settle for black? As always, I believe a woman needs to dress for her body; we spend so much time coordinating our accessories to our outfits so why not our skin tone?

  18. Blake says:

    “Also, that woman on the lower right, with the aqua background? SOOOOO tired of her. I feel like she’s Ms. Professional Wedding Model, because I’ve seen her in EVERYTHING lately.”

    Ooooh. I hardly recognized her without the dom heels and the whip in her hand.