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The re-wearability of bridesmaid dresses | Manolo for the Brides

Think about it–will you really ever wear it again?

One E. Dee Martin of Washington, DC decided to prove that you really can re-wear those tired old bridesmaid dresses hanging in the back of your closet. She and her girlfriends picked out their ugliest wedding frocks and staged a no holds barred pastels vs. autumn shades bridesmaid football game.

Strap pulling is 100% legal

Awesome, no? The first (and by far the most awful) bridesmaid dress I ever wore was made of some scratchy, shiny teal fabric, but I can’t dis on it too hard because my grandma made it and she might stumble across this blog someday. Sorry, gram!

A great little article in the NYT Fashion & Style section discusses the evolution of the bridesmaid dress, from “structured duchess satin” gowns to sophisticated gowns that flow with the body. The article makes the claim that today’s bridesmaid garb is far more fashion forward than the poufy pastel dresses of yesteryear.

“Everybody wants to put their personal touch on the dress,” said Lazaro Perez of the Lazaro bridal house. Requests typically include hems and neckline modifications, or a change in fabrics. Some houses are responding with a menu of options meant to render the one-style-fits-all philosophy of bridal-party dressing as quaint as twin beds in the honeymoon suite.

It’s a nice sentiment, but a quick search reveals that there are still scads of ugly bridesmaid dresses out there that wouldn’t be out there if people weren’t buying them. I think that the gown industry still has a long row to hoe. What say you?

8 Responses to “Think about it–will you really ever wear it again?”

  1. Meg January 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    I lucked out on the one and only bridesmaid’s dress I’ve had to wear: the bride said “any dress in this shade by this manufacturer” so I picked something flattering and wore it five or six times to the opera after that. And then I tired of it and donated it to goodwill :)

    I tried not to torment my one bridesmaid at my wedding. We picked out a nice gown she felt comfortable in and could wear again at a formal occasion.

  2. Melissa B. January 14, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    I read that NY Times article too. I loved the dresses they showed in their slideshow, but unfortunately, “fashion-forward” choices seem to be much more limited in lower price ranges! I would love to keep dress costs for my bridesmaids under $150, which puts Bagdley Mischka and Alvina Valenta somewhat out of my price range. Alas!

  3. JaneC January 14, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    I doubt that my bridesmaid will ever wear her dress again, but the dress wasn’t my choice so I have no guilt in the matter. All I said was that it had to be sort of cranberry red–she decided cut, style, fabric, length, and where to buy it. She ended up having a dress made by a seamstress. It was a pretty enough, but definitely had that “bridesmaid” feel and she wasn’t happy with it.

  4. Never teh Bride January 15, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    It’s so true, Melissa B. — the less bridesmaid-y the dress, the more expensive it usually is!

    That’s a real shame, JaneC. I think that the world will be a better place once dress styles resolve in some way and there are no longer any truly bridesmaid-y dresses.

  5. Dianasaur January 15, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    Since my mom made the bridesmaid dresses, we were able to include them in the wedding budget, so they only needed to buy their sandals. The dresses are renaissance, and two of my bridesmaids probably won’t wear them again, but sister and sister in law have both worn theirs at least once more, and will probably wear them each summer to renaissance fairs. Two out of four’s not bad :)

  6. Twistie January 15, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    If I played football and could squeeze into the dusty rose horror I wore for my brother’s wedding, I’d join in on the pastels team. At least it was cheap.

    That said, the other two weddings I was a bridesmaid in, the dresses were absolutely wearable again. I wore one to the opera in San Francisco several times and got compliments from random opera goers every time. That one was well worth every penny I spent on it…all fifty bucks worth. Not bad, even for 1987.

    When I got married, I had my bridesmaids wear off-white blouses and skirts. I handed them the patterns and the base fabric and told them to trim them as they pleased. One actually had the same blouse from another wedding, ironically enough, and just wore that one. I’m not sure if anyone wore the skirts again, but I know at least three of the five wore the blouses. And since the expense was again in the fifty dollar range, at least nobody was out much money for clothes they’d never wear again.

  7. Never teh Bride January 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    Dianasaur: There’s always Halloween for the other two! I’d love to be in a Renaissance wedding so I could get the dress.

    Twistie: Separates rock in terms of re-wearability! Even if you don’t care over much for the two halves together, you can always wear the individual pieces. I bet your bridesmaids loved you 😉

  8. Kate Cavendish January 16, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    With the trepidation of sounding sacreligious on a bridal blog, I’d venture to say that I really am not a fan of wedding dresses either. To me they appear costume-y, rather than enhancements of a woman’s personality . . .