Look back at your mom or grandma’s wedding pictures and you’ll probably see a gaggle of bridesmaids in matching gowns. Gowns they never wore again, that are probably in a dress-up box somewhere or taking up space in a landfill. Fortunately, the days of having to dress your crew exactly the same are gone. Mismatched bridesmaid dresses came in as a trend a few years ago and never really went away. And it’s no wonder! Who doesn’t want their friends to feel comfortable and confident in a dress (or jumpsuit, or other attire) that actually suits them? Mismatched bridesmaid dresses are also a more sustainable approach as it’s far more likely your squad will wear their gowns again.
Of course, there are a few ways to do mismatched bridesmaid dresses. One of the simplest is to choose different dresses in the same color, either off the rack or from a range that has different dress styles. A second is to choose the same dress, but in a range of colors. Both these options allow for a little more flexibility and flare. But if you really want to make a style statement, you’ll want to opt for a more free-flowing approach. For this look, bridesmaids match within a palette, a set of tones, or even a texture like velvet or sequins. It gives your loved ones the maximum input into the dress or attire they wear – and it looks amazing too!
Of course, while mismatched bridesmaid dresses may look effortless, getting it right requires some planning and creativity. So here are my top tips on how to pull off the look successfully.
Pick your palette. To create a cohesive look, mismatched bridesmaid dresses will usually vary by either tone or hue. The tone (how light or dark a color is) allows you to create variation within a color family or spectrum (for example, neutrals or shades of blue). The hue refers to the colors, as well as its intensity (for example, jewel tones or pastels). You can choose a single color and mix tones or choose a range of colors and match them according to their saturation. It’s easier than it sounds! Use a color wheel to help you as well as plenty of reference images and color swatches so you’re clear about the look you’re trying to create.
Collaborate and communicate. It’s important to involve your bridesmaids from the beginning and to allow them to get creative about the dress they choose. After all, they know what suits them best! Start a Pinterest board and/or Whatsapp or group chat so you can all share ideas. Visuals are always helpful, so be sure to show lots of examples of the look you’re trying to create and the color palette. You should also communicate the overall vibe of your wedding. Once your friends are clear on your vision, let them do their thing!
Embrace pattern and texture. An additional layer that can really elevate the mismatched bridesmaid dresses look is to include variation in texture or pattern as well as color. For example, you could have them wear complementary prints. If you’re playing with tone, encourage them to consider a range of textures like lace, metallics, light and airy fabrics, embroidery, etc. Or ask them to choose the same textures in different colors. One way to introduce texture in a ‘safer’ way is to choose a pattern or bold texture for just your maid of honor. This will allow her to stand out and still make cohesion easy to achieve.
Consider dress length. You could allow your squad to choose different length mismatched bridesmaid dresses. However, some brides prefer to keep this aspect relatively uniform. For example, if you’re having a black tie wedding, you may want everyone to rock a floor-length gown. Or, if you’re planning a tropical beach destination wedding, cocktail-length sundresses may be the way to go! Make sure you communicate your choice clearly from the beginning.
Make it easy for them. While some of your bridesmaids will embrace the dress hunt, others may find it stressful. So as well as communicating your vision clearly, try to make it as easy on them as possible. This is especially true if you’re in different places and won’t be able to go shopping together. Paint swatches can be a useful tool. Pick some up at your local hardware store and include them in a sweet ‘be my bridesmaid’ package. Another good option is to choose a particular brand or designer, especially if they have a signature look and feel across all their designs.
Most importantly, let the process be fun! On the day, the one thing that all of your loved ones will share is a big smile and the glow of looking and feeling their personal best!