The process of buying a bridesmaids’ dress has been the same essentially since the beginning of time. The bride picks a gown, the bridesmaids all good-naturedly gripe about it, the bridesmaids all shell out $200 for the dress that they will “definitely wear again,” the dress sits in the back of a closet until it finally makes its way to Goodwill (or even better, a local version of Operation Prom!). If you think the experience is overdue for a revamp, you’re not alone – there’s a whole new wave of websites looking to make things easier, more affordable and all-around better, thus leaving you with plenty of time and money to spend on the brides’ five-day destination bachelorette. Below, check out some of our favorite new ways to shop.
Many wedding guests are already using Rent the Runway for their attire, but wedding parties can also take advantage of the site’s Bridesmaids section – either using the site’s $159 bridesmaid concierge service, or just planning far enough in advance to rent one style as a group. Poshare is also a dress rental platform, but because they don’t keep their own inventory (rather borrowing from boutiques and lenders) there’s a wide array of designers, styles and colors – great for a mix-and-match wedding party. There’s a bridesmaids-centric section with designers you know, so you don’t have to worry about getting measured at a special boutique or ordering bridal sizing. Carefully read each lender’s policy about size exchanges, returns and alternations, then get the bride’s approval and order away.
Borrowing from the super-popular direct-to-consumer model popularized by Everlane and Warby Parker, in order to be able to cut out the middleman and offer all their styles under $100, this L.A.-based startup offers 14 wearable styles in popular bridesmaid colors (rose, mauve, navy), three of which are convertible (meaning you can use extra fabric to adjust the neckline, cinch the waist and so on). And they ship like typical e-commerce, so there’s less of a need to place a giant group order six months in advance as you do with traditional bridesmaid dress retailers. Nervous about buying without trying it on? The site offers free exchanges.
Fame and Partners
This site offers more modern styles (not your traditional draped, strapless dresses) that can be further customized for each girl. The bride picks a style, and then for a fee (starting at $5), the bridesmaid can raise or lower a neckline, alter a strap or change a hemline (and if you love the dress as-is, you can even get it in petite, standard or tall for no extra cost). Perfect for a high-fashion bridal party who wants to each show their individual style without necessarily all having to track down nearly-identical shades of peach for the bride’s approval.
Fast Fashion Brands
More brands than ever are getting into the bridal space, making it super easy to find a great dress from a brand you already know and like, all within your budget. Vici offers an array of under-$100 styles that will work on pretty much every woman, as does Azazie and Lulu's. And even brands without explicit bridesmaid collections are venturing into the space; Reformation, Nordstrom and Asos sort their existing styles into “bridesmaid” sections to help you find affordable inspiration (that you may actually wear again). And to make it even easier, brands with their own bridal lines are even helping match bridesmaid dresses with groomsmen attire: BHLDN teamed up with The Tie Bar to coordinate a series of ties that perfectly match their dress collections.
Though it’s more of a traditional bridesmaid dress vendor, Brideside sets up a “closet” for members of the bridal party to add favorites to and see what else people are getting, but most importantly, it allows the bridal party to try dresses on at home before buying, to get an idea of color, size and fit before shelling out. They also offer a range of plus sizes if that’s a consideration.
What’s your best bridesmaid shopping tip? Share in the comments!