Before being asked to be a bridesmaid it was a role I had given little thought. About the only thing I knew I’d have to do was wear a dress that was chosen by committee and not by myself. As I am a vain fool, this was a big deal to me. Normally I attempt to be the only person wearing my style, colour and cut of dress. As a bridesmaid (unless you are solo) you are going to be wearing the exact same thing as someone else. It’s a gut wrenching thought.
These are the cold hard facts of buying a bridesmaid’s dress...
A LOT of people will see you in your underwear
This was the biggest shock to me. I’m no prude but I’m also not an exhibitionist. People who need to (and most importantly, want to) see me in the nip are welcomed with no blushes or mock shyness. However I’ve never been able to change in the open of a gym locker room without being sure that everyone else is staring at my little belly and thinking ‘fat cow’.
So imagine my horror when I discovered trying on bridesmaid dresses involved numerous middle-aged women seeing me in my sensible pants and bra. Most bridal shops only stock one of each dress style in only one colour option so the dresses you try on are in sizes that most people will be able to fit into (smaller people are pinned in, larger people might not be able to do the zipper up). The result of this is that a woman comes into the changing room with you, helps you into the dress and then secures you in it.
After a while you start to get used to someone watching you dress and assisting, it feels sort of like having a lady servant which is pleasing for a short spell. In overcoming my fear of a strangers seeing me in my pants I felt liberated, it made me feel in touch with my European easygoing side. It wasn’t a sensation that lasted.
You will wear satin (or some other material you would choose to avoid for day-to-day living)
Problems with satin: it’s very unforgiving, it creases as soon as you sit, it can feel both too light or too heavy with the slightest change in temperature. The truth is the majority of traditional bridesmaid dresses come in satin, it’s a horror you will have to live with.
To minimise the paunch that the satin will inevitably make you look like you have, invest in some good seamless sucky-in knickers. Even if you don’t need your belly held flat in normal outfits you will for this one. Also aim to have zero VPL. Pippa Middleton proved you can shine in a bridesmaid’s dress as long your arse looks good, follow her posh pert lead.
You will have to fight to maintain your own identity
Being a bridesmaid is an odd thing, for a day one of your best friends dictates things about your appearance that, should she attempt at any other time, you’d tell her to bugger off. But because it’s her special day you don’t say anything out loud about the colour scheme or the satin because if that’s what she wants then you are more than happy to oblige.
As well as the bride, there are also the other bridesmaids to consider. You have to work as a team, decide what is most important to you all about what you wear and push for that as one unit. It’s remarkably different to any clothes shopping you will do again where your priority is to wear something that feels entirely ‘you’.
You will be wearing something that looks decent on all of you rather than the dress that looked AMAZING on you but not so good on the others but you are still you. Refuse any suggestions that you should; all have the same hairstyle, same skin tone (it was briefly mentioned I was ‘too pale’ compared to others!), wear shoes of differing heels to be the exact same height, have identical make-up. You will only be a bridesmaid one or two days of your life, do not allow what you are for the rest of them to be forgotten.
The actual day that you shop, although testing at times, is best dealt with if you approach it as your moment to create a montage of you trying on different prom dresses ala a cheesy 90s teen movie.
That’s the dress covered. Posts about the hen and the big day itself to follow soon.