You may have thought that picking your bridal couture was the most difficult decision you’d have to make… Until it’s time to outfit your bridal party. It’s your day, but that doesn’t mean your bridesmaids shouldn’t feel beautiful, too. In a perfect world, your besties would be the same shape and size, able to fit into one uniform style. But more likely than not, they run the gamut from short to tall, rail thin to curvaceous, and it’s your job to make ‘em all feel comfortable and confident in their bridesmaid frocks, like the fabulous divas they are. So let’s talk about finding the perfect plus size bridesmaid dresses!
Shopping 101: Plus Size Bridesmaid Dresses
Gone are the days when bridal shops catered only to a size 6. Nowadays, bridesmaid dress designers are celebrating women of all shapes and sizes – including your curvier bridesmaids. Dress shopping for your fuller-figured friends is no longer the stuff of nightmares, with an ever-expanding range of options and higher quality fabrics than ever before. In fact, with the tips we’ve provided, along with the countless options on the market today, shopping for your plus size ‘maids can be downright fun! Ahead, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about outfitting your bridesmaids of all shapes and sizes. After all, dressing your bridal party should be a celebratory experience, not a stressful one, so don’t forget to have fun with it!
Who Is “Plus Size”?
It’s important to know that sizing runs small in the bridal world. More so, it’s important to remember that size is just a number and not a defining factor. So while we don’t like to see those numbers go up, we need to remember it’s not a reflection of our beauty. “Plus size” generally includes size 16 and up, so if one of your bridesmaids’ bodacious curves puts them in this category, keep an eye out for brands that cater to size 18 and above. Of-the-moment brands Kennedy Blue, Bill Levkoff and Bari Jay all offer a number of options in sizes 18+, as do B2, Belsoie, Impression, Venus, Alexia Designs, Jim Hjelm and Landa. A select number of plus-size frocks are also on offer from Mori Lee, Noir by Lazaro, Allure and Christina Wu.
Silk and Satin and Chiffon, Oh My!
When choosing your fabric, steer clear of those with shiny finishes, like satin and dupioni, which can make curvy girls look heavier. Instead, opt for muted, flowing materials like matte chiffon that elegantly drape the frame without clinging. Elegant lace with a bit of movement is another great option for curvier gal pals, as the material is hefty enough so that it won’t cling to every crease and bulge. Go for an A-line style like this gorgeous B2 B163023 with a delicate lace overlay to create a flattering hourglass frame.
Long Live the Empire
You can’t go wrong with A-line and empire waist styles, which highlight the natural waist – generally the smallest part of the body – and artfully camouflage the butt, hips and thighs. A flowing, layered style like the classic yet ever-so-chic Emma by Kennedy Blue is best, as it offers a ton of movement and won’t cling to problem areas. For that extra wow factor, cinch the waist with a crystal-encrusted belt or a sash in a contrasting shade, which draws the eye toward the smallest part of the body. Alternately, you can choose a dress that offers that bit of detailing built right in, like this Bill Levkoff 163 stunner, which features an oh-so-glam charmeuse waistband with glimmering crystal beading. A ruched bustline is a popular piece of trickery for gals both large and small; it has the unique ability to make a smaller bust appear larger, while minimizing the area for bustier gals. This Belsoie L164055 floor grazer ups the ante, pairing a flattering pleated bodice with intricately beaded straps to offer additional support while drawing the gaze upward. Help highlight the positives by choosing a style that flatters your bridesmaids’ favorite features. If your pal boasts décolletage to die for, choose a deep V, like the daring Bari Jay 413 style. If she’s all about that bass, try a mermaid style like the curve-hugging Bari Jay 542 to accentuate that killer caboose.
A Divine Neckline
The sweetheart neckline wins the popularity contest nearly every time, as it’s flattering on most figures. If you’re looking for a timeless, strapless style, the classic Kennedy Blue Sydney boasts a ruched sweetheart bodice and full skirt, while this B2 B153057 gets bonus points for the lace detailing on the bodice, a delightful touch. For the bustier bridesmaids of the bunch, a strapless dress might be ill-fitting or just flat-out uncomfortable. Instead, opt for an illusion neckline like the B2 B153052, which boasts a similar feel to the traditional strapless sweetheart with a bit more support. A one-shoulder style also amps up the level of support, while drawing the eye upward and away from any problem areas down below. For a visual treat, try something like the Bill Levkoff 334, which includes a single strap adorned with rosette buds to really catch the eye. For the gal looking for full support, try a plunging V with wide straps and a ruched bodice, like the Kennedy Blue Chloe. The easy, breezy A-line stunner allows for maximum comfort without sacrificing style.
To Sleeve or Not to Sleeve
For gals looking for a little extra arm coverage, sleeves are always a viable option. A delicate cap sleeve like this lacey Belsoie L164068 offers just a hint of coverage with a high dose of glam. A three-quarter-length sleeve can seriously up the elegance as well; since the arms will be covered, go for a shorter-length cut for just a flash of skin down below. Try a lacey illusion sleeve like the Belsoie L164072, which gives us major Duchess Kate vibes.
Made in the Shade
As we all know, dark colors are instantly slimming; outfit your ‘maids in classic black, midnight blue, or for the more daring, a juicy plum or sexy Bordeaux shade. As an added bonus for your bridesmaids, they’ll be much more likely to re-wear the neutral hue.
Down to the Ground or Short and Sweet?
Floor-length gowns are an ideal choice for the curvier bridesmaid, as they make it easy to cover any areas of concern for the bottom-heavy gal. Steer clear of anything too fitted around the hips, opting instead for a full skirt. Of course, a floor-length gown might feel a bit overdramatic for a more casual affair. A-line styles are your friend as far as shorter styles go, as they cinch the waist while camouflaging the butt, hips and thighs, and they skim the hips just right for a flattering hourglass silhouette.
General Tips and Tricks:
If the girls in your bridal party fall across a wide spectrum of shapes and sizes, it might be helpful to consider one color rather than just a single style, leaving your ‘maids free to choose the cut that’s best for their figure. Getting all those gals to feel comfortable in the same style may be an exercise in futility, so let each one choose what works best for her. Also consider brands that carry two-piece options! Kennedy Blue has some amazing combos, making it easy to find the right sizes and cuts for your girls. You found the perfect dresses for your bridesmaids of all shapes and sizes… Congrats! Now it’s time for your girls to take that final step – finding the right shapewear. The underpinnings can make or break the dress, so a supportive bra, a waist-nipping cincher or a smoothing bodysuit may be just what she needs to complete the look. When all is said and done, a great-fitting dress worn over the perfect shapewear may still bunch or gap in some places, so recommend that your girls visit the tailor for an extra nip and tuck. The right tailor can make an off-the-rack style look like it was custom made, so we suggest you take full advantage! When a girl feels her best, she can kick up her heels and celebrate your special day with you all night long, without feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious. So don’t forget – a confident bridesmaid is a happy bridesmaid! You may also like…