Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, September 2004
There’s a memorable scene in the 2008 movie 27 Dresses in which the sweet, lovelorn protagonist Jane Nichols (played by Katherine Heigl) flings open the double doors of her overflowing Manhattan closet to reveal an astonishing assortment of bridesmaids gowns: kooky, eyebrow-raising remnants of, yes, 27 separate weddings. From spangled mesh crinolines to ill-fitting satin corsets, each piece is more comical (and notably poof-ier) than the last.
While our fictional film heroine had no choice in her wedding attire, in the real world it seems that an increasing number of brides are loosening the style reins and allowing their designated ‘maids to select their own dresses in a specific color palette. Of course, there are rules. To avoid a total cacophony of shades, gowns should be synced to a single fabric swatch (honestly, even navy has a surprising number of variations). And although it’s imperative that every woman in the wedding party find her own figure-flattering silhouette, it’s advisable to give guidelines on fabrications, necklines, hem lengths and heel height too.
Granted, this new dress code demands careful attention, but if the bridesmaids feel fashionably happily-ever-after then, chances are, so too will the bride. These four examples are what you might call a mix-match made in heaven.