How to Style Your Bridesmaid Dress

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How to Style Your Bridesmaid Dress

Planning the perfect wedding is a multi-step, complicated undertaking for even the most well-put-together bride. In many ways, organising a wedding is a lot like preparing for an intricate musical or other type of show. Though what the main players, those tying the knot, wear is important, so is the clothing choices made in favour of the supporting cast. Finding stylish, affordable bridesmaid dresses and accessories to go with them is an ever-important element of the planning process. Since these dresses are often custom tailored, it is important to plan well in advance. This also benefits the bridal party, by giving them plenty of time to pay for and obtain their ensemble. Added customisations at the end help to tailor each dress to the wearer, but overall a relatively clear theme exist.

Building the Perfect Bridesmaid Dress

When it comes to selecting the perfect bridesmaid dresses for the big day, it is best to follow a step-by-step process, ensuring all elements of the ultimate dress are covered. The building blocks of the perfect bridesmaid dress include colour, shape, and then final touches like hemming and other customisations, as well as the addition of accessories. In the end, like a carefully baked cake, the dress should be both beautiful and tasteful. The ensemble is meant to accentuate the beauty of both the maid and the bride, without taking away from either.

Selecting a Colour Scheme

The first and easiest step in the bridesmaid dress selection process is selecting a colour scheme. Some brides opt to have every one of their bridesmaids in a different shade of the same dress, others pick a few complementary colours to mix it up a bit. However, the most popular option is to have all the bridesmaids wear the same, solid colour of dress, with potential differences in style or design, meant to draw attention to the particular bridesmaid’s best features and detract from the less desirable elements of their body shape or appearance.

Basic Bridesmaid Dress Design Options

There are some basic styles of dress that have been popular amongst bridesmaids for decades. These are considered to be the canon upon which formal gowns are developed and nearly every dress on the shelf or in the shop will fall into one of these general patterns. When a bride knows which style of dress she most covets for her bridesmaids, finding the perfect dress will be a simpler process overall.

Ball Gown or Full Skirt

The ball gown or full skirt style of dress is more often worn by a bride, than a bridesmaid, because of the sheer size of the style. However, when tastefully done a ball gown style bridesmaid lineup could potentially fit well. This is particularly true when the wedding theme calls for something extravagant and grandiose.

The ball gown cut of dress is what most people imagine a character like Cinderella wearing. The top may be cut one of several ways, though corseted bodices are the most popular option. The skirt of the ball gown cut should be relatively full, this rounded fullness is what sets the ball gown dress apart from others and ranges from the light to the extreme, with several layers of tulle or a similar fabric holding up the fabric from underneath.


The empire waist dress is cinched right below the bustline, falling freely from that point on. The lack of a fitted waist makes it a great option for pregnant bridesmaids or those who simply wish to hide a bit of tummy bulge. It can also make a short bridesmaid appear taller and detract from a small bust. It can also be a great camouflage for wide hips since it does not hug the contours of the body in the way a more fitted dress would.

A-line or Princess Line

Often featuring a corseted bodice, the A-line or princess line dress is a good option for most body types. The design, which features a cinched waist, resembles an 'A' in shape. The top is close cut, as is the waste, with the skirt gradually billowing out from that point forward. To what degree the skirt flares out varies by design, with some opting for a much wider skirt. This flare helps to hide large hips, while the fitted middle aids in providing the illusion of a smaller waistline.

Column or Straight Skirt

The column or straight skirt style of dress is shaped somewhat like a tube. The cut of these dresses dives straight down, hugging to the body along the way. It is a mostly modern look that works well for the tall and willowy, but leaves little room for hiding imperfections in the way that an A-line or empire dress would.


The mermaid dress is cut similarly to the column style, with the addition of a flare toward the bottom, resemblant of a mermaid’s tale. These dresses are typically nipped in at the waste, hug the hips, nipping in again close to the knees, before flaring out at the bottom for dramatic appeal. They may also feature other bits of drama, such as a plunging neckline or a thigh-high slit. This is a good option for a woman who wishes to accentuate her curvy figure rather than detract from it and definitely makes a bold, sexy display.


The fishtail dress is cut virtually the same as the mermaid dress, basically a straight column that nips at the knee only to flare out again toward the bottom. The difference between the mermaid and fishtail is that the fishtail features an additional, triangular piece of fabric that flares outward from the seam to create the 'tail' like appearance. This extra patch of fabric may be the same or a totally different colour or texture than the rest of the dress. Like the mermaid cut, this is a good choice for those who are ready and willing to embrace and accentuate their womanly curves.

Selective Modifications

Once a colour and a general shape has been selected, the bride may opt to allow some customisation on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the bride may choose to have a pregnant or petite bridesmaid wear an empire waist style dress, a curvy maid don a mermaid cut, and some of the other ladies stick with a basic A-line, based on the shape of their body. Other selective modifications may include spaghetti straps, sleeves, or any variety of other small changes between dresses. Of course, if all of the maids are relatively the same in shape and size, then sticking with a general design, and simply having the dresses tailored to fit each woman is perfectly appropriate.


Accessories are often the final, finishing touch to the bridesmaid’s ensemble. Many brides opt to provide accessories as a wedding gift to the women in their bridal party. Others simply add it to the list of required wear and select it during the dress fitting. Regardless a final accessory or two can really help to give the bridal party a 'finished' appearance. Accessories should match either exactly, or at least complement each other in terms of colour or shape. Choices include matching bows, pins, fascinators, corsages, gloves, shoes, earrings, and any number of other coordinating pieces, to be worn by every member of the bride’s entourage.

Finding Your Bridesmaid Dresses and Accessories on eBay

eBay is a great place to look for affordable, fashionable bridesmaid dresses, fabric, and accessories. Whether you are a master seamstress, planning to stitch your own frock or a frugal consumer hoping to grab a great deal on matching dresses, the eBay marketplace contains millions of listings, with likely everything necessary to suit your needs.

To find what you are looking for on eBay, simply use the search engine located atop every page. Input terms related to what you are seeking, for example you could search for something vague, such as, 'bridesmaid dresses' or 'bridesmaid accessories' and uncover multiple listings. Using more specific search terms, on the other hand, will often provide a more manageable collection of results. Examples of more specific searches include, 'pearl earrings' or 'pink bridesmaid frock size 8'. From that point, use the various search refinement options to narrow your listings to a more manageable collection, making it easier to find exactly what you seek.

Get to Know the Seller

Prior to committing to purchase, it is a good idea to visit the seller’s eBay profile to review feedback from previous clients, see other items they have for sale, and even contact the seller via eBay’s messaging system. Remember to leave feedback after the transaction is complete and your package has arrived.


Bridesmaid dresses are important. They are a part of the total presentation and help to punctuate the bride’s gown. As most weddings include multiple bridesmaids, with many different body types, it is important to select an option that can be easily styled to meet every woman’s unique shape, personality, and appearance. Though the bridesmaids may serve as little more than a colourful backdrop for the bride during this most auspicious occasion, every bride wants their day to be flush with beauty, perfection, and style.

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