Mismatched bridesmaids seems to be an increasingly popular trend and I think it is definitely a trend that should be applauded! Gone are the days of bridesmaids having to be clones right down to having their hair parted the same way (I once heard of a bride going nuts because one of her bridesmaids’ hair was parted to the left while the others were to the right… did someone say “bridezilla”??).
When I first began planning my wedding I agonised over what to choose for bridesmaids dresses. I had 5 bridesmaids who were all as different as you can get in terms of colouring, shape and style and I wanted them all to feel comfortable and look fabulous in what they were wearing. In the end I asked each of the girls to choose a black dress that was girly and summery and, most importantly, that they loved.
I think every one of my bridesmaids looked gorgeous and hopefully they felt gorgeous too because they were wearing something they had chosen and that suited them, not something I had forced them into. I genuinely hope that they all wear their dresses again. (And if they don’t there are a couple of them that I am eyeing off to borrow!)
So, how do you go about pulling off the mismatched look but keeping you girls coordinated? Firstly you probably need to think about your motivation for having mismatched bridesmaids – is it because you want their individual styles to shine through in their outfits, or is it because you want them to look different to one another but still want them to wear a particular style? The motivation behind your decision to have mismatched bridesmaids will govern how much control you establish over what they pick – how many guidelines or restrictions you place on them, whether you shop together or allow them to go it alone, and whether you need to approve their decision.
Pick a colour, combination or palette
If you genuinely want your girls to wear something they love and that is truly them, you can simply choose a colour and let the girls pick their own frocks with no restrictions, or purchase matching fabric and allow them to have their own dresses made in whatever style they choose. This is a practical way to go if you have bridesmaids who are interstate or overseas. You can choose a single solid colour, a specific colour combination, or if your girls are a bit fashion savvy, give them a colour palette and let them choose dresses, patterned or plain, keeping to that palette. Bear in mind that there is a certain amount of trust involved in this method and you probably wouldn’t do this unless you thought all your bridesmaids had reasonably good taste!
Pick a style
If you have a specific style in mind but want each bridesmaid to choose a dress within that style that suits them, you could pick the style (e.g. 50s tea party, 20s glam, modern cocktail) and let your bridesmaids choose the dress. You should, however, be mindful that if the style you choose is not a style all of your bridesmaids are familiar with or would normally wear you may need to shop for the dress together. Shopping together can be a good idea if you aren’t specifying a colour as this way you can make sure there aren’t going to be any major clashes (although sometimes clashes can actually work!).
Another way to do the mismached thing is to have your girls wear the same dress then accessorise each of them differently – think statement jewellery, shoes, belts or sashes, headpieces, cardigans, patterned hosiery and clutches. Again, you can give your girls a colour or style and let them run with it or buy the accessories yourself. This can be a good option if you want your girls to look a certain way but still want them to be able to wear the dress again – with lots of accessories you can keep the dress simple. For example, if you would love to have your bridesmaids in floral dresses but don’t think it is necessarily their style, you could go for a single coloured dress and accessorise it with floral cardigans, bright coloured shoes and floral headpieces.
Here are some great examples of mismatched bridesmaids for inspiration…
An example of using dresses and accessories by the same designer to create a coordinated look (Image by Lara Hotz):
Similar shades, different dresses, and the gorgeous bouquets tie it all in together (Image by Brandon Kidd Photography):
A combination of two colours like grey and white can work well (Image by A Bryan Photo):
A classic and stylish combination of black and cream and your bridesmaids can even mix it up by wearing skirts and tops (Image by We Love Pictures):
Dresses in different shade of the same colour with mismatched shoes (Image by One Love Photography):
Different floral patterns with the same colour base can look gorgeous and interesting together (Image by Lisa Devlin):
This combination of yellow and creams is summery and tied together perfectly by these bouquets (Image by Love Me Do Photography).
And finally my very own very lovely mismatched maids, each in their chosen black dress (Image by Samm Blake).