Bridesmaid dresses you really can wear again

May 2

Brides have long told their closest friends and family a little white lie when asking them to be part of their bridal party. “Don’t worry,” an infinity of women have uttered sheepishly to their bridesmaids, “you’ll be able to wear the dress again.”

In truth, most women of a certain age have yards of pastel chiffon shoved into the far corners of their closets, never to be seen again.

Thankfully, designers have begun shifting the aesthetic of bridesmaid dresses to more closely mirror ready-to-wear pieces, says Julia Lichtman Kepniss of Hitched bridal salon in Georgetown. Neutral shades like charcoal, black and tan are pushing out the lilac and cornflower. Choices in fabrics have expanded past the crinkled chiffon and silk satins that dominated the last decade. Lace, tulle and jersey have emerged as more versatile options.

Restyling these dresses so they may be worn to other events is possible. It all comes down to accessories, says Michele Lopez, a stylist with the Fifth Avenue Club at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase. Large earrings or a dramatic heel can change the entire feel of a dress.

Bridesmaid dresses get transformed from wedding to wearable fashion, thanks to styling by The Post's Cara Kelly. Dresses by Jenny Yoo ‘Coco’ in metallic dot jacquard; Amsale charcoal jersey; Alfred Sung style D610; and Jenny Yoo ‘Harlow’ in black metallic swirl lace. (Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

Tailoring an item is also key. Slimming the silhouette of a skirt, taking up a hemline or removing straps and embellishments can help make a begrudged purchase into a treasured staple.

E-mail us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.

For more articles, as well as features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit The Washington Post Magazine.

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