I have two bridesmaids who are my best friends in New York. Naturally, I want them to look good, and, like many brides, I don't want them to have to spend a fortune for the dubious privelege of being my bridesmaids. However, because both of my bridesmaids are 40, I wanted something a bit sophisticated, not prom dress-like. The combination of low price and high style proved a bit of a challenge.
I also have the interesting additional challenge that my two bridesmaids are exact opposites in terms of shape: one is petite with wide hips, narrow shoulders, and a small chest. The other is a plus size with broad shoulders, no hips, and a large chest. It seemed impossible that they could both look good in the same dress. But, as we shopped, we found to our surprise that it wasn't impossible. Here are a few of the ones we considered very good choices.
From David's Bridal, our first stop:
This dress was $155, but the fabric felt so cheap that even though they liked the style, we felt we could do better
From ariadress.com, in all silk:
This dress was $215, with a much nicer fabric (all silk shantung). I thought this was a bit expensive, especially since they charge an extra $40 for a size 16. This pisses me off: are they going to charge us $40 less for a size 4?
After these two, we went to RK Bridal, a bridal store in Manhattan with an almost warehouse store-like feel. You wander through, yank dresses off the racks, and try them on. This is the first place we went where my larger bridesmaid couldn't fit into any of the samples, yet the samples were all too big for my petite bridesmaid. This makes for a difficult visualization exercise. Nevertheless, we really liked this one, a Bill Levkoff, and we thought for sure we would end up ordering it:
RK's "No Frills" price on this is $144, which is great, though there's still that $30 surcharge for the larger size (grr). The fabric is polyester, but it didn't feel too too cheap, so I think it's a good compromise. We liked the structured fit of the bodice, thought it looked quite adult, and it gave both my bridesmaids a nice shape. It's also a two-piece, which gives it a certain versatility in fit and also in possible rewearability. My only concern was that the diagonal seams on the bodice would make it difficult (and expensive) to alter.
With this dress in mind, we visited one final store, Here Comes the Bridesmaid, where we tried on a number of things (including an Alvina Valenta which looked really great on my petite bridesmaid--but the sample, a size 10, barely fit her, who is normally a size 4, so there was no way to get it on the other bridesmaid. What is with the sizing on these things??), but ended up really liking another Bill Levkoff:
This dress costs $160 (+$30 surcharge), but we really liked it. I have to admit, when I found this picture online after the fact, I was really surprised: I would never have thought this style, from the photo, woud look good on either of my maids. But it did. We all like the more evening-dress style. It's pretty without looking like a prom dress, and it will be easier to alter than the dress above. We have a winner!