I’m going to let you in on a secret. I don’t usually have high hopes when I’m asked to wear a traditional bridesmaid dress in someone’s wedding. It’s not that I dislike them. In fact, they are often much less of a headache than searching the whole wide internet for the perfect nontraditional bridesmaid dress. But I never feel particularly fly in a traditional bridesmaid dress, you feel me? Unless I’m being invited to wear sequins or velvet, I just assume that a standard matching bridesmaid dress is going to require several hundred dollars of investment in the name of friendship and eight hours of me feeling “meh” about my outfit.
Can A Bridesmaid Dress Be… Better?
So when our longtime partner and woman-owned bridesmaid shop Brideside told me they were launching a new line of bridesmaid dresses in sophisticated fabrics and modern colors while keeping the price point at $200, I was like…
But they were so excited about the line, and so confident that the cut and fabric of these bridesmaid dresses would be different, that I asked them to send a few samples to the office to see what all the fuss was about.
I put the first one on, and Chelsea and I both instantly exclaimed “Damn, Brideside!” They were, hands down, the most flattering bridesmaid dresses I have ever put on my body. I was expecting the fabric to feel like that shiny satin from 2004. (Have you seen the movie Bridesmaids? That.) What I got was silky, substantial, sexy-as-hell material in rich colors. (My favorite colors in the collection are definitely sunset, zinc, and jasper. Though I’d wear the hell out of any of these in black, to be honest.) The cut made me feel like a million bucks, and all of the designs were clearly very thoughtful about support and shape (and boobs). I mean, these are un-photoshopped cell phone pics where I’m not even wearing Spanx or a bra, and the dresses are a half size too big. And even still, damn.
So I stand corrected. Bridesmaid dresses can be fly.
Online Dress Shopping Is The New Black
I should back up first, though, and give you a little more information about Brideside and why we love them, because they are not your average bridesmaid dress salon. First, they are a woman-founded and woman-owned startup shaking up the wedding industry, which alone feels like 💪. (We met one of their co-founders at our popup in New York City last winter, and she was a goddamn delight.) But beyond that, Brideside has managed to combine all the best parts of IRL dress shopping (aka good customer service, wedding party wrangling, and a stylist who can help you pick out dresses that fit and flatter) with the convenience and price point of an online shop. They have an extensive range of styles and colors—those velvets and sequins I mentioned above? Brideside’s got ’em—and all of their dresses are available in plus sizes. They even have physical locations in cities like New York, Chicago, and Charlotte for those of you yearning for a modern dress shopping experience without having to sacrifice the party vibe.
I had a chance to test out Brideside while shopping for my sister’s wedding not too long ago, and it was by far one of the best bridesmaid dress shopping experiences I’ve ever had—if for no other reason than their style consultant service (which is basically just a fancy name for a real-life person whose sole objective is to make sure you end up with a killer bridesmaid dress). Mine went out of her way to make sure my sample dresses arrived at my sister’s house within a super narrow travel window, so that I could try them on with my sister and my mom in the room. (Pro-tip: Brideside’s Try At Home program is all the joy of dress shopping with your best people, except none of the salespeople or having to put on pants and leave the house.)
And while Brideside has always carried the big name bridesmaid dress designers, last year they launched their very own line of traditional bridesmaid dresses with the sole aim of solving your bridesmaid dress frustrations. They did a ton of research about what kind of bridesmaid dresses people actually want, then compiled that info into a line of gorgeous, flowy dresses priced between $135 and $195. And if the flowy, chiffon bridesmaid dress is what you came for, you can see more of that line right here.
Introducing Aura, My New BFF
The new dresses I tried on this week are an extension of the Brideside line, called Aura. Instead of the sheer, drapey chiffon that we’ve seen all over Pinterest the last few years, Aura dresses are made of a soft, matte chiffon that feels a little more grown-up and substantial. There are also a bunch of styles in my favorite fabric, Lux Crepe, which is this sexy, slightly stretchy fabric so comfy that I’d live in it if I could. And since Brideside is here for your modern Bridesmaid dress needs, the colors are all very 2019—think muted neutrals and rich, colorful jewel tones. Basically, if you’d shown me these dresses on a rack, I would have told you they probably cost $350. And then I would have put them in my purse and walked out the door. But all of the designs from the new Aura line are priced under $200 (and for a limited time, you can get three free fabric swatches and feel the new dresses for yourself). Here’s a look at a few more of my favorites:
The cut on both the Nova and the Portia was so flattering, I barely needed a bra. Also bonus: most of the dresses I tried on from the Aura collection were cut very generously in the bust. Which means if you’re ample bosomed, you’re not looking at a gazillion dollars worth of alterations.
The Stella dress is support central without covering you all the way up. And as an added perk (ha, see what I did there?) the back looks like this:
Yowza. (And yes, somehow this is boob friendly. Don’t ask me. Ask the fabric gods.)
I’ve been in weddings where I ended up taking off my bridesmaid dress halfway through the night because it was so uncomfortable. This dress is not that. Also, you can’t quite tell in this photo, but there’s a slit in this dress that is basically begging for some fancy-pants dance floor moves.
Sleeves. ’Nuff said.
I doubt there will ever be that magical unicorn bridesmaid dress that’s formal enough, looks good on everyone, and I can wear again. But at least now I can have a dress that makes me feel so hot I would find an excuse to wear it again. And that’s something I certainly have never said about a bridesmaid dress before.
The Aura collection is available exclusively at Brideside. You can find it online, in showroom appointments, and (starting in May) via home try-on. Click here to get your free swatches and see the new fabrics for yourself.
This post was sponsored by Brideside, the complimentary styling service dedicated to making bridesmaid dress shopping a piece of cake. With a selection of hundreds of dresses, in size 00–30, and a team of dedicated style consultants, Brideside hopes to make the dress shopping experience a more positive one for all your wedding party members. Shop online use their Try At Home program, or visit one of their IRL showrooms. Click here to explore Brideside’s newest bridesmaid dress collection, Aura, today.