Why are there so many ugly bridesmaid dresses in the world? What is it about weddings that moves brides to clothe their sisters, cousins, and best friends in such frightening frocks? Obviously, part of it is that all outfits look embarrassingly dated after a while. But there's more to it than that, otherwise bridesmaids dresses wouldn't have such a bad reputation.
I'm guessing that instead of viewing a bridesmaid dress as a piece of clothing, it is, by some brides, viewed as a piece of fabric whose primary purpose is to make a bunch of very different looking women match the tablecloths and boutonnieres. Not every bride is like this, of course - most of us want our favorite females on the planet to feel comfortable, confident, and attractive at our weddings.
And yet, the Ugly Bridesmaid Dress Phenomenon still persists. Why? Because we try to accomplish too much with the dress of choice. It must (1) look good on various body types and skin tones; (2) match our decor; and (3) look visually stunning in group photos. (Because uniforms are the only way to accomplish this, or so we've been told.) And as a result of asking so much from a single dress design, we fail to reach the simple goal of helping our bridesmaids to look pretty by their own standards.
This is why I'm personally a fan of having bridesmaids choose different styles, but with a common denominator of the bride's choice, like color, pattern, fabric, or accessories. Like this:
What I love about this image is that the look of the bridesmaids is so "effortlessly" pretty (or at least as "effortless" as a crew of models, a wardrobe team, and hair/ make-up people can be). A uniform is not needed to make these women look like they share a special bond -- their locked arms, big smiles, and loosely related outfits pretty much say it all. And that's all you really need for a fabulous bridal party photo.
So how about thinking outside of the box when selecting the dress? Skip the bridal salons and shop at stores whose clothes you (and your bridesmaids) generally like!
For example, I really like Mod Cloth. Below are some dresses from this online clothing store that I would have chosen for my bridesmaid had she not fallen for a little J.Crew number.
Casual & Charming: