It used to be that bridesmaids almost always wore the exact same dress in the exact same shade. These days, though, that's not necessarily the case. Modern brides are starting to think outside the box when it comes to dressing their maids, which means you have a few options if you want to let your bridesmaids pick styles and even colors that work best for them. Let them choose from a range of necklines (strapless, halter, sweetheart), a range of colors, (aqua, olive, turquoise), or ask them to choose their own dress in a specific hue. Many designers have developed dress lines for just this purpose, so you can get many different cuts in exactly the same shade of pink.
The options for bridesmaids dresses are about as wide-ranging as the options for cocktail dresses, which means not only do you have a lot of different styles to choose from, but bridal designers have caught on that bridesmaids dresses should be beautiful, not hideous. Translation: For the first time in a long time, they're trend-based and style driven. As you start to think about what your maids will wear, keep in mind that the best kind of bridesmaid dress is one that can be worn again...and again, and again.
The unadorned solid-color dress is most likely to scream "bridesmaid," so choosing one with trim, or in a print, might give your friends the best shot at wearing it as a guest to someone else's wedding. The exception: The little black dress, which is always wearable.
Anything from a floor length evening gown to a short, dressy cocktail dress will work for bridesmaids at a black tie optional event. For a black tie event, you can feel free to be creative, but make sure to keep your bridal party's comfort in mind when doing so.
The men, (fortunately or unfortunately) do not have a lot of options. For a white tie event Emily Post suggests a black tailcoat, matching trousers, white pique wing-collared shirt with stiff front, a white vest, white bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black patent shoes and black dress socks. For a black tie event a black tuxedo is appropriate with matching trousers, a formal white shirt, bow tie, cummerbund or vest to match the tie, and black patent shoes and black dress socks.
A white dinner jacket, black trousers, and black tie are acceptable in the summer or on a cruise.
Khaki pants and a casual button down shirt always work for a more casual event, but according to Emily Post, khaki shorts or Bermudas are acceptable as well as polo shirts and/or a sweater or sport jacket. Remember, it's your day, just use your best judgement depending on what type of event you're hosting and you'll be fine.
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