Bridesmaid Style Guide
There's no reason to subject your friends to tired taffeta. The most modern bridesmaids' dresses are sleek, simple, and something they'll want to wear again.
If the leading lady is going with a traditional, all-American gown, knee-length A-line dresses from Vanessa Fox are a perfect complement. When Fox, a former Mirabella fashion editor, was planning her 1999 wedding, she was shocked at the pickings and saw a business opportunity. "I constantly had friends saying the same old thing: 'Help! I want something simple but nice-quality,' " says Fox, who turned her Upper East Side dining room into her first showroom. "There's nothing worse than being in your best friend's wedding and feeling like a frump." Eight months later, her well-tailored dresses and separates colonized a quaint townhouse storefront around the corner, and her navy round-neck shell and ball skirt won the coveted viewers'-choice award on the Today show. This spring, seersucker and toile prints join the solid silks and satins. Each dress can be still be customized with her signature preppy edge: a grosgrain ribbon at the waist or the hem. $275-$400.
Vibrant color choices are the theme with Simple Silhouettes' stylish frocks. (We love the poppy and slate gingham fabrics.) Designer Christina Dalle Pezze learned to sew at 11, making her first A-line skirt at 12. Years later, while she was toiling on Wall Street, a friend came to her for help when she couldn't find her way around the bejeweled, chiffon choices on the market. Dalle Pezze set to work designing boat-necked cashmere and wool sheaths for the bridal party, and six months later Simple Silhouettes began. Her Empire-waist designs with bow bands or spaghetti ties flatter many different figures, and are especially friendly to thicker waists. The mix-and-match separates, which include cap-sleeve or spaghetti-strap shells and A-line, straight, or flared skirts, are excellent for girls who wear a size 8 top but a size 10 bottom and they're doubly wearable after the wedding. $250-$350.
Let's say you're the kind of bride who can't watch Gone With the Wind enough. When all the flowers and candles are in place and the music begins, a parade of simple cocktail dresses just won't do. BCBG Max Azria's off-the-rack formalwear is made for girls who'll be walking the aisle with groomsmen in tuxedos or dinner jackets. "Asymmetrical hems, corseting, and tops paired with skirts in satin or chiffon are trends for spring," says Azria. His black strapless A-line with full crinoline skirt will make all the girls feel like Grace Kelly; his blue one-shoulder silk-chiffon number, on the other hand, will make them feel like Jennifer Lopez. $200-$400.
BCBG, 770 Madison Ave., at 66th St., 212-717-4225; bcbg.com
Brides with a close eye on the runway and celebrity awards shows will want to check out A.B.S by Allen Schwartz, who's known for sketching facsimiles of red-carpet gowns in lightning speed. Whether it's the long-sleeved black dress with a strategically placed white flower that Jennifer Connelly wore to the Golden Globes or the fifties-style polka dots Sarah Jessica Parker donned at the Emmys, A.B.S will have a copy by 4 p.m. the next day. "It even amazes me sometimes," says Schwartz of his celebrity collection. "We're for brides and bridesmaids who are not afraid to be a little different. Traditional is not really at work here; classic with a twist is what we do." The floor-length halter neck from their so-called bridal-evening collection is also plenty glam. Their white eyelet dress with a tight-fitted waist and thin double straps is an elegant choice for a more casual affair. $250-$350.
From the 2002 New York Weddings Guide