Bridesmaid Style Guide
There are wedding divas who still want their dressy weddings to show a certain amount of restraint. Victoria Hadden and Lisa Kenny of Serafina, a made-to-order bridesmaids' dress label, have them covered. High-end fabrics from Indian Duppioni and rice-paper-thin chiffon are their specialties. The racks in their garment-district showroom are like boxes of pencils in every grade of every color imaginable. Clients can customize any dress with piping or ribbon, even switch the straps. Classic strapless gowns, either in iridescent silk taffetas or with embroidery, are a perennial. This season, halter dresses are big, as is "the whole Moulin Rouge thing," Hadden notes, which at Serafina translates into a duchess-satin corset top with a flared mermaid skirt to match. $250-$450.
Bridesmaids will never complain about not being able to re-wear dresses from Thread, as its designs are a lot like what the fashion-forward would want in their closets anyway. Possibly because, as co-founder Beth Blake says, "we're the most un-bridesmaidy girls you'll ever meet." Blake, a former market editor at Vogue, and friend and Parsons grad Sophie Simmons started Thread after Blake surprise! couldn't find a decent dress for her sister's wedding. Because they're not personally obsessed with all things bridal Beth had only three bridesmaids at her own wedding (wearing ivory cashmere cowl-neck dresses she designed), and Sophie would rather get married in a field with ten guests they believe they can help their clients have fun with the process and not take it too seriously: "We're not very formal. If people come in the door and say, 'I'm having a black-tie wedding at the Plaza,' that's not really us." A wedding in the Hamptons, Napa, or Nantucket, however that's a different story. New this season are subtle floral prints. Ever-popular red is being ordered for spring as well as fall. Their twenties-style georgette dress with a buttery silk-charmeuse side sash is a favorite, as is their strapless knee-length silk organza, which doesn't cling to hips. For fall, look for fifties full skirts à la Dolce Vita. $260-$400.
As much as some brides want to micromanage their big day down to the last rose petal, a burgeoning trend in the wedding world is for brides to let their bridesmaids have more of a say in what they'll wear. Often those are the more understated brides, who see no point in swathing their friends in yards upon yards of silk organza. Nanette Lepore's girly frocks have a devoted following among downtown party girls and can do double duty as special-occasion garb long after the wedding. "The shapes aren't so intimidating," says Lepore, whose spring collections are often wedding-friendly. "They look more retro to us than wedding. I'd say they have more of a pretty vintage look to them." We love the embroidered silk-shantung patterns. Pair them with a matching ruffle-trimmed cardigan to cover shoulders for a religious ceremony or a chilly spring night. $150-$350.
Nanette Lepore, 423 Broome St., 212-219-8265; nanettelepore.com
If Nicole Miller is the queen of the black cocktail dress, then bridesmaid fashion is her subspecialty. "I don't like bridesmaids to be too bridesmaidy," she notes, "just simple and elegant." At a recent trunk show, Miller met six different brides planning destination weddings at resorts. They needed something more casual in both cut and fabric for their bridesmaids. "There was so much satin. Satin, satin, satin!" she says. "It still sells well, but silk satin really wrinkles." Lucky for them, Miller has come up with some less formal but still elegant options. We love a floral bias-cut silk dress that's clingy in all the right places, perfect for beach bridesmaids or even beach brides. $275-$300.
Nicole Miller, 780 Madison Ave., 212-288-9779; 134 Prince St., 212-343-1362 ; nicolemiller.com
From the 2002 New York Weddings Guide