The perfect bridesmaids’ dresses are usually tough to nail down. You’ve got a group of people with differing personalities and styles, and you have to cater to all of them, while still going for a style you like personally.
These days, pretty much anything goes for the bridesmaids’ dresses. Over the years, the styles have evolved a lot. Many suggest that the idea of a bridal party stems from Ancient Roman times when 10 witnesses were needed to make a marriage legal. As you may imagine, the “bridesmaids” in Ancient Rome probably were dressed much differently to bridesmaids of today.
According to Elle, in the 15th century, the bridal party would dress exactly like the bride and groom. The purpose of this was to confuse evil spirits about who the newlyweds really were, thus protecting the couple and their marriage. This means that the bridesmaids would all dress the same as the bride.
Later on, in the 17th-century bridesmaids were dressed according to their age. Those in their teens would wear green, those in their 20s would wear brown, and older bridesmaids would be dressed in black.
In the 20th century, the attire for bridesmaids went through multiple changes, according to Canadian Living. From 1901 to 1910, bridesmaids wore dresses with long sleeves, high necklines, full skirts, and also wore plumed hats.
Thereafter, in the 1930s and 1940s during World War II, a more simple style was preferred. The simple design was brought on as a way to save money since it required less material. The 50s and 60s brought a more experimental feeling with it, giving bridesmaids hoop skirts, cocktail looks, and colours galore.
From the 70s to the 90s, the identical bridesmaid trend set in. Every bridesmaid wore a dress of the same colour and style and the dresses were often made using unflattering subjects. Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay’s Jessica Mulrony told Canadian Living that bridesmaids dresses during this time were purposefully made unflattering.
“I think it was always such a big fear that the bride should never be upstaged by her bridesmaids,” says Mulroney, “so everything had to be very plain and in a million different colours.”
Luckily for bridesmaids across the world, things have changed since then. Today, we don’t stick to a one size fits all idea, nor do we want our bridesmaids to look unappealing. Styles vary quite widely these days. Instead of one defining trend, brides and their bridesmaids incorporate different colours, patterns, and styles to fit their preferences best.