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My only sister Jodie (or Piggle, as Baba insists on calling her for no particular reason!) is getting married in December. I’m really excited to be her maid of honour as I haven’t been a bridesmaid since I was 5 years old. On that occasion I wore a 1970’s tastic blue satin dress and my hair in ringlets. But being a bridesmaid can lead to all sorts of nightmares. Anyone who has watched the fab Katherine Heigl in ‘27 dresses‘ will know that, in the not too distant past, bridesmaids had to manoeuvre their way through the minefield that was the meringue dress. Acres and Acres of peach ghastliness, with off the shoulder frills, crinoline skirts, bows, heart,ribbons in each horrendous pastel shade known to man. It was enough to strike fear into the most fearless, loyal bridesmaid and force them to run a mile. And it happened to the best of us. Look at the super stylish India Hicks in her ivory oversized creation as Bridesmaid to Lady Diana Spencer, soon to be the super style icon, The Princess of Wales.
But, it’s not going to happen to me. Rather than some oversized, overfrilled, pastel pudding, I have an amazingly simple, supremely stylish BLACK Coast evening dress. My fellow bridesmaids are wearing the same dress, but in the shorter cocktail dress version. I have a simple headband, and the most amazing black heels which I will delight in wearing all through the festive season this year. In short, I have an outfit to treasure. And it’s in black. Which got me thinking, when did it become acceptable for Bridesmaids to wear black?
A sneak preview of the fantastic shoes!
I started to think Sex and the City could be at fault. I clearly remembered the episode entitled ‘The Turtle and the Hare’. where the girls were guests at a wedding and each wore a black dress. Before then, I could only remember black being used at funerals, never at weddings. Another episode featured Charlotte in a full length black halter neck bridesmaid dress. However, this is later referred to as a ‘slutty’ dress. Flash forward a few years and the ‘It’ girl and friend of Kate Moss Davina Murphy had her bridesmaids in black dresses at her wedding to Football agent Dave Gardner. One of the bridesmaids was Jenny Frost, so the wedding achieved quite a bit of press coverage, especially as the stylish Victoria Beckham was one of the guests. The guests were asked to wear black and white, something the ever stylish, but attention seeking Mrs Beckham ignored.
Now there seems to be an ever-growing number of black and white weddings. Many brides are opting for black and white dresses a la Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy in ‘Sabrina‘. The obvious way to get the symmetry right at a black and white wedding is that if the bride is wearing white, the bridesmaids must be in the black.
But why have black dresses not only become acceptable bridesmaids attire, but also positively in vogue? It could be that more women are opting to get married later, and are having their grown up friends and relatives as bridesmaids rather than young flower girls. Grown women look more sophisticated in cocktail dresses and evening gowns in black, rather than more colourful, fussy efforts. In addition, black is ultra flattering, every women owns a little black dress they use for special occasions, and they usually opt for black because it masks all the lumps and bumps that women have. We feel comfortable in black because it hides our imperfections and makes us feel glamorous, something that pastel pink can never do. Bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, all heights and ages, and black seems to suit all. My fellow bridesmaids, Sam and Terrianne are different shapes to me, Sam is average height, but slim, Terrianne is shorter and curvy. Black looks good on all three of us, and we all feel comfortable in the dresses.
There is also an element of the High Street coming into the equation. Once upon a time, all Bridesmaids dresses were purchased from a Bridal shop, or were handmade/homemade creations. But with the recession, and the rise of Quality High street stores like Monsoon and Coast selling beautiful, good quality evening and cocktail dresses, more Brides are opting to buy their bridesmaid dresses ‘off the peg’. You can avoid all the fittings that busy women have no time for, whilst choosing a dress that your grateful bridesmaid can wear for years to come. In addition these dresses tend to be simple, stylish and tasteful, rather the milkmaid/Little Bo Peep creations of yore.
I think the final reason that black has become the bridesmaid dress colour de jour is that white has become newly fashionable for the bride. A few years ago, many modern women felt they should opt for Ivory, or cream rather than traditional white because they were already living with their partners before the wedding. The tide seems to have turned now, and many modern women are once again opting for white as their wedding colour of choice. And what goes better with white than black? Look at the amazing Cecil Beaton creations for the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. Look at the stunning Audrey Hepburn Givenchy dress for Sabrina, or Julia Roberts collecting her Oscar in vintage Valentino. These were all black and white creations and looked totally stunning.
When I look back at some of the weddings I have attended over the years, I often find myself giggling over the crazy frocks some bridesmaids have been made to endure in the name of friendship. I think I can safely predict that my stylish BLACK evening dress will not elicit the same roars of laughter in years to come. Hallelujah to that!
Some Coast dresses for grown up Bridesmaids to consider.
Coast Chanelle dress is gorgeous and simple.
The Savannah dress is perfect for a Va Va Voom Bridesmaid
Coast Chloe Cocktail dress is great for grown up bridesmaids.