Bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, and the good news is now their dresses now do, too.
Here are three foolproof ways to ensure that your party will look its best while still appearing chic and unified.
One color, different silhouettes
Keep all your bridesmaids happy by letting them choose their own dress styles. Dress designers have made it easy for brides to let their maids do the shopping and find styles that will show off their best assets. A busty maid can wear a V-neck that de-emphasizes her chest, while a boyish-bodied bridesmaid can enhance her curves by choosing a style with an empire waist. Or just change small elements, like adding a matching sash or stole. The options are endless. Just give the girls a swatch of fabric in your color of choice, send them all to the same designer, and be sure they order at the same time so you know their dresses will all be from the same dye lot. And don't be afraid to really go for it colorwise. Pastels pale in comparison to some of this season's hottest hues, such as spicy browns, emeralds, sapphires and plums.
One silhouette, different fabrics
So you've fallen in love with a dress, but you know not everyone will love wearing a bright, bold plaid. There's no need to leave that gown behind. As luck would have it, many designers are coming up with original and very fashionable patterns, colors and fabrics for every type of maid. Keep it coordinated by choosing colors that work well together. If you end up picking a pattern, just use some colors from the pattern as your solid-color dress options. The hottest trend in bridesmaids' dresses this year is tea-length, or just-below-the-knee, hemlines. With these fun, feminine and flirty dresses, fabric, not length, determines formality. An added benefit? These less "bridesmaidy" dresses can be worn again and again.
One dress, different accessories
If you love the traditional look of the same dress style and color for your whole wedding party, there are other ways to modernize this clean and classic look. Use accessories (jewelry, shoes and purses) to keep the party unified, and tie everything together with coordinating, not matching, bouquets.
Accessories can also double as a great gift from you to your girls. They've already splurged on the dress and attended some major parties in your honor. Show them just how much you appreciate them with earrings or a new clutch. Or try personalizing the bridesmaids' bouquets by picking flowers with meaning. Choose hydrangeas, which symbolize devotion (perfect for your always supportive maid) or classic cream roses for a maid born in June.