Your Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Fabrics
If you’re having trouble deciding on your bridesmaid dress fabric, this post defines popular fabric choices and the best seasons to use them.
An often overlooked truth about planning a wedding is that you are responsible for making a number of fashion decisions. Not only will you choose what you would like to wear, but your family members will likely ask for your input, and your partner might want to hear your thoughts, too. Plus, your bridesmaids and groomsmen will look to you to either decide or guide them on what they should wear. Choosing an outfit for an entire group isn’t a simple decision, and a big factor in the decision for your wedding party style hinges on your choice of bridesmaid dress fabric.
Just like your wedding gown, there are bridesmaid’s dress silhouettes, colors, seasons, and fabrics to keep in mind. And there are a number of companies that can assist you in your shopping search. Today we thought we would offer a run-down of the most popular fabrics for bridesmaids’ dresses, when they work best, and how you can navigate the many (many) companies you and your best gals can order from.
Popular Bridesmaids Dress Fabric Options
Just like any other dress you would purchase for an event or for everyday wear, there are a ton of fabrics to consider. And many of them coordinate with different seasons. While you could go down a rabbit hole and learn about all of them, we thought we would detail the eight most popular to quicken your search.
If you’re imagining your bridesmaids wearing a dress made from a “flowy” fabric, you’re likely thinking of chiffon. This is one of the most popular fabrics for bridesmaids’ dresses because it works with a number of dress silhouettes, and it also creates a romantic, ethereal look as your ‘maids are walking down the aisle. Plus, it’s lighter and fairly breathable, which is important for warm weather weddings (more on that in a moment!).
If you’re planning to ask your bridesmaids to wear structured gowns, don’t miss out on crepe. This fabric tends to have a “crinkly” look to it (similar to paper), but it’s lighter weight than its satin counterpart. Because crepe gowns do have more structure, they look and feel much more preppy rather than romantic. That’s a win if that’s your goal!
Similar to chiffon, jersey also creates a romantic look and feel because it moves easily. But if you’re thinking your bridesmaids will look like they’re wearing a t-shirt down the aisle, think again! Dresses made from jersey are just as formal as others—and they have the added benefit of feeling very comfortable.
Lace is one of the most vintage fabrics, and it can offer a more formal feel in a pinch! The other fun thing about lace is if you change the fit and silhouette of a bridesmaid’s dress but keep the lace fabric, it can take on an entirely different feel. Think about using lace for vintage, formal, and garden soirees—really anything and everything can work!
If you’re planning a classic wedding, you will want to consider satin bridesmaids’ dresses. The fabric is slightly similar to silk in that it often has a sheen to it, but it’s also quite a bit heavier. Satin dresses offer more structures than their chiffon or jersey counterparts. But, because it’s heavier, it’s not the best choice for summer soirees.
Trends always come back around, and the ‘90s are back in a big way. That means silk gowns are trendy right now! Most often, silk has a very light and smooth texture to it, which makes it ideal for romantic weddings. Plus, it’s easy to dress up, so it works well for black-tie soirees. Keep in mind, however, that silk is one of the more expensive fabrics, so silk bridesmaids’ dresses tend to cost a bit more.
Tulle is absolutely not just for ballet or wedding gowns! Instead, it’s a popular choice for bridesmaids’ dresses too. Tulle drapes beautifully, and like other options on our list, it has a romantic look and feel. Plus, you can style it for any type of wedding style, whether you’re planning a black-tie celebration or rustic barn fete. It is important to note that everything sticks to tulle (i.e.: you can pick up bugs along the way!) It has a matte finish look in photos, so it’s great if you don’t want anything shiny.
Winter weddings are the perfect time for velvet! Not only does it look warm and romantic on bridesmaids’ dresses, but it also feels the same way, which is perfect when temperatures are colder. The thing to note about velvet is it’s heavier, so dresses not only look heavier but also feel that way. Plus, velvet dresses tend to be a bit more form-fitting, which is important to keep in mind if you’re hoping to achieve a more loose and flowy look.
When should each bridesmaid dress fabric be worn?
Even though wedding days are fun, they’re also long for everyone involved. And one of the worst things to experience on a wedding day is to feel too hot or too cold in your attire. To ensure your bridesmaids feel comfortable, here’s when each bridesmaid’s dress fabric should be worn.
If you’re looking for a year-round bridesmaid’s dress fabric, chiffon is the one! It’s fairly lightweight, and most chiffon dresses are lined too. That means it has the unique ability to keep bridesmaids feeling cool during the warmer months of spring and summer and warm enough during the cooler months in fall and winter (though they will definitely want to add a fun jacket or pashmina as temperatures drop).
If you’re planning a spring, early summer, or fall wedding day, crepe is great! As we mentioned above, this fabric is more structured, so it’s perfect to use to create a classic look. But because it’s not loose, it might not be your bridesmaids’ favorite fabric to wear on a hot summer day.
Jersey is light and airy, which is the type of fabric most of us want to wear during the summer! Your bridesmaids are sure to feel cool and comfortable, which means they will eagerly jump onto the dance floor once your reception is underway.
Depending on how the dress is constructed, lace can feel light or heavy. As a result, you can wear it at any point throughout the year. However, if it’s going to be worn by itself rather than teamed up with other fabrics, it might be best to leave it for spring and summer weddings.
If you’re planning a late fall or winter wedding, satin is a great choice. It’s similar to crepe in the classic and timeless silhouettes and dresses it’s used to create, but it’s considerably heavier. While a heavier dress might not be what you want to wear during the height of summer, it’s exactly what you need on a cold winter day.
Spring and fall weddings are made for silk! Like other fabrics, silk is fairly light to wear. But unlike other fabrics, silk does not play nice with sweat. As a result, have silk sit out of the running for summer bridesmaids’ dresses. But it’s perfect for other slightly cooler seasons!
Tulle and chiffon have similar weights and bridesmaid dress styles, so tulle is another option for year-round wear. We will admit, however, that it’s not quite the best choice for outdoor weddings because the fabric is a magnet for everything you touch or pass by. As we mentioned above, that includes bugs. If you’re hosting an indoor fete with outdoor photos, tulle is perfect no matter the season.
To keep things short and sweet about this cozy fabric, the best time to wear a velvet bridesmaid’s dress is in the winter or maybe fall, depending on the temperature where your event is taking place.
How can I see bridesmaids’ dress fabric swatches in person?
Absolutely! Most companies that specialize in bridesmaids’ dresses not only have swatches available for you to order (mostly for free), but they also encourage you to order them. It’s an important step to take because you can feel the fabric in person. Plus, you can also see the colors or patterns you think you like outside of a computer screen.
Companies that Offer Wedding Fabric Swatches
If you’re wondering where to go, here are seven companies we recommend for both bridesmaids’ dresses and fabric swatches for the big day:
3. Birdy Grey
While you’re browsing, you might come across more fabric options. And that’s okay! There’s plenty we didn’t cover here, such as dupioni, jacquard, charmeuse, georgette, taffeta, mikado, brocade, nylon, polyester, cotton, wool, and rayon. This guide is meant to share the most popular options so you can cut through the clutter.
Plus, it’s also worthwhile to note that sometimes companies can create bridesmaids’ dresses in a fabric other than what’s listed on their site. If you fall in love with a silhouette, but you don’t love the fabric noted, it’s worth asking if there are other options.
Which bridesmaid’s dress fabric are you thinking about using for your wedding day? How did you make your decision? We’re more than happy to keep chatting in our community!