Bridesmaid Shoes – Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Start a conversation with any woman about shoes and you will quickly see a sparkle in her eye. Shoes can singlehandedly change the look of your outfit from quirky to classy, seductive to sassy, casual to elegant. Hard to believe but, it’s true – diamond’s may be a girls’ best friend but, shoes are a close second and they are most definitely the window to  her soul. For many years bridesmaids were asked to take a swatch from the bridesmaid gown  to the store where they would buy a pair of (probably not very cute or comfortable) dye-able shoes, the shoes were supposed to match the gown exactly and believe me… when they were a bit off, the bride would have a fit. Seriously… a fit!  No matter how great the dress was, the bridesmaids would inevitable roll their eyes when the discussion turned to the bridesmaid shoe. Times have changed and now the shoe takes center stage as the single most important accessory for bridesmaids.

How to find the perfect bridesmaid shoe:

Just as you would take the ladies to a salon to try on bridesmaid gowns and find the one dress they all feel or look good wearing, you should do the same with shoes. This is easier than you think since so many salons carry shoes, plus if you are already together, it would make sense to stop by a shoe store, wedding accessory store or your favorite department store as a group and see who can walk in the shoes you all agree look best. There will be some compromising and just as with the bridesmaid dress, you have to have a good idea of what you want before you walk into the store.

Do not get distracted by questions like “Can I wear these again”. That is not the point.  The point is if they will be wearable for this one day, this one event, this one moment in time where they will be photographed endlessly and talked about for eternity.

Be creative with your shoe choices. The current theme is eclectic when it comes to bridesmaid shoes. Think about the brides who choose to have the bridesmaid shoes match their bouquet, the shoes that match another color in the wedding the shoes that are a bright contrasting color but all match one another. Do not have each girl pick a different color shoe of the same style. It might sound adorable  but, the photos do not lie and it winds up looking like everyone got a sidetracked  at a rainbow shoe sale. 

No cork heels. Even of the shoe is sparkly and sassy and expensive. There may be some exceptions like a garden wedding with flirty floral bridesmaid gowns or a beach affair with  a strappy sundress. However, if you have any doubts that a cork heel is too casual – don’t do it. Instead, try a wedge heel which can transition from casual to dressy depending upon the material of the shoe and the style.

Consider making the shoes  their wedding gift. This will ease the pain of having to buy a pair of shoes they may not wear ever again. Instead of begrudgingly having to spring for a pair of pink stilettos, they will be happy to have an extra pair of ‘friends’ in their closet, even ones that they might only wear once a year.

Stay away from strappy shoes. Shoes with thin straps, even if they are made of good quality leather, will definitely hurt by the end of the ceremony and most likely cause blisters by the end of the night. The best solution is to find a less ‘strappy’ version of a similar shoe…. or remember to bring a ton of band-aids, you will need them.

Don’t let the price fool you. More expensive shoes are made of higher quality materials, they have designer labels and are packaged, handled, marketed and sold more exclusively. However, a $800 pair of bridesmaid shoes can still hurt your feet. If you ask your bridesmaids to buy expensive shoes, be extra careful to ensure they are comfortable for everyone. 

Study your shoe designers and the way they fit before you set your heart on something to avoid being disappointed. Stuart Weitzman shoes are much narrower, Manolo Blahnik have shorter vamp, and the list goes on. FYI – toe overhang is the eighth deadly sin.

If you spend a little time doing research, listen to the bridesmaids concerns and stay within your budget, the shoes you help select will be a fashion statement, a great photo op, a conversation point and the perfect accessory for your entire bridal party.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Beautiful Bridesmaids – Finding a Dress That Fits

Everyone who has ever been a bridesmaid knows two things about bridesmaid dresses; you hardly ever wear them again and they run small.

For the average size 10 woman, she will need to purchase a size 12 or maybe 14 bridesmaid gown. The rule is that you always fit the biggest body measurement since the gown can be taken in everywhere and rarely let out anywhere. But, when your best friend in the world  is a size 24, what do you do? As the size 24 bridesmaid do you  tell the bride you are uncomfortable wearing the dress she picked? Is it fair to ask the largest woman, who is probably the least secure about her physical appearance to wear the same dress as everyone else? Do you ask her to lose weight?  Do you find a similar gown for her to wear? Trust me, I have seen every angle of this debate and it never changes, and  it is near impossible to make everyone happy with your choice. So what do you do if you love your friend and you really want her to look  and feel  her best? The first step is to have an open conversation about the topic. She will be so relieved that you are sensitive about this topic that you may have to pick her up off the floor!

Different gowns –Offering the bridesmaids gown choices of the same color and different styles dates back over two decades. It works beautifully then and it is still by far the best option for bridesmaids of all sizes. Here is how it works: each bridesmaid has  a different style of gown but in  the exact same  color and length. If you can find the same fabric, that’s even better – but don’t let this tiny detail deter you when selecting the dress.

Custom gown– If the bridesmaid gown you have chosen does not come in larger sizes, many bridal salons  have the capability to make a custom gown of the exact same style and fabric for a larger bridesmaid. Same fabric, same style, same everything. The upside is that the gown will almost always be exactly the same as the others, the downside is that it will probably double the price. Other factors are that  (as the bridesmaid) you will not know how you look in the gown until it is in production and all sales are final. Sometimes this is the absolute best option and everyone is ecstatic with the outcome.

No matter which option you choose as a bride or bridesmaid, consider these tips:

Fit – Most women do not want to be squeezed into a dress like a tube of toothpaste regardless of their size but it is especially important if you have an ample figure. Leave a little wiggle room by ordering the larger size and you won’t regret it.

Style: Find a gown that has an empire waist, fuller skirt or other components that are not too restricting.  Plunging necklines can sometimes bring the eye away from trouble areas and enhance the face but, remember that a bigger bustline  has disadvantages, too. Make sure everyone is comfortable with how much cleavage is exposed as this could be a personal catastrophe if there is not enough coverage. Absolutely avoid strapless.

Fabric – Avoid super-shiny satin and stiff taffeta. Find fabrics that move like chiffon, crepe and charmeuse. After you sit down in a tight satin dress you will stand up to a wrinkled mess.

Undergarments– Girdles are a thing of the past!  However, Spanx and other similar undergarments can provide not only some help smoothing out trouble areas but also help the dress fit better. If your bustline is the bigger problem, make sure you get a suitable bra that offers comfort as well as support. Better yet – find a one piece bodysuit that has the bra built in! Comfort and support are the key elements. The right undergarments will vastly improve the way you look and feel in your bridesmaid gown.

 Designers finally figured out that beautiful bridesmaids come in all sizes and offer gorgeous gowns in every shape, size and price range. You don’t have to break the bank and you don’t have to settle for anything less than fabulous!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Bridesmaids Beware: Tips to being a perfect attendant

We’ve all heard the horror stories and seen countless clips of brides going berserk on TV. Bridezillas (as they have become known) are a ruthless, tireless breed and will not take (hell) no for an answer.  What you don’t see or hear as often are stories of bridesmaids and attendants who don’t live up to their end of the bargain. They hold up orders, complain about dresses, shoes, and generally complicate things. Whats the key to being a  perfect attendant? I’m glad you asked!

Play or go home. If you have agreed to be a part of a wedding, understand it is going to cost you money. Unless the bride has graciously offered to pay for everything on your behalf you will be paying for at least a gown, alterations, shoes, jewelry, makeup, hair, bachelorette festivities, shower and shower gift, and wedding gift. Don’t forget you will need something to wear for the shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner as well. More shoes, more accessories, and the list goes on. If you know you cannot afford the festivities, be honest with the bride,  “I am honored that you asked me to be your bridesmaid and although I would love to be included in the wedding, I simply cannot afford it. I would be honored to be a guest” Otherwise you might be broke and resentful by the time the cake is cut. Once you have agreed to be an attendant, you are no longer entitled to say anything about your expenses. Keep your lips sealed and smile.

Be available. When you agreed to be a bridesmaid you had to know there would be shopping and fittings and all kinds of other pre-wedding activities. Your job is to make this easier for the bride, not harder. If you cannot attend something, being honest is better than being a no-show. With texting, instant messaging and facebook it is easier to stay in touch than ever. Missing an appointment is a cardinal sin and there  is no reason other than bodily harm that you should not be at a scheduled appointment.

Be honest. If asked your opinion, be honest. When it comes to bridal gowns, headpieces, bridesmaid gowns, cakes, whatever. You can have different opinions and still be friends. Remember that there are ways to deliver unkind words. “You butt looks huge in that gown” is not a good example. You might want to try something softer ” Cindy, you have a great figure but, I dont think this dress is very flattering.” However, if you realize this is the gown (or whatever) that she loves and adores, try to find something positive to say. You have signed on to be a support team, its time to be supportive. If asked for your honest opinion, give it as graciously as possible.

Run intereference. Bridesmaids have a lot less to do than the bride during the months and weeks leading up to the big day. You will be a great friend and a perfect bridesmaid by offering to run some errands, or help the bride simplify tasks somehow. This will be the greatest gift she receives, helping her to  handle any and all wedding tasks so the she remains stress free.

I saved the best advice for last: How to handle bridesmaid gown shopping. If the bride offers to take you and all of the attendants to try on dresses, this can be a lot of fun. It can also be the mother of all disasters. Approach it with kindness and fairness. Whether you are a size 2 or 22, remember its not about you: the bride has vision of what she wants the entire day to look like. Remember the scene in 27 dresses when Katherine Heigl goes through the closet and tries on each gown? Hilarious!!! But each of her friends had a vision and she was the perfect attendant by smiling, wearing the dress and not saying one word.  Help your engaged friend to realize her own unique vision by being as cooperative as possible. The only complaints that should be voiced are of the dress is  ill-fitting,  painful (poorly constructed gowns sometimes have cheaper components which can actually hurt and leave marks) or if there is something about that dress that makes you seriously uncomfortable. For instance, if you are quite busty and the gown has little coverage which leaves you a victim of side-boob exposure. Most brides are not stuck in the ‘same gown for everyone’ mold, anyway. Today’s wedding trend is to find a different gown that looks good on each attendant in the same color or one gown in several colors. There are so many choices… talk to the bride in private and explain your concerns, don’t turn it into a free-for-all or let any resentment build up. She does not want frowns, red marks or nipples in her wedding photos so if approached properly, any problem can be rectified. The same goes with shoes. If they are ugly – wear them and donate them after. If they seriously hurt your feet, explain to the bride why you cannot wear them. Offer to find a similar pair that are more comfortable for you and work it out. Unless she is truly that one in a million BRIDEZILLA,  she will be happy you spoke to her instead of complaining behind her back.

-ps – a great way to show your engaged pal that you are definitely in her corner is to offer to attend a bridal expo with her. Bridal Expo Chicago has 32 shows in 2011 and one of them is near you. With dozens and dozens of vendors and our luxurious runway fashion show you will have the time of your life. Call 847-428-3320 to get four complimentary tickets to a show in your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago