Photograph by Ashley Upchurch Photography, courtesy of Elle James Bridal.
If last summer’s royal wedding taught us anything, it’s that there are few things more captivating than a well-dressed wedding party. An opportunity to wear the dress of one’s dreams never fails to translate into a truly memorable fashion moment, and bridesmaids’ attire is becoming more attention-grabbing of late too, as brides are taking an increasingly creative approach to dress selection. To give us a preview of the outfits we’ll be seeing make their way down the aisle this year, we asked a few experts to share the trends they anticipate being big in 2019. From Meghan Markle-inspired simple silhouettes to more statement-making styles, here are their predictions.
Bows are having a major moment. These classic adornments are showing up in every iteration imaginable, from “larger-than-life bows that act as trains, sweet loops that make the prettiest straps, and metal versions that tie entire looks together,” Kelly Hill, owner of Cincy Bridal in Cincinnati, Ohio, shared. No longer relegated to waist-defining adornment, bows have the ability to make a simple gown look couture, and couture gowns seem demure. “The bow brings an elevated feminine vibe that brides are loving,” Kiristin Panetta, owner of Elle James Bridal in Jackson, Mississippi, adds.
Clean lines make a comeback. There was a definite return of clean lines and fabrics after Meghan Markle took a trip down the aisle in her stunning simple gown, says Lindsay Fork of Columbus, Ohio’s La Jeune Mariee. This season, most designers are adding iterations of simple, clean gowns to their collections, which are showing up in fitted, A-line and ballgown styles in a variety of luscious white fabrics. “You will often see this trend and the bow trend paired together to create a classic, yet modern look, Kristin Panetta of Elle James Bridal reports.
Separates and one-piece take center stage. Bridal separates and bold one-piece styles, which have been increasing in popularity over the past few years, are even more mainstream this season. For the bride who is comfortable departing from tradition, Kelly Hill of Cincy Bridal reports that these styles were standouts on the runway. From lacey short and sequined ensembles by Berta, to a glitter-encrusted, lace jumpsuit at Atelier Pronovias, these pieces allow brides the freedom to mix and match tops, bottoms, and layers to create a look that’s uniquely their own.
Veils are bringing the drama. According to Lindsay Fork at La Jeune Mariee, the floor veil, at 90 inches, is currently the hottest length—though the drama of chapel (108 inches) and cathedral (120 inches) veils are gaining in popularity for more formal weddings. Paired with a simple silhouette, longer veils steal the show without overpowering the dress.
A return of bold geometric patterns. A big trend to hit the runways this season was a return of brazen, 80s-inspired geometric looks. “This look has translated to bridal for the more modern bride who wants to step outside the box,” Kelly Hill of Cincy Bridal reports. Many designers, like Nicole Spose, have played around with texture and pattern that are a departure from traditional lace. Whether in a unique neckline, bold cut-out, or intricate beaded overlay, these mod looks are ushering out femme layers of tulle and chiffon.
Brides are taking the plunge. The modern bride is loving the show-stopping focal point of a deep plunging neckline. “Whether it’s a soft, romantic-style gown, or a clean, modern vibe, brides are able to add a sexy yet fashion-forward feel to their wedding day look with this neckline,” says Kristin Panetta of Elle James Bridal.
Quick change act. Capes and overskirts have been gaining momentum over the last few years, leaving the realm of the avant garde for the more widely accepted. “These pieces are a well-thought-out addition to a fitted gown,” Lindsay Fork of La Jeune Mariee says. “High-fashion meets high-function in this trend, so brides may have two looks in one gown.” As added bonus, if a bride isn’t into a veil, a full-length bridal cape or even a shorter capelet is a great alternative. After the formal ceremony it’s easy to remove the piece before hitting the dance floor.
Pastels and jewel-toned accents. The assumption that brides should don virginal white is long over. Whether they’re looking to make a statement or simply seeking a shift from the norm, brides are clamoring for non-white styles, and designers are following suit, with all shades and hints of color appearing on every runway. Pastels like powder blue, lavender, and pale green were seen sashaying down the runways, and deeper, more vibrant hues adorned embroideries and showed up on ombré skirts. Kelly Hill of Cincy Bridal cites the bold looks and gorgeous lace colors of Chantel Lauren and Catherine Kowalski as lovely examples.
Photo courtesy of Gilded Social. Photographed by Ashley D Photography for Oh the Heart.
Crepe is the “it” fabric. Just as cuts and styles change, so do fabrics. Both Lindsey Stavely, owner of Tesori Bridal in Northwest Arkansas, and Tanya Hartman, owner of Gilded Social in Columbus, Ohio, have seen the fabric take off. Hartman says part of the allure is that it doesn’t have the “bridesmaid-ey” look that chiffon or tulle do, while Stavely notes that it’s a good in-between fabric, having the same flow as chiffon, but not the formality of satin.
Peacock hues spread their wings. The captivating colors on the bird’s majestic feathers—dark teal; bright, French and royal blues; hunter green; and deep purple—are replacing jewel tones this season. According to Tanya Hartman at Gilded Social, these deep, cool color tones are showing up both in bridesmaid dresses and in the bouquets they carry.
Reimagined tulle. This fabric has long been the sweetheart of bridesmaid dresses, but rather than retiring the look, designers are reinventing it. “To keep tulle from looking frumpy and young, we’re seeing it in a deep V, two-tones, and double-banded waists as an elongated and thinner look as opposed to huge and frilly,” Tanya Hartman of Gilded Social says. Because tulle is a more affordable fabric, gorgeous innovative styles are always coming in at a lower price point, which is fueling its resurgence.
Mix-and-match ensembles. Increasingly, brides are giving their wedding attendants more and more say in terms of selecting what they wear down the aisle. Morgan O’Brien, owner of Greenville, South Carolina’s Bella Bridesmaids reports that brides frequently designate a color they want to see represented for their wedding—blushes, light blues, light grey, and lilac are popular—and allow their bridesmaids to pick a style they want to wear within a single designer. Alternatively, brides will opt for variations on their chosen hue, resulting in a beautiful ombré gradient that’s appealing to the eye.
The romance of ruffles. Once relegated to little girls’ clothes, ruffles have had a resurgence in bridal, especially in crepe styles. “Really, these three-dimensional details are the darlings of designers,” Tanya Hartman of Gilded Social says. “They’re showing up on chiffon, sequins, and satin.” Popular iterations are femme details on sleeves, across the body, on the back, and down a leg slit.
Borrowing from bridal trends. There are three big bridal looks this season that are appearing on bridesmaids’ styles, according to Lindsey Stavely, owner of Tesori Bridal—Meghan Markle-inspired sleek and modern silhouettes, which lend a certain level of chic, deep v-neck styles, and the pantsuit.