Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Perfect Modest Bridesmaid Dress: Ideas for modest and long-sleeve

If I had to choose one wedding item where I lost the most sleep, it would have to be finding the perfect bridesmaid dresses for my bridesmaids.  I wanted something modest and classic with a slight edge, something my bridesmaids could wear again as an evening dress...and I wanted the price to be inexpensive.  Such criteria was nearly impossible to find, and I went down a few paths before making the final choice.  If you are also struggling to find modest bridesmaids gowns that are inexpensive yet fashionable, check out these options:
  • Dressy Undershirt:  This is the most flexible option and possibly the least costly to transform a not-so-modest bridesmaid dress into a modest one.  But it only works if the fabric of the dressy undershirt is sleek enough to blend in with the bridesmaid dress and serve as long-sleeves:
    • Kiki Riki (~$17):  The "Kiki Riki" is a  brand that has become widely known among the Orthodox Jewish world as the undershirt of choice for making a dress more modest.  The 80% cotton / 10% spandex fabric blend along with being only ~$17 / shirt makes this a popular option for transforming practically any non-modest bridesmaid dress into the perfect one.  The catch is trying to track down stores that sell Kiki Riki's, which mainly seem to be in the heart of Orthodox communities or sold online by small businesses.  

    • Designer Loft (~$100):  Designer Loft sells a satin shirt that would be worn underneath the dress to provide coverage of chest and arms (comes in black, white, and tan).  Just ask them about it.
  • Customized Chinese Gowns:  As I noted in a previous blog, customized Chinese gowns offer a wide variety of long-sleeve gowns along with an exotic flair.  Just be careful about the slits on the side of the dress which may require added stitching.
    • Good Orient:  Good Orient's website offers up some fun Chinese gowns that have sleeves.  On the one hand, traditional Chinese gowns can allow for a little mystery that ensures some modesty in the cut and style of the gown.  On the other hand, the mystery can also be risque with the long slits down the side of the legs.  So, keep in mind that the slits should be sown up to keep it modest.  Should you choose this exotic option for bridesmaid dresses, I recommend ordering one dress as a test before ordering several of them to ensure your satisfaction.  Below is a silk cheongsam with mandarin collar and medium sleeves that can be customized by size, color and material, and only costs a mere $94.74.  
    • Matching Jacket, Bolero or Blazer: I found these examples on Dillard's website:

    • Department Store Websites:  Dillard's, Macy's, Bloomingdale's; or try TJ Formal
      • Search under" Mother-of-the-Bride" dresses:  Not all Mother-of-the-Bride dresses are matronly, and you may even find "Bridesmaid" dresses at these department stores with longsleeves.  
    Left:  "JS Collections Lace & Crepe Gown" ($220); Right:  "Landa Modest Bridesmaid Dress A008" ($158)
    • The Wrap:   This may not be realistic for dancing unless it is pinned down properly. However, it a great as a last minute solution for brides pressed with time.  Below is an example of how wrapping material around your shoulders and arms and tying loosely in the back can transform a dress into a modest and romantic look for your bridesmaids.  

    • Customized Modest Gown:  Find a fabric store or designer and choose a color / fabric and dress style for your bridesmaids to have tailored.  While this can be costly, there is room for negotiating a set price per dress if you have several bridesmaids.  I ended up choosing a reputable designer in Staten Island known for designing Orthodox Jewish modest bridesmaids gowns and paid $163 / dress.  When I saw a strappy dress that I liked in her store and imagined a more modest version of it, the designer was flexible and said she could use a similar design as the strappy dress and add sleeves. 

    Questions on choosing your bridesmaid dress?  Feel free to email me.