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Bridesmaids who are full figured face some special challenges when shopping for a dress. What flatters their smaller bridal party sisters may not work on a more fleshed-out form. Fortunately, these days, there are more choices on the rack at bridal stores in the plus size ranges, but it still helps to have some expert advice on what to look for that will not just fit but also flatter your assets.
The A-line silhouette flatters fuller figures like almost nothing else. It's shaped but not too clingy and looks truly timeless. For some plus-size women, an empire waist dress also looks lovely, but for others, it will just prompt those horrible "when are you due?" questions, so tread carefully. For full-figure gals blessed on the bust side, a fitted or corset top and a full skirt will draw the eye to the face and, yes, cleavage-enhanced chest.
A Sensitive Subject: Sleeves
Let's be blunt. A lot of full-figured women think of their upper arms as a problem area and may be shy about showing them. Also, women with a bigger bust need a bigger bra with wider straps -- and they also need a dress that can cover those straps. A dress with sleeves, then, is the most versatile option for most full-figured women (although we encourage them to wear any style they like with pride -- and you bet that includes sleeveless and strapless gowns).
Pastels are not the most flattering palette for many full-figured women. Plus, for a wedding, they're so predictable as to be boring. So look to deeper hues, such as wine red, chocolate, plum and royal blue for your color theme. Your bridesmaids will thank you -- and look sharper, too.
Outside the Box
Remember that a dress doesn't have to come from a bridal shop to work as a bridesmaid's outfit. Check out prom shops and anywhere else that sells cocktail or formal dresses. Extra bonus: bridesmaids end up with a dress that they can definitely wear to more than one occasion.
Some Final Advice on Mismatched Bridesmaids
Brides to be, if you're on the fence about non-matching bridesmaids dresses, take this tip from designer Michael Shettel: "Select a color or theme and let the bridesmaids find a style that makes them look and feel great. This is a great expression of individuality, personal style and makes for a more interesting bridal party." Feel free to specify a hem length, too, such as cocktail or full, but otherwise, let your friends take the reins.