It's actually can be more complicated than you'd think.

By Blythe Copeland
October 15, 2020
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Asking your bridesmaids to wear white dresses may have your traditional great-aunt raising her eyebrows as you ignore the "don't wear white to a wedding" guideline, but contemporary brides with a minimalist aesthetic love the look for the way it sets off the other décor choices throughout the day. White or ivory bridesmaids' dresses can also create a stunning contrast to a colorful bouquet and will even help your embroidered or beaded wedding dress pop. What's more, white gowns really do complement just about every skin tone, despite what you may have heard. "White and ivory tend to flatter more skin tones than traditional champagne, beige, or taupe," says Erin Casey Wolf of Bella Bridesmaids. "A lot of people get worried about being washed out, but really it's an easier color to wear." You just need to select the right shade of white for your group.

Choose white or ivory.

Before you start asking your bridesmaids to try on dresses, decide if you're looking for a genuine pure white gown, or if you're willing to choose a neutral shade with pink, yellow, or beige undertones. Your wedding dress should set the tone for your bridesmaids' attire, says Wolf. "If the bridal gown is true white, put the bridesmaids in a true white," she says. "If the bridal gown tends to be an ivory, or a cameo, or has a cappuccino underlay, the world is your oyster—ivory or white can work." If you do want a "true white," make sure your stylist knows you're not willing to adjust the shade. "Many designers do not offer a true white," says Wolf. "The bridal industry has really heavily shifted toward an ivory, so if you're looking for true pristine, clean white, go into your appointment and only look at designers that offer a true white. You don't want to fall in love with a dress that only comes in ivory if that's not what you're looking to do."

Consider the undertones.

If you and your bridesmaids prefer a gown that's slightly off-white, then you're considering fabrics with a variety of undertones—though that should be obvious from the color names. "Once the color gets much more yellow or much more blush in tone, designers name the color something different," says Wolf, using Dessy's "Cameo," which has pinkish undertones, as an example. "It reads almost as light as ivory, but has a very blush hue. Similarly, designers might call a color ecru—it's not true ivory, there's going to be a bit more of a taupe undertone."

Make sure the dresses match.

Though mix-and-match gowns in varying shades can create a subtle contrast that adds depth to a bridal party's look, brides who choose white or ivory for the minimalist color palette often prefer identical shades from the same dye lot. "When the dresses are white or ivory, we have been doing more in the same dress—or at the very least, the same designer, fabric, and color," says Wolf. "We do not frequently do bridal parties where the bride says, 'Any white or ivory dress,' because they can vary so greatly. We like to make sure the dye lot is exactly the same and the fabric and the color are exactly the same, because brides are drawn to it for a really clean aesthetic in their photographs."

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