Bari Jay has outfitted bridesmaids in stylish gowns for over 30 years. As the current head designer, what is your design philosophy?
I want to create beautiful gowns that a woman will feel confident and sexy in—no matter the occasion. I look to the eveningwear market for inspiration, and incorporate a sophisticated couture cut so that she can wear her gown again and again. For spring 2009, I’m using rich colors, like deep rose and dusty lilac, in chiffon, charmeuse and satin. I love gowns that drape softly over a woman’s body; they’re classic and flattering to her figure. Some brides are even ordering Bari Jay dresses in ivory and wearing them as wedding gowns, which works particularly well for outdoor and destination weddings. It’s exciting for me as a designer to know a bride can find the dress of her dreams for a fraction of the cost.
What styles of bridesmaid dresses can most easily double as “wear again” options?
A flirty tea-length style works well because women are obviously more apt to rewear a shorter dress to a cocktail party or an elegant dinner. If the bride has her heart set on long gowns for her bridesmaids, they can have them altered after the wedding into a style they are likelier to wear again. It’s worth the small price to prevent the dress from ending up in the back of the closet. Another idea is to choose a gown with a detachable skirt—it can be worn long for a formal ceremony and short for the reception and future events.
From left: One-shoulder pleated chiffon gown with beaded neckline, about $258. Strapless pleated chiffon gown with empire bodice and sweetheart neckline, about $238. Satin strapless gown with detachable over-skirt (not shown), about $178. All gowns by Bari Jay; barijay.com.
Can you weigh in on the debate over who—the bride or her maids—should choose the attendants’ attire?
I encourage brides first to shop alone to decide on a color palette and overall style. Then the bride should return to the store with one or two of the maids, show them the styles she has selected and see what they like best. While the final decision falls to the bride, it’s important to consider each girl’s body type and what she feels comfortable wearing and to choose accessories that don’t overpower her or the dress—classic and minimal never go out of style.
What styles generally work best for most figure types?
As a bride, it’s your day to shine but you should make sure that the women in the bridal party also feel elegant and confident. An empire waist with a softly draped silhouette is a very romantic look and it’s forgiving in the waist and hip area. Choose a dark, rich color for an extra-slimming effect. For a fashion-forward look, consider a dress that’s two-tone. For instance, a satin gown with an empire bodice and A-line skirt in cappuccino with dusty rose accents at the waist and hemline distract attention from most figure problems.