Bridal and formal designers don’t find it easy to balance on-trend touches with a unique finish. But After Six bridesmaid dresses – a contemporary collection by the Dessy Group – are catching the eyes of bridesmaids (and groomsgals) because they do just that.
They’re unusual enough to make you take a second look when you’re shopping (and priced so you won’t regret it), but these modern bridesmaid dresses also give today’s wedding party trends a classic twist.
Let’s look at why wedding trendsetters are giving this line so much attention.
The affordable bridesmaid dresses live up to their name by offering a certain quiet formality. Adornment is understated in this line – and mostly comes through the fall of the dress itself, with tailored seams and skillful dressmaker draping – but every garment feels made for an occasion with a dress code that sets it apart from the everyday.
Some of this evening elegance comes through in fabric. Flashes of matte satin highlight a collection that’s mostly a paean to chiffon, showing off the best of what the material can do to flatter, compliment, and please. (Adding lace to the mix is the perfect choice when accessorizing, but the dresses are bold enough not to need it.)
But some of the formality comes from the shape, too. Not every gown is the classic floor-length bridesmaid dress – shorter hems, like the knee-length style After Six 6695, do make an appearance in the collection – but somehow every dress feels distinctively gown-like. It’s something about the effortless but still shapely fits that gives the bridesmaid dresses such consistent star quality.
The collection’s two top sellers show off what’s important to today’s brides and their wedding parties. Though After Six 6697 and 6646 are fairly different dresses structurally, they share an aesthetic that’s revealing – not of the wearer (both feature a dipped and fitted, but not-too-skin-baring cut) but of the look that defines the 2010s wedding.
Wide, interesting necklines put the focus on the shoulders: 6697 has a wide V-neck with cap sleeves, and 6646 offers a high-fashion, one-shoulder bodice that goes from Lady Liberty neo-classical to runway-ready depending on the wedding party’s accessory choices. (In fact, there are very few plain necklines in this collection: some of the gowns might be minimalist, but all feature at least an interesting sweetheart curve or a wrapped crossover to grant some interest at the bust, either framing a necklace or making one unnecessary.)
Both gowns are long, slim chiffon A-lines, a flattering silhouette (and a forgiving fabric) that reflects couples’ desire for their bridesmaids to feel comfortable when they’re serving as wedding attendants. After Six 6697 has a gathered and ruched bodice that wraps around the natural waist, giving dimension to the fit. The cap sleeves are a nod to modesty that makes the gown easier to re-wear, too.
After Six 6646 takes the same silhouette in a new direction, honoring the line’s more contemporary angle. Less gathered for a smoother fall of chiffon fabric, it’s still softly nipped in at the natural waist, enhancing the curves of the bridesmaid who wears it – without disguising them under too much fabric.
If 6697 is all about flow, 6646 is all about fall – sheer, uninterrupted cascades of the luscious soft chiffon. The whole collection exemplifies both uses of fabric, even when (as in After Six 6673) the designer makes a brief turn to satin to fulfill the vision.
And of course, both gowns offer flexibility. Brides – or, if you like, each member of a given bridal party – can decide how to style each dress’s look so the result is understated and alluring, or daring and dazzling.
Say you’re sold on these affordable bridesmaid dresses (or at least you have them on your designer shortlist). What kind of wedding do these gorgeous styles suit best?
Trick question: the answers are endless. But we’ve certainly got four dreamy ideas!
Beside the ballgown. The long, sweeping skirts and romantic details that the After Six gowns offer are great for pairing with a princess-worthy fantasy bridal gown.
With every lady in the wedding party wearing a floor-brushing long skirt or a full, flaring one, the look is classic and consistent. But since most of the After Six styles get their panache from fabric draping and tailoring rather than from applied adornment, they won’t compete with the beading and lace that tends to decorate traditional wedding ballgowns. When the bride is sailing down the aisle in her full regalia, the bridesmaids will look royal without stealing the show – exactly what you want in a dress for your attendants!
Outdoor fairy tale. Some wedding planning experts swear by chiffon as simply the best fabric to wear for outdoor weddings. While we think fine treatments of cotton and even jersey knit have possibilities, it’s true that chiffon is lighter and more romantic than any of them!
Since the After Six bridesmaid line uses this lovely matte material, it’s a perfect place to start looking when your aesthetic leans toward fantasy – but you’re also concerned with keeping the marks of sweat or champagne condensation to a minimum. (Chiffon is so light and airy to wear, too!)
Urban evening. The sumptuous structure of these gowns – whether pleated, gathered, and draped, or sheer and smooth – gives them a red-carpet quality that’s worthy of a night in the city.
Weddings that take place at coveted top hotel venues or in glittering contemporary reception halls are the perfect setting for these dresses to shine. They’re not too expensive to mesh with a venue-focused wedding budget, but they’re definitely dramatic and striking enough to make bridesmaids feel right at home in a top-of-the-line setting. And since they’re so easy to accessorize, these gowns make the perfect canvas for flashy rhinestones and pearls – all the pieces you want an excuse to wear when the wedding is at the cocktail hour.
Boldly Bohemian. If every boho bride had an unlimited budget, handmade lace and vintage Gunne Sax dresses would predominate on every boho bridesmaid. Alas, that’s not the case. But the After Six bridesmaid dresses are an affordable way to get the same look.
The silky-smooth dresses in the collection make a pristine backdrop to more tactile layers (a handmade lace shawl in summer, a soft woven cowl or fur shrug in the fall). The more frequently-seen textured gowns, though, have a dynamic surface that really holds its own when you want a wedding to feel crafted, multi-sensory, and touchable. And with the dramatic wide necklines that predominate in the After Six collection, there’s plenty of room to display a macramé necklace or one-of-a-kind pendant – or, if you’ve chosen one of the asymmetrical bodices, to complement bold beaded earrings below a vintage-inspired braided updo.
So that’s why this collection is so popular with brides, bridesmaids, and wedding planners of all stripes. It’s versatile, not too costly, and the possibilities for making the looks your own are limitless. But the dresses have their own character, too, giving you a gorgeous start to create your wedding aesthetic.
How about you? Is an After Six gown catching your eye? How would you accessorize your favorite style? Tell us about your take on the trend in the comments!
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