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How to Make a Merry Maid

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Terri Spaeth-Merrick, owner and designer for both Embellish, a custom design studio, and OliviaLuca.com, a Web-based design tool that allows brides to create gowns by combining a number of pre-existing elements, offers advice for picking out a dress your bridesmaids will love, no matter where you get it.

Flattering Silhouettes

Everyone tends to look good in an A-line skirt with an empire seam that sits right under the bust; it adds emphasis for the smaller busted, but also looks great on everyone else except those with a cup-size fuller than DD. Lower, more open necklines tend to frame the face better, especially on gals with a full bust. Length should hit where the leg curves in the most, just at the bottom of the knee cap, or two to three inches above the ankle bone – if the length hits right at mid-calf, it just makes the calf look wider.

Flawless Fabrics

Fabrics that have stable body and don’t have a lot of shine are the best when you have a range of sizes to accommodate. The softer reflection of light off of fabrics that have a lower sheen or are matte, tends to make all the sizes look smaller. Super shiny fabrics highlight all the shapes underneath them, as do really soft and draping fabrics. Good fabric choices for all sizes are dupioni, shantung or chiffon over a lining with body, such as cotton or linen.

Expertly Coordinated Color

Colors that are in the mid-tones of any color range typically work for a wide range of skin tones. A pastel or an intense bright blue may not look good on all your maids, but a soft turquoise generally will. Dark, rich colors, such as chocolate brown, also tend to look good on a group.

Other Tips for the Perfect Dress

Details such as sashes are a great way to emphasize or hide parts of the figure. A wide, ruched sash at the waist is great for those who are uncomfortable with the tummy area; a sash just under the bust can emphasize a small bust or make a shorter gal look taller; any sash at the waist can emphasize a tiny waist, and make a tall gal with a long torso look more balanced. But the most important thing is to choose a style for each gal that makes her feel beautiful; if she doesn’t, it will show.

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