Washington - Brides have long told their closest friends and family a little white lie when asking them to be part of their bridal party. “Don’t worry,” an infinity of women have uttered to their bridesmaids, “you’ll be able to wear the dress again.”

In truth, most women of a certain age have yards of pastel chiffon shoved into the far corners of their closets, never to be seen again.

Thankfully, designers have begun shifting the aesthetic of bridesmaid dresses to more closely mirror ready-to-wear pieces, says Julia Lichtman Kepniss, a bridal wear retailer.

Neutral shades like charcoal, black and tan are pushing out the lilac and cornflower blue. Choices in fabrics have expanded past the crinkled chiffon and silk satins that dominated the last decade.

Their prevalence has made it nearly impossible to rewear the garments without being immediately recognised as coming from a bridal salon. Lace, tulle and jersey have emerged as more versatile options.

Restyling these dresses so they may be worn to other events is possible. It all comes down to accessories, says stylist Michele Lopez. Large earrings or a dramatic heel can change the entire feel of a dress.

Tailoring an item is also key. Slimming the silhouette of a skirt, taking up a hemline or removing straps and embellishments can help make a begrudged purchase into a treasured staple. - The Washington Post