Sometimes, a bride doesn't want traditional. She doesn't want expensive or heavily embellished, or layers of fabric that require help to maneuver before and after the trip down the aisle to say "I do." In some cases, the best choice is well under several thousand dollars and mimics something from a fashion magazine as much as it does a bridal one. Enter, the street style inspired wedding dresses.
What Does "Street Style" Mean?
Laidback, chic, and as effortless as a wedding dress can be, street style dresses can have several different looks. In most cases, street style dresses will have a bohemian or beachy feel and lend themselves beautifully to outdoor weddings (from gardens to fields, beaches to mountains) due to their relatively simple styles and lack of a long train, but some more traditional and even vintage-inspired styles fit under that "street" umbrella as well. These dresses are on the less expensive end of the wedding dress spectrum, too, so if you're shopping on a budget, they may be worth considering. You may also see them referred to as "high street" dresses, especially in British publications.
The street style wedding dresses aren't always "no frills," but they do tend to have less fabric (in the form of a train or heavy, voluminous skirt), beading, and other intricate details. They do, however, often feature lace and/or chiffon. These dresses can even be found in some department stores, not just bridal boutiques, and won't always require an appointment and an assistant to try on and purchase them. Ordering online is also possible. If you want a no-fuss wedding from the gown up, street style may be the way to go.
Though street style inspired gowns aren't always as much of a break from traditional wedding dresses as possible, they can be. Street style dresses can be:
- Shorter than the typical dress (they're usually around ankle-length, but tea-length isn't unheard of)
- Separate top and skirt, sometimes with a sliver of midriff exposed
- Ankle-length slip style with skinny straps and slinky satin
- Cut close to the body and have a shape more similar to an everyday dress than a ball gown
Of course, they tend to be less expensive than other dresses and get their style from lace (often with scalloped edges), drape, and cut. These are the dresses you could almost see being worn in non-wedding situations. They have that something special that a bride desires, but they're never over the top.
Brides Who Choose Street Style Gowns
They're at home in outdoor weddings just as much as indoor, and look just as much at home in small backyard garden ceremonies as they do in church. They're for the free spirit, the carefree girl, the woman on a budget, the non-traditionalist, and even the one who thinks weddings are overrated but wants to look stunning and still "like a bride" for her small, intimate ceremony.
As you'll notice from the collection of street style dresses, there's no single look to pin down. These dresses come across as more casual than options with long trains, heavy beading, and other ornate details. What these dresses have in common are their relatively low prices, carefree feel, willingness to step outside the norm (some farther than others), and their charm.
Grace Loves Lace
Note that initial Grace Loves Lace prices are shown in AUD but can be changed to USD or EUR right on the page as needed.
- The Verdelle from Grace Loves Lace is only a bit over $1000.00. It combines an ethereal feel with a high front slit. It's glamorous without screaming "bridal gown" and has a simple v-neck style and lacy cape sleeves to highlight the décolletage.
- The Juliette and Romina set is romantic, trendy, daring, and beautiful all at once, with panels of lace that offer glimpses of skin beneath them in the midriff and leg areas. The top is cropped but has a lace overlay that hangs to the waistband of the skirt. The skirt follows suit, with an A-line cut style that is opaque until just above mid-knee and then lace only to the ankles. This dress is just over $500.00.
Catherine Deane dresses are in UK sizes.
- The Catherine Deane Genevieve dress has a carefree, Bohemian flair. It offers a plunging neckline (part of it is illusion, so you may not need to worry as much about the top staying in place as you would with a true deep-V neckline) and is made with silk chiffon and lace. This dress is just over $1000.00.
Depending on where you live and your local store's stock, visiting the department store Dillard's may be one of the easiest dresses to try on without making a commitment of any kind.
- The JS Collections Beaded Illusion Back Gown at Dillard's is less than $300.00 and perfect for someone who wants elegance on a budget. Princess seams and capped sleeves combine with the gold lace back to give this dress its understated elegance.
- The Xscape Lace Two-Piece Gown from Dillards is a solution for the woman who wants to add a trendy, edgy vibe to a dress that hints at the traditional. The overall style hugs the curves and flares out at the bottom with a mermaid skirt. It has a modest crew neckline and lace accents with a scalloped trim. Where the trendiness comes in, however, is in the slightly exposed midriff. This dress is just under $300.00.
Needle & Thread
When selecting gowns from Needle & Thread, be sure to select the USD option for accurate pricing.
- Needle & Thread's Bridal Fleur Devore Gown is one of the more modest options available in street wear inspired styles. It's a maxi dress with wide-cut sleeves that end at the elbow. Floral, lace, velvet, and a sheer overlay add visual interest to this design. Expect to pay around $400.00.
- If you want your skirt to swish as you walk down the aisle and love showing off your shoulders and décolletage, there's the Bridal Blush Voluminous Maxi Dress, also from Needle & Thread. The bodice is fitted and has thin, adjustable straps. The skirt is comprised of several layers of tulle that give it a full, romantic look without taking it over the top into serious ball gown territory. This dress is available for just over $300.00.
The same company who runs stylish website Anthropologie brings that fashion sense to BHLDN.
- The Drew Gown from BHLDN is available for just under $1000.00 and combines a sense of whimsy (maybe even fairy-inspired style) with romance. There's lace from top to bottom, bell sleeves, and a low-cut back. For a wedding with a bohemian vibe, or even one that combines a nod to the Edwardian era with a modern twist, this may be the perfect dress.
- The Mia Top and Ellory Skirt combination from BHLDN is a chic combination that pairs a simple, silk, spaghetti strap cami with a v-neck and a fitted column skirt covered in lace. There's texture, shine, and beautiful sophistication when these two pieces are paired together. The top is available for less than $200.00 and the skirt is about $400.00. The site recommends the Liane Silk Flower Sash to tie it all together, and it's available for just under $400.00.
Budget-friendly David's Bridal also has street styles for the bride.
- The Lace Crop Top with 3/4 Sleeves (just over $100) and Long Chiffon Skirt (just under $100) from David's Bridal are quite the pair for the edgy bride who still has a soft spot for the romance of lace and chiffon. You may even be able to get some use out of these pieces after the wedding is over, though maybe not together. The skirt hits at the natural waist, so just a glimpse of the midriff is available.
- The Lace Cap Sleeve Long Matte Mesh Dress from David's Bridal (about $200.00) veers away from the sheen and sparkle most wedding dresses have. With the cap sleeves and empire bodice, cascade detail along the skirt, and open back, this dress is both casual and feminine. It would be perfect for an indoor or outdoor wedding.
Nordstrom is another department store where you can try on the options before you buy. Start with one of the tops below and try pairing them with the short Jenny Yoo 'Lucy' Tulle Skirt or the longer Jenny Yoo 'Arabella' Tulle Ballgown Skirt.
- The 'Anais' Cap Sleeve V-Neck Top from Nordstrom takes a traditional wedding dress look and turns it into something more modern as part of a two-piece set. It has the lace, scalloped edges, sheer back, and sweet capped sleeves many traditional brides love, but it has to be paired with a separate skirt, which means you have the control and ability to choose the most flattering style for your body. The top is only available in stores, but while you're there, you can check the color match against skirt options.
- The Jenny Yoo 'Thea' Three Quarter Sleeve Lace Top from Nordstrom (just over $150.00) is another separates option that gives you more control over what you wear on your special day. It's available in Ivory or Blush and has a camisole lining. The Jenny Yoo 'Samantha' Short Sleeve Lace Top (just over $100.00) is a similar top option, with shorter sleeves.
Reformation is based in Los Angeles and the company strives to get designs made within a month of their conception.
- The Julieta Dress from Reformation is available in so many colors and patterns, it doesn't have to serve as a wedding dress, but it looks lovely as one. Delicate, unassuming, lightly ruffled, open-backed (with a mid-back tie), and with a slit that keeps it from being overly demure, this dress (just under $400.00) could be the one you've been searching for. Like the style, but think it's not for you? It makes the perfect bridesmaid dress, too.
- The Angelina Dress, also from Reformation, is about $300.00 and features a deep v-neck in front and an open back. If you're comfortable wearing no bra and like the freedom of movement this dress provides with its carefree, relaxed style and shape, this could be the one for you.
ASOS is a fashion-forward company that also sells wedding dresses.
- The ASOS Bridal Lace 3D Floral Fishtail Maxi Dress (a little over $400.00) works several street style trends into one sexy little white dress, but there's no denying that it's for a bride, thanks to the lace and applique detailing. The lining of this curve-hugging dress only goes to miniskirt length, but the lace continues on to the ankles.
- If you really want to break tradition and skip the dress entirely, the ASOS Bridal Waterfall Jumpsuit with Tie Waist (around $200.00) is what you're looking for. At first glance, it may even look like a dress because of its extremely wide legs with slits on the sides, but it is, in fact, a beautiful jumpsuit. Despite not actually being a dress, it has features that make it look just as romantic as any street style gown, like a plunge neckline, cinched waist, and angel sleeves.
What to Look For While Shopping
Budget-friendly dresses don't require you to skimp on quality. When possible, of course, you'll want to inspect the dresses closely and try them on before making a purchase, but that isn't always possible. Read any reviews you can find, carefully comb through the return policy, ask questions, and thoroughly compare sizing and size charts before ordering your dress. It's easy to get wrapped up in shopping for the perfect dress, especially if you feel like you've hit the jackpot by finding several affordable dresses. Think about the venue, the time of day, the décor, and even the photos you want to have taken to determine which dress fits best with your total vision for your big day.