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ATTENDANTS Tea length is new trend for bridesmaids' dresses



Published: Sat, April 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Most are strapless or have spaghetti straps, but expect some tweaking next year.

SCRIPPS HOWARD

Good news for bridesmaids: the latest trend in wedding attire could also be a great look for a Friday night out.

Just as puffy sleeves were replaced by the sleek stylish strapless a few years ago, it seems that floor-length evening gowns are now making way for tea-length bridesmaid dresses.

"Probably in the last six months, they started coming in," said Melinda Calfee, manager at Southern Bride, near Birmingham, Ala. "Then, more and more brides started ordering them for their bridesmaids. Now we carry a huge line of tea-length dresses."

The big bonus for bridesmaids is that these dresses, which come mostly in strapless or spaghetti strap with an A-line skirt that hits just below the knee, can be easily converted to date or party attire.

Plus, the tea length can help avoid alterations, which are often necessary with floor-length dresses, experts said.

"A lot of the brides want the girls to be able to wear it again," said Halle Arnold of Bridesmaid Inc., a dress shop in Homewood, Ala. She said the tea-length dresses have long been a staple for daytime weddings.

"[Brides] are seeing that they can be formal, that they aren't just for daytime weddings but work for evening as well," Arnold said.

Here to stay

Calfee said she doesn't think the shorter dresses are a passing fad. Rather, she said she believes they'll stick around, with some tweaking annually.

"I'm thinking next year the bridal companies will start doing something different with the tea length like doing a one-shoulder bodice or adding layers of chiffon or ruffles," Calfee said.

Floor-length gowns are still available for brides who want the more formal look, but wedding-goers can plan on seeing more leg as the wedding season kicks up.




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