18 Formal Bridesmaid Dresses That Will Wow at the Wedding

Sticking to a dress code has never been more exciting.
Three formal bridesmaid dresses
Photos, left to right: Anthropologie, Sachin & Babi, Lulus
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
The Knot Fashion Contributor
  • Elle writes for The Knot online with a focus on fashion, covering gown design trends and shoppable accessories.
  • Elle is a contributor to wedding publications across the country, including Brides, The New York Times Vows and Modern Luxury Weddings.
  • Prior to shifting to weddings, Elle covered lifestyle, culture and celebrity across Chicago as the editor of the Chicago Tribune’s SPLASH magazine, where she interviewed cele...
Updated Jun 18, 2024
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Whether you're selecting your own bridesmaid dress or following guidelines laid out by the bride, the first factor to consider is the wedding dress code. Formal is one of the most popular dress codes—and also of the most vague (the modifier varies from festive to black-tie). Formal bridesmaid dresses aren't one particular color or silhouette but tend to be longer in length, richer in hue and weightier in fabrication. Take a look through our roundup of styles that fit the bill (and explore more specific qualifications at the bottom) for inspiration. And remember: When in doubt, it's safer to be overdressed than under.

18 Best Formal Formal Bridesmaid Dresses

It's important to note that there's a difference between a formal bridesmaid dress and a formal wedding guest dress; the wedding party should be slightly more dressed up than the general guests. Each of these styles has an element that raises the bar—and yet still leaves plenty of room for creativity.

1. Structured Satin Bridesmaid Dress

Azazie blue satin formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Azazie

Satin slip dresses are having a major moment at cocktail-attire weddings. The look can certainly transition to formal or even black-tie with just a few adjustments. Opt for full-length rather than midis, and look for styles with structured corsets, boning or a fitted bodice. This affordable Azazie dress is a great option—and comes in nearly 40 hues to match any wedding palette.

Size Range: 0-30 or custom

2. Floral Formal Bridesmaid Dress

V. Chapman floral formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Revolve

Garden weddings aren't just for the daytime. Turn up the volume on florals for evening affairs with a long formal bridesmaid dress like this one by V. Chapman. The pattern says garden party, but the boned bodice, high slit and laced-up back detail are black-tie ready.

Size Range: 0-12

3. Bowed One-Shoulder Bridesmaid Dress

Missacc one-shoulder bow formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Missacc

Asymmetry is in, and here, it gets a formal upgrade. This one-shoulder column is rendered in a thick satin with a formal feel, and the oversize bow detail at the shoulder dresses it up even more. The price is right, too, and this affordable formal bridesmaid dress comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes, including plus sizes, so it's a pretty option for the whole party.

Size Range: 0-26 or custom

4. Convertible Bridesmaid Dress

Birdy Grey blue convertible formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Birdy Grey

Bridesmaid dress label Birdy Grey is known for its convertible dresses, so brides can select one style that will look totally cohesive, but each bridesmaid can wear a version she feels most beautiful in. This one gives off Regency vibes with its draped bodice and can be worn strapless, with supportive spaghetti straps or with removable sleeves draped off the shoulder.

Size Range: XS-3X

5. Rented Formal Bridesmaid Dress

Hutch rented formal bridesmaid gown
Photo: Rent the Runway

Rentals aren't always an option for large bridal parties where everyone is dressed alike—most rental inventories simply don't support it—but when bridesmaids are asked to select their own styles or mix and match, a rented dress works perfectly. This Hutch gown from Rent the Runway is a favorite option: The rich merlot hue is a formal color option, and the ballgown skirt has pockets for those wedding-day essentials.

Size Range: 0-14

6. Metallic Halter Bridesmaid Dress

AW Bridal metallic halter formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: AW Bridal

You'll be serving Studio 54 flair in this metallic halter bridesmaid dress that we love for New Year's Eve weddings (a growing trend!). This one comes in two fabric options: lustrous crystal satin with an effortless drape, or silky soft satin charmeuse with a more subtle sheen. The former is our pick for a more modern look, but both fit the bill in terms of formality.

Size Range: 0-30

7. Formal Midi Bridesmaid Dress

Anthropologie blue midi formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Anthropologie

Formal bridesmaid dresses don't necessarily have to be full-length, but if they're not, make sure that other elements elevate the sophistication. This midi style works great for formal wedding dress codes, with an elegant draped satin and removable neck tie detail.

Size Range: XXS-XXL

8. Simple Bridesmaid Dress with Jeweled Detailing

Sachin & Babi blue simple formal bridesmaid dress with jewel detailing
Photo: Sachin & Babi

Sophistication is served in the simplicity of this night-sky-colored bridesmaid dress. Its high-neck column silhouette is modern and chic, and the stretch mikado fabric feels formal and keeps its shape all evening. But it's the finishing touch—a pair of bejeweled clips at the base of each strap—that secure this dress a spot on our list.

Size Range: 0-14

9. Formal Bridesmaid Dress with Sequined Details

Lulus floral sequin formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Lulus

Speaking of pretty details, this formal mermaid bridesmaid dress has detail in spades, but the tone-on-tone rose gold hue keeps it understated. Sequined florals are appliqued onto a mesh overlay that extends past the hem for another unique detail. Pair it with a simple necklace or earrings, but otherwise, keep styling to a minimum.

Size Range: XXS-XL

10. Jacquard Bridesmaid Dress

Sachin & Babi blue jacquard formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Sachin & Babi

Woven jacquards are among our favorite fabrics for formal bridesmaid dresses; the material looks and feels rich and regal. This column gown gives the fabric a modern upgrade in an icy blue hue that's timelessly popular for bridal parties. Pair it with crystal chandelier earrings and a pretty pump.

Size Range: 0-14

11. Goddess Gown

Retrofete brown lame formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Retrofete

Black-tie bridesmaid gets a sexy upgrade with this goddess-inspired gown, rendered in a lustrous brown lame that catches the light. The ruched V-neck bodice and perfectly draped skirt with a thigh-high slit are sultry design details that still read formal. We love this for a winter wedding.

Size Range: XXS-XXL

12. Short-Sleeved Formal Bridesmaid Dress

Adrianna Papell metallic short sleeved formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Adrianna Papell

We can see this unique formal bridesmaid dress in a variety of settings: Play up the metallics of the sequined detailing for a winter wedding, or add a pop of color or floral earrings for a springy garden affair. The short-sleeve silhouette makes it a great choice for day or night, and the ankle length reads modern—and shows off a great pair of shoes.

Size Range: 0-26

13. High-Low Bridesmaid Dress

Adrianna Papell blue high-low floral formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Adrianna Papell

We love a high-low silhouette for hitting the dance floor uninhibited—the fact that it's also a stunning formal bridesmaid style is just a bonus. In this one, a pretty two-tone floral print jumps off the fabric in a rosette shoulder accent. Pair it with gemstone studs, and don't sleep on your shoe selection: The heels will be on full display.

Size Range: 0-20

14. Draped Strapless Bridesmaid Dress

Amsale green strapless formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Amsale

AMSALE is a go-to for bridesmaid formal dresses, and the label's unique fluid satin fabrication is a top reason why. Here, it's draped effortlessly across the bodice and flows into a subtle A-line skirt that sweeps the floor. For formal wedding attire, opt for a rich jewel tone like emerald, petrol, fuchsia or marigold.

Size Range: 00-32

15. Tea-Length Sequin Bridesmaid Dress

Milly sequin tea-length formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Saks Fifth Avenue

This tea-length Milly dress delivers all the formal sophistication of any floor-length bridesmaid dress. Pair it with strappy sandals and delicate hanging floral earrings for a daytime wedding, or pumps and a statement necklace for evening affairs.

Size Range: 0-12

16. Modern Black Bridesmaid Dress

BHLDN black one-shoulder formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Anthropologie

Black bridesmaid dresses are on-trend for formal weddings and provide a stunning foil to the bride in white. This satin charmeuse one-shoulder style gives the classic look a modern upgrade both in fabrication and silhouette, and the sleek maxi is comfortable and easy to dance the night away in. The best part: Black formal bridesmaid dresses leave plenty of room for creative accessorizing.

Size Range: 0-26

17. Bedazzled Pop of Color

Badgley Mischka yellow bejewelled formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Neiman Marcus

A daring choice for long formal bridesmaid gowns, this Badgley Mischka is a stunner. Its vibrant hue works well for elevated garden weddings or ballroom nuptials alike, and the bejeweled neck detail eliminates the need for too much styling—just stack on a few bangles and strike a pose.

Size Range: 0-16

18. Black Tulle Bridesmaid Dress

Lulus black tulle formal bridesmaid dress
Photo: Lulus

Tulle can lean airy and ethereal, rather than incredibly formal—but when rendered in black, it gets an elevated upgrade. The details on this piece, too, make it formal: A full, floor-length skirt, tiered construction and demure fluttery straps. Look closely, and you'll see that the tulle is dotted, adding an extra layer of texture and depth.

Size Range: XS-XL

What to Look For in a Formal Bridesmaid Dress

"Formal" is a broad category that can be hard to decipher. If you aren't sure if a style is formal enough, check it against this list of qualifiers—a dress doesn't have to check every box, but should tick one or two at least.

  • Heavy Fabric: Look for materials that have a little weight to them, rather than floaty, ethereal fabrics—think crepe, matte satin or jacquard. These not only look more formal but help the dresses hang on the body in a more sophisticated way and are less prone to wrinkling.
  • Long Length: Floor-skimming dresses are the most formal, followed closely by ankle-length. If your dress is shorter—say, midi-length—make sure it has other elements that elevate it, such as the fabric, detailing or color. Then, accessorize accordingly, selecting a high-style shoe and formal jewelry.
  • Structured Details: Boned bodices, voluminous skirts, corset tops and structured details are some examples of intentional design elements that lend formality to bridesmaid dresses.
  • Rich Color: Pastels, blush tones and light colors work beautifully for daytime weddings, but for evening affairs, opt for richer jewel tones, darker hues, moody floral patterns or classic black.
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