I have discovered a dichotomy that I cannot make heads or tails of. The trend now is for brides to pick out a dress that their "maids" will wear again, yet if anyone wants to wear said dress that they paid for, had altered to their shape and really like before the wedding they are shot down, rolled up in a carpet, and booted out of town.
First off, I really don't think no matter how hip bridesmaid dresses claim to be that they'll ever really not look like one. Sure it helps that they've moved to tea and cocktail length (sounds like we're all gonna have to pee a lot during this thing) but there is just something about a dress you can only get at a bridal salon that screams wedding party.
My MOH and I looked for some bridesmaid dresses at David's Bridal (by that I mean I sat back and let her go wild, only she knows what looks good on her body so I wasn't gonna offer up any opinions). She managed to find the worst dress ever. It would make anyone above a model sample size look like they're as wide as a truck. We didn't take any pictures of her in it (she'd kill me if I had, it looked so bad I was laughing like crazy) but here's the picture on a slip of a model. In the end all of the dresses there just looked, well, really bad. Nothing looked cute or hip, just sort of dowdy and as though the wearer would rather be swallowed into the bowels of hell.
She lucked out as she found a gorgeous dress at a department store that was in the right color range of blue (I am not a painter, I do not have any swatches for what color everyone should be. I think limiting it to green and blue is enough of a challenge). I would say that if you really do want your girls to wear their dresses again go the department store route. I still feel bad for one who did get her dress at the bridal salon. She says she'd wear it again, and it does look good on her, but I'm still worried about people telling me things to make me happy for fear I'll start breathing fire.
If you are the type of bride who feels like they must stress over every last detail, here's a very thorough article on choosing a bridesmaid dress for all your girls whether they'd like it or not.
I don't get it, this whole matchy matchy thing. The idea that you get final veto for something you aren't paying for or wearing or will have to house in your closet for years to come. I'd much rather they all be comfortable in something they feel sexy in than something I thought would just look perfect on one body type (probably mine) and no one else can pull off.
As for the idea that if they do have a perfect dress that they love the style and color of, but they can't wear it before the wedding I got a few counter arguements. First the idea that you might spill some wine on it (not a major issue as I know neither of my friends drink wine) it's called a dry cleaner, if it rips you happen to know a good seamstress that just altered the dress for you. And as for the bride seeing you in the dress and getting angry I know my MOH is wearing hers for her sisters wedding, I'll be there pulling down guest book duty and I'm excited to see it on her.