So you鈥檝e asked your best ladies to be a part of your epic day by serving as your bridesmaids. After all the hugging (and tears of joy) comes the really fun part: shopping for dresses! Now with you being a cool bride and all, you, of course, want to find dresses that will make everyone in your bridal squad look and feel amazing. With so many bridesmaid dress brands offering both classic and unique styles for every taste and body type, the possibilities are endless. The tough part is choosing which dresses will work best with your day and your maids.

We talked to Erin Graver, a bridal consultant and stylist for BHLDN in Chicago, about what it takes to make the right choices for every gal in your bridal party. Whether you choose one dress, a common color or you mix and match, you can find a way to make your whole crew look and feel stunning as all get-out.

Vila Lace Top Button Back Maxi Dress

1. Go for styles that are universally flattering. Of course, different styles are going to be flattering on different body types, but a dress that hits at the natural waist generally works best. Erin says, 鈥淎 well-structured bodice will always make a huge difference to support ladies who need it, and create shape for ladies who need that.鈥 There are styles that people drift toward that are seemingly flattering but can be deceiving. 鈥淲omen tend to want to wear things that are flowy over the hips and stomach, but sometimes extra fabric visually adds extra volume,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淚nstead, steer toward streamlined silhouettes with patterns or textures (such as beading or lace) to help your ladies feel less exposed through their midsection, while still looking elongated. Any kind of back detail that forms a V shape instead of cutting straight across will be really beautiful as well.鈥

Vila Lace Top Button Back Maxi Dress ($106)

J.Crew Julia Dress

2. Avoid cuts that might make your bridesmaids feel uncomfortable. Certain cuts, while they look great on most, might make some bridesmaids feel a bit self conscious. 鈥淢ost women are not comfortable in strapless, and believe me, nothing looks less flattering than a woman who is uncomfortable and tugging at what they are wearing,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淪weetheart necklines are flattering and feminine, and the best part is that they don鈥檛 always have to be strapless. Strapless can be hard to wear unless the dress is incredibly structured and tailored. If you like the sweetheart neckline, consider something that has a strap (or the option for one), or an illusion neckline (some sort of nude or subtle mesh that goes over the chest and shoulders above the sweetheart line).鈥 Speaking of straps, be careful when it comes to dresses with spaghetti straps. Erin says, 鈥淲hile this sometimes is a refreshingly casual look, it鈥檚鈥 not something I recommend if your maids vary a great deal in shape.鈥

Length can be a problem for bridesmaids too. Let鈥檚 say one of your friends is a gymnast (small) and another is a basketball player (tall). Finding a length that makes both feel beautiful can be tricky. Tea length, for example, is a difficult cut. 鈥淭ea-length dresses are a really gorgeous and sophisticated hemline, but very difficult to wear for a lot of women,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淥ften times if the hem isn鈥檛 at just the right length, it can really shorten people visually.鈥 If you don鈥檛 want your shorter bridesmaids to feel like they鈥檙e swimming in floor-length skirts either, try something that cuts off at the knee. Pro tip from Erin: 鈥淪ometimes finding a dress that has a higher waist is a great way to create the feel of a tea-length dress without cutting off a woman鈥檚 height.鈥 No matter their height, all your girls deserve to stand tall in a dress that flatters them.

J.Crew Julia Dress ($180)

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3. Keep an eye out for trends that are versatile. Avoiding unflattering cuts doesn鈥檛 mean your choices have to be limited. There are a ton of styles to look out for that look great on everyone, some of which are moving from 鈥渢rendy鈥 to 鈥渂ridesmaid style mainstay.鈥 Erin says that dresses with blouson tops are a becoming a popular option. 鈥淭hough a lot of women are skeptical of this silhouette on the hanger, almost everyone loves it on,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淭he reason is that it is very minimizing to the chest on women who are busty, but naturally creates shape for women who feel less endowed. It鈥檚 also flattering at the waist and often times isn鈥檛 too hip hugging, so it鈥檚 easy to move in.鈥 The best part? You can wear a normal bra with it, which is a dream come true for any bridesmaid.

Convertible dresses are a modern bride and bridesmaid鈥檚 dream. You can stick to one dress, but each bridesmaid can make it their own. Erin says that 鈥渉aving a dress that has a gorgeous, feminine silhouette but allows the wearer to easily customize the neckline by securing panels of fabric in place is a great way to ensure your maids are wearing something they are comfortable in, but also looks cohesive with each bridesmaid.鈥

Then there鈥檚 the two-piece trend, which is very modern but also very flattering, especially since each piece can be different a fit. 鈥淧icking a skirt and a top that is the most flattering for each body type is a really great way to ensure your maids are wearing something they love,鈥 says Erin. Crop tops are hot in the fashion world right now and are often featured as bridesmaids鈥 separates, but brides looking for a 鈥渢imeless鈥 look might want to steer clear of the trend. 鈥淭his is definitely a look that will be trend specific, which I鈥檓 all for embracing if you鈥檙e into the idea, but it can look awkward if not done carefully, and it will date your wedding,鈥 says Erin. The key to keeping this look classy is to keep the skirts high-waisted and the tops at a length that still slightly covers the top of the skirt. Keep it more 鈥減eek-a-boo鈥 and less Britney Spears in the early 鈥00s, and make sure this is something that your bridesmaids feel comfortable wearing.

According to Erin, patterned dresses are 鈥渁 great way to instantly set the tone for your wedding and give it a really interesting and unexpected look.鈥 For the most part, patterns are super flattering because they can hide problem areas by shifting the focus more on the print and less on a person鈥檚 silhouette. The important thing is to keep in mind that a bold print might look good on some but unflattering on others. Erin says that you should 鈥済ravitate toward patterns that are softer and more muted and subtly integrated into the overall color of the dress.鈥

BHLDN Brooklyn Dress ($280)

grace loves lace lace split tee and lace maxi skirt

4. Keep the vision of your day in mind. There are a ton of things to keep in mind when looking for dresses, with the main one being, well, your wedding. 鈥淭hink about your dress and venue,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淭here are lots of different types of weddings, but identifying the tone you envision will help you zone in on the types of dresses you want your ladies to wear. Sleek, modern, industrial? Get inspired by dresses with classic, sleek silhouettes, or play around with the idea of metallics. Think of what will really pop in the space. Romantic, boho, whimsical? Consider softer fabrics like tulle and lace. Things that are flowy and feminine and so on.鈥 Also, consider the time of year you鈥檒l be getting married. 鈥淕etting married in July? Look for lightweight, breezy fabrics. Getting married in Chicago in December? This might not be the time to do strapless,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淎 comfortable wedding party is a happy wedding party, and a happy wedding party is always the most photogenic, regardless of what they鈥檙e wearing. 鈥

Grace Loves Lace Lace Split Tee ($299) and Lace Maxi Skirt ($395)

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5. There can be power (but some problems) in numbers. Another ongoing wedding trend is big bridal parties. If this is the route you鈥檙e taking, be prepared for some hurdles along the way. 鈥淚f you are having nine bridesmaids, your challenge is going to be cohesion,鈥 says Erin. 鈥淭hings don鈥檛 need to match perfectly, but to simplify the process you鈥檒l want something that feels a little more uniform. Whether this is done with a color, a silhouette or just making everyone wear the same dress, this is the key.鈥 Another challenge is trying to work with all the different body types of your group. This is when you should consider the convertible route, or different dresses in the same color. Erin says, 鈥淚 would probably recommend going through a place that specializes in bridesmaids dresses in these situations. Often you get a deal if more than a certain number of maids order through them, and you can stay a little more organized with knowing who has ordered and ensuring everyone is getting something a little more tailored to their measurements.鈥 Here鈥檚 another pro piece of advice from Erin: 鈥淎 general rule of thumb is the fewer maids you have, the bolder and more creative you can get with mix and match. The more ladies you have, the more it helps to tighten the focus and the palette to avoid everything looking messy and distracting.鈥

Show Me Your MuMu Jenni Maxi Dress ($198)

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6. It鈥檚 important for brides and their bridesmaids to have each other鈥檚 backs. Communication is super important when it comes to bridal parties. After all, you鈥檙e kind of a team, and you want the day to work thanks to clear support from each other. Try to give them palettes to think about, shops to look at and deadlines to keep. Erin says, 鈥淩emember, ultimately these ladies signed up for this to support the bride, so having a really clear idea of what the bride wants and when she wants it done helps make their decision-making process a lot easier.鈥 When you go shopping, bring a couple of your ladies, if you can, so you can try to work with the different body types you have in your group. This is ultimately your day, yes, but everyone should be comfortable. 鈥淐onsider a bridesmaids gift that helps them keep comfortable between photos, like a pashmina for chilly weather, or flip-flops or flats to slip on for the dance floor,鈥 says Erin.

BHLDN Ginger Convertible Maxi Dress ($310)

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