bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

It's wedding season, and we ALL know that bridesmaid dresses can be a struggle. All that money for a dress you'll never wear again?

Pass.

So when I learned that Forever 21 has a bridesmaid section, I KNEW that Alle and I had to check it out. With gowns starting at $18, we were curious if this could be a bridal game-changer.

While I've only been in two weddings, Alle has been in eight. "Bridesmaid dresses are always unattractive and expensive, and they ALWAYS need a million dollars worth of alterations. If the F21 versions are cheap and cute, I'm down" Alle said. So we were both filled with hope (and hesitation) to see if these dresses were the answer to our prayers.

First up were the most formal dresses of the bunch.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

~fancy~

Alle thought this silver gown was wayyy too shiny.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Alle is wearing a small in the metallic maxi halter dress ($65, Forever 21).

"Online, this dress looked like Nicole Kidman at Cannes. IRL, it was Tinman Goes to Studio 54," Alle said.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

That disco ball-chic look.

She almost had to dislocate her shoulder to get it on!

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"It has no zips, so you basically either need six handmaidens to dress you, or you need to be a jellyfish so that you can bonelessly slither into it," Alle said. 

However, we both thought that the ruffles were a nice touch.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Unfortunately, the material looked — and felt — really cheap. Thankfully, the lining provided a protective barrier.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"The lining was nice, though. It was really soft, which was important because the silver material itself was OMG SO ITCHY. It made my neck all red from where the ties chafed!," she said. 

However, Alle never wants to put this dress on her body ever again in her life.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"Overall, I would never wear this dress, not even if forced by the bride," Alle said. "I cannot with the tinfoil, although I did like the ruffle."

Meanwhile, I tried this slinky satin number. I was pleasantly surprised, because this dress fit like a *glove.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I'm wearing a medium in the satin wrapped bodice gown ($48, Forever 21).

*Note: I didn't wear it with the straps, but it still fit just fine! 

Usually strapless gowns are too big in the bust for me, but this one fit just right.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I could definitely see myself dancing the night away in a dress like this without fear of it slipping down.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

*Dancing queen*

It didn't bunch up near the bottom, either, which I thought it would do.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I was a fan of this gown, and I would definitely wear it again. 

The side slit definitely made it easier to walk around in.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Without it, I'm pretty sure I would've been hobbling around for all of eternity. And that WOULD NOT be cute.

Next, we channeled our inner Coachella bridesmaid with a couple of floral dresses.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

It's still on the table whether or not you're supposed to wear these to a wedding or a music festival. 

Florals? For a spring wedding? GROUNDBREAKING. "I don't LOVE the color — pink is the worst on me — but the floral isn't bad. I'm not offended."

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Alle is wearing a medium in the floral print slit maxi dress ($17.90, Forever 21).

She really liked the neckline, and would maybeee wear the dress in real life.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"I liked that this was pretty casual — I can definitely see it for an outdoor wedding," she said. "This dress isn't personally my style anymore (I had a pair of palazzo pants with this print on them in the '90s), but it's cute. Definite re-wear potential."

"The dress was easy to get into, but it has a half-slip that bunches the hell UP," she said.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"As I walked around our studio, the lining wriggled up until it was gathered around my waist like an inner tube. Very un-cute," Alle said. 

The dress tied in the back as well.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"I could actually get into this dress. FINALLY."

My free-spirited dress was a cute color and was comfy, but left much to be desired.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I'm wearing a medium in the flowy button-up maxi dress ($27.90, Forever 21). 

This dress didn't look like a bridesmaid dress. At all.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

It was just a little tooooo drab-looking, especially with the buttons. And it was super revealing since you can see through the top buttons. Once again, this was more of a Coachella dress than a bridesmaid gown.

I would've sized down, however I would be nervous if the armholes became too small. 

I liked the back cutout feature, and the ruffles on the back.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I think the ruffles took my dress up a notch. However, the fabric felt a little cheap for what you might wear to a wedding. 

OH LOOK ANOTHER SLIT.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I don't think this dress needed so many slits, since there was one on the front and two on both sides. Who needs that much airflow? 

A popular wedding trend is to put your bridesmaid in white or ivory. Blame Kate Middleton.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

We're both wearing a medium in the soieblu pleated maxi dress ($65, Forever 21). 

Although we might look like angels, we both said HELL NO to this gown.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

It's like an angelic pillowcase. 

"I'm wearing a medium, which should have fit me per the size guide — and it was HUGE. As tight as we could pull the straps, it was still massive as hell," Alle said.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"This dress supposedly runs a little small, but can be adjusted... it couldn't be adjusted enough. My boobs didn't fill out the top of this gown."

This dress was see-through, the fabric was bad, and we couldn't get it to fit right.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"This dress was total Art Deco elegance online, and grandma house dress in life. The pleated fabric that looks so chic in pictures is actually rubbery to the touch and so shiny that it hurts to stare directly at it," Alle said. 

If you're a bridesmaid that plans on not dancing or eating messy foods then this is the dress for you.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist
"It was also suuuuuuper long. I'm 5'10" and was wearing 3" heels, and it was dragging on the floor. I just got back from a wedding in Illinois where I did a lot of running around — this is your job as a bridesmaid — and dancing. If I'd worn this there, it would have been filthy after an hour," Alle said.

I thought this dress was a baggy nightmare. I think it would've worked better as a fitted sheet.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I'm also wearing a size medium. Help. 

Like most of the dresses, it tied in the back as well.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I thought it would've been too low-cut, but surprisingly it wasn't too bad.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Although I'm still unsure if I'd actually wear this to a wedding — if a bride told me I also had to wear white, I'd probably pick something else.

Finally, we tried the classic F21 bridesmaid dresses. We may look happy, but we were still nervous about trying these on.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Alle LOVED this dress.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Alle is wearing a small in the Pretty by Rory surplice dress ($68, Forever 21).  

"By this point, my standards were so low that I was frankly delighted to be able to easily PUT THIS DRESS ON MY BODY," Alle said.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

She thought this dress was akin to Reformation dresses, but a much cheaper option. 

There were edgy double straps, which took the dress out of #basic territory.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Thankfully, it was partially lined on the inside.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

AND it had discreet snaps on the front.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist
"I liked the double straps at the shoulder, the high split in front (with built-in lining, so you're not accidentally Bella Hadid), and the genius SNAPS at the bust in front (so you can actually put it on)," Alle said.

"I would 100% wear this as a bridesmaid, and I know I'd wear it again after that. This F21 piece would definitely get some extended wear," Alle said.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

She also thought it wasn't overly fancy, but was a good deal for the price. 

I put my gown on and immediately had a "MY GOODNESS" moment. This dress was LOW-CUT. But it is available in plus-size!

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

I'm wearing a medium in the contemporary surplice dress ($24.90, Forever 21). I wasn't prepared for alllll of my business to be out there. Also, it's so low-cut I don't think I could actually walk around, much less dance at a wedding without fear of flashing someone.

I thought the double skirts on the asymmetrical dress made this dress unique.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

Although the dress isn't my style, I like the design approach. The cut was a little high, but the bottom of the dress was pretty and flowed nicely. 

Although the top didn't fit well, the fit was much better on the bottom.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

It wasn't too tight around the waist, which was nice, but I just wished the fit was better on the top as well. If I was going to wear this in a wedding I'd have to get it tailored. 

I thought the tassels were a nice detail, but pretty much the only significant one.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

The quality of the fabric wasn't terrible, and I appreciated that it also wasn't see-through. However the fit on top was too low-cut for me to feel comfortable at a formal event. 

Final thoughts: Although the quality isn't great, the Forever 21 bridesmaid dress section is a pretty good option if you have a small wedding budget.

bridesmaids dresses forever 21
photo: Brittany Fowler/Revelist

"I think it's a great idea for F21 to carry bridesmaid dresses — sometimes your wedding party doesn't have a ton of money to spend on an event dress, and if you dig hard enough, you can find some tolerable stuff," Alle said.

Key word: DIG. We both found that the site was difficult to navigate, especially with sizing. A lot of the sizes and styles we wanted were sold-out, which would definitely make it difficult to buy multiple dresses for a whole bridal party.

Plus, the majority of the dresses stop at XL, so there's not many options for plus-size bridesmaid. Also, if the colors went beyond pastels and the silhouettes had more range outside of "festival fashion," Alle and I would've been bigger fans. 

Though Alle *really* liked the black dress (what a surprise), we both wished the other dresses had the same quality. That one dress was proof that Forever 21 CAN make affordable, decent-quality braidesmaid dresses — now the question is, does the company really WANT to. 

After all, everyone deserves affordable, well-made bridesmaid dresses — hopefully Forever 21 is headed in the right direction.