Bridal trends are continuing to evolve from the expected to the distinctive. Traditional gowns, be they ornate, bohemian, or minimal, will always have their place. But for brides seeking out something different, or perhaps those with a "less is more" approach to wedding wear, the bridal separates trend is one to consider. It caters to all tastes and styles of celebration — formal, whimsical, laid-back — including sharp suits, elegant top-and-trouser combos, and beautifully coordinating skirts sets. What's more, the trend's inherent versatility makes it a judicious choice for brides looking to invest wisely in their wardrobes.
Even before 2020 turned the wedding industry on its head, two-piece bridal sets were more frequently showing up alongside scene-stealing gowns in bridal collections. "I've been designing bridal separates since the '90s, and our brides have been wearing our tops and skirts since [the brand's] conception in 2005," Kate Halfpenny, designer of Halfpenny London, tells TZR. "As a stylist, I love to have options, so I design pieces that are interchangeable — this allows a bride to create the look of her dreams by cherry-picking her favorite elements."
Known for their achingly romantic silhouettes, Kris Brock and Laura Vassar of Brock Collection designed many wedding-appropriate looks made up of two pieces — some from their ready-to-wear collections and others as part of their bespoke bridal business. "While we regularly sketch first, we prefer to work in a more three-dimensional way," Brock explains to TZR of the duo's creative process, often resulting in romantic bodice tops or frilled jackets paired back to feminine skirts. "We're layering, cutting, and draping fabrics on the body, which very often leads to our final silhouettes."
This process translates to Brock Collection's bespoke bridal designs. "Our fittings are a creative, intimate moment with our brides where we study the fabric and cuts directly on them," Vassar says. "We love that our pieces frequently end up being separates, giving the garments life beyond their special day."
Whether for wedding-related events or the ceremony itself, retailers like MATCHESFASHION and BHLDN increased the number of separates in their buys, catering to unconventional and fashion-focused brides. "Many of our customers were holding weddings with different parts to the celebration, from an intimate family dinner to the ceremony and then the party and the going away outfit," Natalie Kingham, the fashion and buying director of MATCHESFASHION, tells TZR.
With coordinates like sharp suits, asymmetric top-and-trousers sets, and dresses with matching capes or jackets, the retailer's curated selection gives brides options that suit diverse tastes with longevity to live on in their wardrobe's far beyond the wedding date. "Separates are the ideal option for a bride to personalize a look that's uniquely hers. They allow for versatility, creativity, and so much personality to shine through," Lori Conley, BHLDN's general merchandise manager, says.
For those with wedding plans shaken up by COVID-19, intimate celebrations, relaxed venues, or "I do's" on Zoom have become par for the course. In these instances, Conley says bridal separates are proving more popular. "Many brides today are opting for more casual bridal options, and separates are the perfect, elevated way to achieve that effortless look."
Halfpenny says that tops and skirts she designed in 2005 are still bestsellers today. She's found that brides want to wear them now for a low-key ceremony and styled differently down the line for a bigger celebration. "Our overskirts are perfect for this as they completely transform [a look] and give the bride all the drama she wants, so it's the best of both worlds." Another simplified ensemble Halfpenny suggests for a small ceremony is a slinky slip dress with a tux jacket styled over the shoulder. For a party, whenever it may be, she says, "layers can be added to that same slip — the giant skirts, the veils, and capes. So, our brides feel like they have two completely different yet equally special outfits."
Requests vary for Brock and Vassar, though the duo have softened some of their signature corsetry and evening styles in their latest resort and spring collections. "We still love these kinds of garments, but during the pandemic, we've acknowledged that comfort has become so important," Brock tells TZR. "We're addressing this by using more relaxed fabrications. We're enjoying the evolution of the brand and broadening our offerings to our woman."
Kingham says investment pieces are the most significant among brides currently shopping at MATCHESFASHION. "During the pandemic, we've seen a shift to our customers investing in timeless pieces and making more considered purchases." Many of these styles include versatile separates that can be worn again — currently a top choice for small or civil ceremonies. "A special outfit is still important, and a two-piece suit, whether tailored or more fluid, can feel like a more contemporary option," Kingham says.
Ahead, discover five styles of bridal separates for any wedding event, be it a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or intimate wedding. Whether you prefer a timeless look that will seamlessly integrate into your wardrobe, or want a "for now" option that you'll expand upon down the line, these options will result in a beautiful and modern look for any occasion.