Monday, 16 July 2012

Wrap-style Dresses

A Provocative Choice

Closet Content Analysis: the Wrap Dress

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED          NEW

Often recommended for hour-glass figures, the wrap dress is a forgiving dress style. However, cinched at the waist with a strategically revealing slit when you sit and cross your legs and a v-neck that enhances the bosom, the wrap dress can be very provocative. Even the thought of it wrapped around your body rather than zipped or buttoned up, leads to a very glamorous look embellished with seductive thoughts. 

Diane von Furstenberg, 1970s; Photo Source:
NICE: Diane Von Furstenberg's the Gwyneth dress, a short sleeve wrap that has a separate camisole under the upper portion of the dress, appears to be designed to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.  

Diane von Furstenberg is recognized as “inventing” the contemporary wrap dress in 1972 by many fashion sources. Although, one source suggested that the concept may have originated with American designer Claire McCardell and her “pop-over dress”, which was a wrap around house dress designed in 1942.

The timeless quality of this photo of Diane von Furstenberg in the 1970s reveals the classic design of the wrap dress.

I am a fan of Diane Von Furstenberg and if you are, you will like the 2008 interview, "Diane von Furstenberg On Wrap Dresses And The Joys Of Aging Gracefully", conducted by Amanda Christine Miller for Huntington Post.

I design for the woman who loves being a woman. 
- Diane Von Furstenberg     

NO THANKS: Sarah, a commenter on another blog said, “I will not be seen in a wrap dress in public anytime soon!” She did not elaborate on what she found so reprehensible about the wrap dress but her sentiment was clearly articulated. 

I don't know if Sarah was referring to this but the wrap dress does have the potential for wardrobe malfunctions on the bodice and the skirt. If you like the style but are self-conscious about this potentiality, choose the faux wrap dress that pulls on over your head and has a decorative tie.

Faux wrap dress hanging in my French garden.
I have a faux wrap dress in my French closet that I left here in 2010 (it is a Frank Lyman dress, made in Canada). It is easy to wear since you just pull it over your head. I did tack up the neckline because I felt it was too revealing. I can't recall the exact year I bought it but the fabric pattern may suggest 2008 or 2009. My life is very casual in the French town of 10,000 and even though the pattern is passé, I did wear it once in May, 2012. My closets in Canada and France are presently devoid of a wrap-style dress.  

NOTE-WORTHY 1: The dress in the display window somewhere in Lyon, France haunts me to this day. This is definitely a "would have, could have and should have" dress from past shopping experiences. 

NOTE-WORTHY 2: With a number of women in my acquaintance having babies, I have been researching the clothing angle and it has been suggested on a couple of maternity posts on other blogs that the wrap-style dress is a perfect transition dress. It appears so but I would suggest, only with a broad overlap. Because the dress is made of three panels, the front two must be wide enough to allow pregnancy growth without fear of any unexpected fallout. Only the small sized, non-pregnant, women would not have to worry about this. 

NEED: I have always loved the look of the wrap-style dresses, but I must say I have never owned many. In fact, there is perhaps only one about which I have a vague memory. With the summer sales on, I will look for a linen one, just like the one in the Lyon store window.

Buying Tips for the Wrap-style Dress: 

Check for wardrobe malfunctions: sit, stand, and bend over to see if the top gapes open and the skirt splits at the crossover for a major reveal. 

Before even trying one on, check the front panel so that it provides a substantial enough overlap to allow for some slide and to prevent the skirt from dividing at the split completely.

And if you don't care to spend so much time worrying about possible wardrobe malfunctions, the faux wrap dress has all the flattering qualities without the concerns.


  1. Great post! I really like the look of these and when I'm shopping for a dress it's one style that I've always been drawn to. Alas, I haven't found one yet that I like enough to purchase. I'm sure I'll keep looking...

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  6. I received an email from my friend A.M. regarding the history of the "wrap dress" and I thought I would share it here as a comment.

    "And I remember the wrap dress well. Had a few way back when! I remember my mom wearing the wrap house dress also. If it was short, she wore it as an apron, or clothing cover up while cooking. The longer one was more of a house dress. I have seen photos of J.R.M.'s grandmother wearing the wrap house dress as well. Dianne brought the modern version to the fore, but I think that other woman may have beaten her to the punch."


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