There is a well known misconception that Diane von Furstenberg invented the wrap dress. DvF’s dresses started to appear in the early 70’s, but there had already been a version of what we now know as the wrap dress in 1930’s by Elsa Schaiparelli and 1940’s by Clare McCardell. Here’s the Schaiparelli wrap – very elegant and something I may try to re-create myself as a ball gown.
The difference between these early dresses and DvF’s is the fabric type and the length. DvF favours knee length and the fabric is famously figure-hugging jersey. I am lucky enough to own a DvF in a vintage pattern. It is 100% silk jersey and I absolutely love wearing it. Here I am at an event we exhibited at back in 2011 with longer hair! I looked long and hard before I decided upon this dress. I don’t often buy designer because I think there is a great variety of garments available without having to take out a small mortgage to buy them! Don’t get me wrong, I love them and really enjoy looking at them, finding out about them and using them as inspiration, but I want a hard wearing day-to-day wardrobe, rather than one full of designer pieces. So I really took my time selecting this dress. I do absolutely love it and it has really lasted well. I think cost-per-wear must be down to pence by now! Very sadly it has started to rot under the arms, probably from deodorant, so I am looking into ways of fixing that as the rest of the dress is still in perfect condition. Let me know if you have any ideas!
Back to DvF – she attributes her divorce to the design of the wrap dress. It was apparently created in the spirit of allowing women to enjoy their sexual freedom. I guess that must be the clingy form-hugging jersey. She originally created it as a wrap top and separate skirt and was quite astounded by the reaction when she put the two together and created a dress.
The dress has even been credited with being the symbol of women’s liberation in the 70’s – quite a claim.
The style of the wrap is perfect for the ‘hourglass’ figure. It’s for the woman who has a slim waist compared to hips. It doesn’t work for the ‘straight’ body shape, where there is little or no difference between the waist and the hips. The wrap creates a focal point at the waist, emphasising the slimmest part of the body. It also creates a lovely ‘v’ at the neck. If a round neck suits you better, you can always add a camisole underneath, which also creates the extra security of a higher neckline. Worn without a camisole, it can sometimes expose more flesh than you would like. (Depending upon the cut of the dress). This may be acceptable for a night out, but for work it is advisable to err on the side of caution.
It comes in many different fabrics, they all behave differently, so pick wisely. There are short and long sleeved versions and they vary in length from a shorter, tunic style to floor length as in the Schaiparelli version above. There is also a version with a collar, or the collarless version above.
Whichever your preference, there will be wrap dress to suit your taste.
Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA – Managing Director, First Impressions
Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI) She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.
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