Thanks for the Wrap Dress DVF, But It’s Hardly Liberating

Is the wrap dress really that flattering and easy to wear?

So iconic is designer Diane von Fürstenberg’s famed wrap dress, it holds a place in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Introduced in 1972 by von Fürstenberg, the wrap dress achieved peak popularity in the mid to late 1970s. The Met summarizes: “Its fundamental form was already deeply embedded in the American designer sportswear tradition; a new woman designer translated the style into 1970s fabrics and colors, generally brighter, bolder, and more synthetic (and stretchy) than the early examples to which the silhouette and design principle are indebted.”

A DVF wrap dress was the first designer piece Shannon Lorraine, owner of New York sustainable designer showroom FoundFuture, aspired to own. “It felt like a coming of age thing, silly but true. Plus, if your boobs fall out a bit, it’s just part of the sexy allure of the dress,” says Lorraine.

Lorraine is not alone in her enduring love for the dress.

“The popular design, which began a women’s fashion trend due to its revolutionary versatility, is notable for its dual status as comfortable business wear and elegant evening dress,” reads one biography. “Suitable for the changing roles of busy urban women in the 70s, the dress became a sensation and Fürstenberg sold over five million of them before market saturation and over-exposure killed its popularity while new trends took over the 80s.”

DVF Wrap dress at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, 1975–76

I say, while the versatile design has been credited as a symbol of the ’70s women’s liberation movement, and touted as a dress that looks amazing on any body type, the wrap dress actually has many faults and challenges. Warning: we’re about to commit fashion blasphemy.

As a former fashion boutique owner and rep for many sustainable designers over the years, I have observed that while the shape can work with many different body types, accentuating the waist and cleavage, it  can also be problematic for those same reasons. What if you have too much or too little of both? Too little decolletage and the neckline falls open to show your bra, too much and depending on your age, too much is either liable to get you marked with the dreaded c-word (that’s cougar), or, well, undeniably going to show your age.

As for the silhouette, slight frames can get lost in it, appearing to be all elbows and knees. Bigger girls might be glad for the flattering coverage of the legs a miniskirt can’t offer, but in emphasizing the waist, the wrap dress also puts the belly on full display. If you’ve had kids and the pooch that comes with them, you’ll be reaching for your Spanx girdle to look good in the wrap.

Oh, but there’s more. The other flawed feature of the wrap dress is the skirt. Given the slightest breeze, the wrapped opening whisks apart to show the world panties, control top hose, Spanx or maybe, that you simply like to go commando. (Hardly a revolutionary or liberating way to show the world that you’re tough as nails.)

Ask all your friends if they have a wrap dress and see if they actually wear it. I bet you they will all have a reason why they do not.

Mountains of the Moon’s Audrey Wrap

The wrap dress winner for me and my former boutique customers is this organic cotton, faux wrap called the Audrey Dress from Mountains of the Moon. The dress features a cut on the bias skirt that won’t blow open and a faux wrap top. The 3/4 sleeves also make this a great choice for women who dislike their upper arms.

But perhaps you’re a wrap-a-holic who cares little for this slanderous DVF talk.

For you, I offer the Wrap Shop at DVF and these sustainable takes on the original:

Nixxi’s Faux Wrap Dress

Lina Rennell Wrap Dress

Kelly B Acacia Stripe Faux Wrap Dress

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.