Wrap dresses are back, screams a website. Yes, wear wrap dresses, they are versatile, shouts another. Wear your wrap dresses for spring, as they are back, another cries, all the way in the back, from the cheap seats. You heard it there first and here, a little later: the wrap dress, Diane von Furstenberg’s most lucrative invention is, apparently, celebrating its 45th birthday. Despite the news peg, each year the wrap dresses is rediscovered and heralded as the perfect one-and-done spring ensemble. Maybe it’s because there are only so many types of dresses in the world, or maybe von Furstenberg’s illuminati connections run deep. Regardless, I want nothing to do with it, because the versatility and ease of use of a wrap dress is a lie.
The wrap dress is touted as flattering for every figure, as evidenced by What Not To Wear’s Stacy London, who enthusiastically shoved a variety of poly-blend prints onto the bodies of every woman bigger than a size 8. It’s perfect for “work,” argue fashion writers—the foundation of a professional wardrobe that also includes pants, kitten heels, and button-down blouses. Capsule collections, espoused by decluttering bloggers, love a wrap dress for its “versatility” and its ability to be dressed both UP and DOWN. Reformation, a clothing line designed for sylphlike individuals with bottomless sink pits of money, traffics in wrap dresses that are slit to the snatch and extremely impractical for anything other than climbing in and out of a idling black car.
In truth, wrap dresses are one of those things that work in theory but break down in execution. The lines of a wrap dress are purported to flatter anyone—nipped in at the waist, a slice of exposed decolletage, and the feeling that any gust of wind at any time could reveal your undercarriage to the world at large. They’re flattering, I suppose, but anyone who has put a wrap dress on their body knows the truth: they are impossible. Though the garment comes with its own instructions for wrapping, there is nothing terribly secure about a wrap dress once you are trussed up like a rotisserie chicken. They are the closest we’ll get to wearing a robe in public—the string that goes through the hole is supposed to meet with the other, dangling string and be tied. This loose bond is what holds the wearer into the dress, if the dress you’re wearing is a wrap dress sans that small, metal button on the inside to secure the dress to itself.
For years, I swallowed the truth that wrap dresses are THE dress to put on my body if I wanted to look “slim” and “professional.” Wrap dresses are rude; I have never worn one without feeling like it would expose my breast without consent. If a fashion trend proclaims to be universally flattering on everyone whose body it touches, consider yourself warned: it is a lie that should be soundly ignored.