The faux-wrap dress

Ahhh, wrap dresses. Seemingly the best friend of every fashion blogger or advice columnist, and simultaneously the worst enemy of every woman who’s tried to put them into practice.

Since the wrap dress was invented by designer Diane von Furstenberg in the 1970s, the wrap dress has inspired a love-it-or-hate-it controversy. More than four decades later, the style has endured — and so have the practical complaints associated with it. How do you keep it closed? How do you prevent the front from gaping? How can you stop it from clinging? Does it look sophisticated and chic? Or dowdy and matronly?

I admit I’ve never been much of a fan of wrap dresses. Every article I’ve ever read giving advice to pear-shaped women has suggested them. Every time I’ve tried to carry one off, I’ve just looked ridiculous. But I’m stubborn, so when I saw this petite faux-wrap dress by INC International Concepts on sale at the Bay this summer, I decided to give it a try.

What I like

  • A faux-wrap is a little easier to pull off than a true wrap dress. It stays closed, and can be pulled on and off just like a regular dress.
  • The flutter cap sleeves are great for giving a little extra presence to my narrow shoulders and balancing out my pear shaped silhouette. I prefer this look to a sleeveless dress.
  • The length is great, coming to about two inches above my knee. So many supposed petite dresses are still too long, dropping below the knee and making me look matronly or dumpy. This shorter length elongates my legs and works much better on me.

 What I don’t like

  • The unlined polyester-spandex fabric is fairly stretchy and clingy. The dress flutters out at the hips so it’s not too bad, but it still has a bad habit of showing some extra bumps that I normally try and hide, plus the line of my camisole is visible no matter what I do to hide it.
  • Despite being a faux-wrap, the dress still gapes open at the top, forcing me to layer a camisole underneath it to prevent an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. This is a problem for many pear-shaped women with narrow shoulders; if your bottom half is bigger than your top half, then dresses are going to bag and sag at the top. A simple layering tank works fine to keep this dress PG, but it does make it a bit more complicated to wear than it ought to be. Plus, no matter how thin a camisole I choose, it still ends up riding up and ruining the line of the dress at some point during the day.
  • The waist belt looks frilly and fussy if I tie it in a bow, and adds too much volume to the front or back of the dress. I’ve compromised by tying it on the side and just letting it hang down, but it still bugs me a bit.

The verdict

Surprisingly, this one gets a qualified thumbs-up. It’s gotten a moderate amount of wear over the past couple of months, mostly to the office. It’s not my favourite dress in my wardrobe, but with a camisole underneath, I can pull it off. I’m not sure that it’s converted me on wrap dresses, but it’s a nice option when I want to change things up a bit.

Dress: INC from The Bay, size PS, on sale for $83.30
Camisole: Old Navy, size XSP, $10
Sandals: jbloom, size 6, $69

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