Friday, April 2, 2010

How wearable is the wrap dress, really?

Blue Cotton Wrap Dress (Target)
Gold Swing Jacket (New York & Company)
Leather Boots (Steve Madden)

Yesterday was unseasonably warm for the beginning of April, and at the Admissions Office, it was also our busiest tour day of the year.  So I needed a professionally functional* outfit which would also ventilate me during the trek across campus for afternoon classes.  After consulting my closet on these concerns of outdoor temperature and professional visibility, I arrived at this combination: a lightweight wrap dress and a swing jacket.  The boots? They contributed an element of fun and prevented pumps-related blisters.

The jacket served its purpose well enough during the work day, and, as expected, I found myself shedding it mid-way through the afternoon stroll across the campus lawn.  The dress also performed well, a pleasant surprise given that yesterday marked my first time wearing it.  I appreciated its length - the hem hits just above the knee - and the fact that the wrap ties remained secure throughout the day.  (This is a recurring tiff between me and wrap dresses; despite my best knotting efforts, the ties devise a way to loosen themselves.)  All in all, I was pleased with the selection.

I'm wondering, though, do any of you question the perceived wearability of the wrap dress?  I do.  Critics praise the garment's ability to convey both modesty and style savvy, but I find that it, in fact, challenges both.  On the modesty front, I found myself checking the dress' upper panel every ten seconds to ensure that it had not gaped open and inadvertently exposed my undergarments.  Same story with the lower panels, especially on windy afternoons like today.  On the style front, and increasing the risk of the aforementioned scandal(!), the fabric constantly shifts.  To me, a garment that fails to stay in place during use does not make the wearer appear well-assembled.  I tried donning a camisole and a faux tank underneath the dress, but this move caused it to look bulky.  To me, these characteristics detract from the versatility of the dress.

I'm generally pleased with this look, even with this particular dress.  Perhaps I could use some tips for wearing it in the future.

*Based on the above ensemble, my definition of "professional attire" likely seems questionable, so let me clarify.  Our staff typically wears business suits and the like for weekend and large-scale recruitment events.  However, during regularly scheduled weekday tours, which are staffed by student guides on break between academic classes, the expectations for attire are more lenient.  Stay tuned for a future post about my recruitment event wardrobe.

  • What's your secret for wearing wrap dresses effortlessly?
  • How do you transition your outfits from workday professional to after-hours casual?


Scholar Style Guide said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who is perpetually afraid that a wrap dress might un-wrap!

I cannot wear one without a cami underneath. I believe my inability to separate from the cami comes from years of teaching high school students, when the cami felt like an absolute necessity given my "audience." I think I tend to pick wrap dresses that I know will look decent with a cami underneath as a result.

I've also experimented with pinning the skirt shut from the inside. It looks like that might be an option with this dress, given the ruffle detail at the bottom.


Margaret said...

LOVe reading your posts :)
great way of approaching an outfit
I don't think I own a wrap dress :O shock horror - must fix this! :)
love your blog
great posts!
stop by some time xx

Scholar Style Guide said...

Loved reading this, especially after seeing how great you looked in person :)

I loooove the color of your jacket, and I like the jaunty boots.

I too have problems with wrap dresses, and I'm so glad that you addressed it. I feel like the fashion world portrays the wrap dress as a great option for all women, which I think it can be, but people seldom address the fundamental issues of wearing one.

I think in general that one of the problems with writing about and dealing with fashion is that sometimes people ignore the complexities and naunces of fashion. It's not just "worst dressed" or "best dressed." There's a lot in-between. Also, there are a lot of problems in the actual wearing of garments, like the supposedly effortless wrap dress, that I think some people pretend don't exist.

Basically, I'm just happy that we can use this blog as a way to directly tackle and address these issues.


Charissa said...

i have no help to offer on the wrap dress...being a bigger busted woman, they often scare me away :)
you looked great, per usual.
i cannot WAIT to hear your thoughts on recruitment event attire. I will be happy to add some thoughts, AM.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks, guys!

Charissa, care to send us a post on your go-to admissions attire? We welcome submissions! Email me, yo.