What could be easier than this: a garment with no buttons and no buttonholes, secured by sashes which can be forgiving to your waistline and still be flattering? Diane Von Furstenberg immortalized the “wrap dress” in the early 1970s; its many variations became available to home dressmakers through the Vogue Patterns Designer series, and those original patterns now command significant prices on eBay and Etsy.
But – what came before Von Furstenberg’s classic dress? Many of us remember our “wraparound” skirts from the ‘60s and ‘70s – some were “reversible”, some were made of a lightweight sailcloth type of fabric and were kind of stiff, some were gathered, and some were A-line. Towards the late ‘60s, according to The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion (3rd Edition, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, 2010), the term “wraparound” was shortened to just “wrap” – and that is the term we know and use today. The illustration in this book surely is based on DVF’s classic wrap dress.
One of Diane Von Furstenberg’s famous statements is “I design for the woman who loves being a woman.” (Think dresses!) In The Saint James Fashion Encyclopedia (Richard Martin, author; Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, 1997), she is quoted: “…I believe in marrying fashion and function – chic style and easy comfort, maximum impact and minimum fuss.” It’s easy to see that she practiced what she preached (and still does…) when you look at this Vogue pattern:
About the time I purchased this pattern on Etsy, I saw this fabric on Mood Fabric’s website:
The bright, happy design reminded me of some of the original DVF-designed fabric, although this fabric is actually by Oscar De La Renta. No, it wasn’t a stretchable knit which the pattern stipulated, but it was a stretch fabric, so I took a gamble and ordered it with my DVF pattern in mind.
I actually liked the heavier weight of this fabric (I’ve never been a fan of sewing jersey knits), but I had to be extra diligent to minimize bulky seams on the interior of the dress. Instead of self pockets, I made the pockets out of some leftover white silk lining fabric from my raincoat.
Instead of turning under edges on the facings, I double-stitched and pinked the edges, and used stretchable hem tape for the hem. It all seemed to work and here is the finished dress:
I was thrilled to get that original label with my pattern – and here is the finishing touch for my DVF wrap dress:
Feminine, timeless, versatile: her dresses are more than fashion – they are enduring style.