Style

What Happened to the Wrap Dress?

By Amanda Sanders’s estimate, she owns more than 100 Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. She has been collecting the style since the 1990s, after she graduated from college.

Ms. Sanders, 51, liked that she could “throw on a dress and look so polished and put together,” she said during a phone interview on a recent Friday afternoon as she was walking around Saks Fifth Avenue, where she was, in fact, wearing one of her wrap dresses (blue snake print, maxi length). “It almost felt like cheating.”

But in recent years, she has struggled to find the style in stores in New York City, where she lives.

The Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014 fashion show featured wrap dresses, which enjoyed a resurgence from the mid 2000s to mid 2010s, when workplace empowerment again became a cultural focal point. Credit…Getty Images

“Now you have to seek it out,” said Ms. Sanders, a former costume designer who is now an image consultant. “Most of the better designers don’t make wrap dresses. I don’t come across them as often as I should.”

Diane von Furstenberg popularized the design in the 1970s, though she wasn’t the first designer working in the United States to be inspired by early Asian wrap-style closures. In the 1940s, Claire McCardell was also known for her utilitarian “popover” style. In her book “What Shall I Wear?”, she defined “popover” as “something that goes over anything. It is an apron one day, a bathrobe the next, a dinner dress, if necessary with lots of beads.”

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