Wrap Dress Revelations

Before stepping out on my Journey of a Thousand Dresses, I had exactly two experiences with wrap dresses. Neither left me convinced I would be comfortable and look good in that style.

One dress was a potato brown Eileen Fisher dress that came to my mid-shin.

I can hear several of you out there saying, “Potato brown? That’s the problem right there!”

And you’re right. Potato brown is not my color. I don’t know why I thought I could pull it off, but when I bought it I had all kinds of ideas.

The length was pretty awful too for someone of my height. The whole thing made me look and feel like a dreary and droopy monk.

The other experience I had was a red dress that, looking back, probably wasn’t that bad. But in both dresses I felt “exposed”–like I couldn’t cinch them tight enough to keep from flashing the world when a gentle breeze wafted by. I also believed my “pooch,” which is what I call my lower belly, was on full display and that was the last thing I wanted to show off.

Wraps for Everyone

According to Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible, wrap dresses have been around in some form for centuries. They are, he says, perfect for every body type–even ones with pooches.

I do admit that I liked how they looked on others. I used to sigh with envy looking at photos of Diane Von Furstenberg and her cronies revealing her iteration of them in the 70s. She looks so effortlessly chic.

Photo of DVF in 1974 after she unveiled this iconic dress. Photo linked to Refinery29.com.

This Journey of a Thousand dresses was an experiment. It was meant to break open my preconceived notions about casual dresses and test what worked and what didn’t. So, after hemming and hawing and lots of uncertainty, I took a step and gave wrap dresses another try.

wrap dress

All the wrap dresses seen here are Old Navy, except for the blue-patterned one.
I purchased them all secondhand from eBay.

Kitchen Wraps

Before I felt ready to wear these dresses in public, I gave them a spin in the kitchen. (I said I took one step out of my comfort zone–not a mile.) As a regular food writer for Beer Connoisseur Magazine and resident home chef, I spend a lot of time there. I shot these photos while making Chocolate Banana Bran Muffins for Hubby. (Recipe at the bottom of this post.)

It didn’t take long for me to discover how versatile and comfortable these dresses are. They’re so easy to move around in. It’s like wearing a robe, but nicer!

green old navy wrap dress
Wrap dresses are evil? What was I thinking?

The issue of tummy exposure became less of an issue when I tied the belt in the front instead of to the side. Patterns on the dresses helped camouflage that area as well. It still bothers me at times, but on days when I feel particularly poochy, I wear something else.

red old navy wrap dress with blue flats
Holding baking pans in front of my pooch also helps to camouflage it. 🙂

(Wrap) Dressed for the Kitchen in Comfy Shoes

Wrap dresses also go with practically every style of shoe. I can dress them up with heels or slip on a pair of flats for a more casual look. Sneakers are cute with them as well, and when I’m cooking, it’s a must to have comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Not only do I want my feet to stay happy while I cook, gravity can be a devious trickster when it comes to knives. It would really put a damper on the experience if I lost a toe while chopping ingredients.

Flats shown in the photo above are Geox from Nordstrom.
On sale here in a variety of colors.

The yellow sneakers are also Geox from Nordstrom.
They were on sale here last time I checked.

blue wrap dress with yellow sneakers
This dress is the only one that isn’t Old Navy. It hides the pooch with a pattern that tricks the eye, but it also has flouncier skirt that flows away from my body. It also has pockets!

Wraps in the Wind

I still wear these dresses at home more than I do out and about. The few times I attempted to go outside in them in May it was crazy windy. I had to hold the top and the bottom closed with both hands so as not to have a Marilyn Monroe moment. It was sexy when she did it. It would be embarrassing if I did it.

red old navy wrap dress from ebay
Notice how I’m holding the skirt down in this outdoors photo? It was so I didn’t have to censor the photo!

New Friend, No Pants

In my search for solving the wind problem, I made a new Seattle blogger friend named Meg Chaney. Her blog is “Good Morning Seattle: An Urban Love Affair.” As you might guess, she focuses on local Seattle goodness, which includes Seattle fashion. Her writing is fun and happy-making, like eating a popsicle outside on a hot summer afternoon. I can’t help but smile and think the world’s going to be okay when I read her blog.

Meg has a No Pants Policy that starts in April and ends in September. In other words, she wears dresses–i.e., no pants–for five months. That is quite impressive, especially when you consider that Seattle’s spring can be a lot like Seattle’s winter. And, like me, she lives in Seattle proper, so she spends a lot of time walking around town in these dresses.

After I read her No Pants Policy, I wrote her and asked how she deals with the wind-up-the-skirt problem. Her response made me like her even more:

“Because of my body type, I generally need to wear a-line or fit & flare styles…which the wind just LOVES. I flashed all of Lower Queen Anne once – eek! I’ve tried bloomers, bike shorts, boy short undies…and nothing really worked well. So I started thinking about my grandmother’s generation and how THEY would have handled this situation. After berating me for wearing skirts that are too short (‘But Grandma, times have changed, I swear.’), she would have asked why I wasn’t wearing my slip. (‘But Grandma, I’ve never owned a slip in my life… Oh.’)

You gotta love a girl who listens to her grandmother when it comes to solving life’s problems. And she’s right — slips do keep the wind from revealing all!

red old navy dress

I have a half-slip I wear under my dresses now which provides a great deal of peace of mind. But I’m also in the process of test driving these bad boy bloomers to see if I feel even better when stepping out into a windy day.

bloomers in various lengths
Sexy, right?

I know what you’re thinking. Why would you take such a sexy garment like the wrap dress and mess it up with bloomers that look like something Olive Oyl from Popeye would wear? All I can tell you is that the look of fear I have on my face as I walk across town holding onto my dress with both hands is far less flattering than anything I have hidden underneath it. With a slip–or possibly these bloomers–I can walk through town with my head held high…so long as I don’t think about the dowdy bloomers beneath!

Wrapped Up and Ready to Go Out

striped old navy wrap dress with embroidered bomber jacket

After trying all these dresses at home, it was time to go out into the real world. This last dress is one that seems just a little nicer than the others, even though it is also by Old Navy and bought secondhand on eBay. It’s a bold striped dress that reminds me of the original Diane Von Furstenberg dresses. I saved it for last because this is the wrap dress I wear for slightly nicer occasions.

The shoes I wore with this outfit are Clarks. I purchased them last year from Amazon. I’ve loved this style of shoe since I can remember. This particular version is a little too tall for walking long distances, but I wear them when we drive or Uber somewhere.

Although it’s been a little too warm for the jacket I carry it with me in case it gets cool after the sun goes down.

embroidered baseball jacket

The brand is Glamorous and was available last year at Nordstrom in Seattle.
I can’t find it online anymore, but there’s a similar one available here.

Friendship Treasure

The necklace has extra-special significance. It is a gift from a loyal reader and friend–Jude from Minnesota.

necklace

Jude came out to Arizona in February to hang out with the bloggers that attended the meet up I hosted there.

Fashion bloggers doing goat yoga
Most of our blogger gang, plus some extra friends. From left to right: My dear friend and Arizona local Arlene, Suzanne from SuzanneCarillo.com, yours truly with a baby goat(!), Rena from Fine Whatever Blog, Diane from Fashion on the 4th Floor, and Jude in the front!
Fashion bloggers doing goat yoga.
Here’s beautiful Jude doing yoga with a goat on her back!

Jude brought me the necklace as a thank you gift for hosting the meet up. It’s a special piece from Northern Minnesota. I treasure it. Whenever I wear it I think of her and the great memories we made in Arizona together.

Wrap It Up

My previous belief about wrap dresses had some truth. They do require strategic thinking when it comes to feeling confident and secure wearing them in public. But now that I have a plan in place, I wear them all the time. They’re so comfortable and so chic–how can I not?


Chocolate Banana Bran Muffins

Makes 24 muffins

Ingredients:

3 cups All-Bran Original Cereal
2 cups milk or milk substitute
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup egg whites (4 egg whites)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 ripe bananas

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the All-Bran and milk. Set aside to let the milk soak into the bran as you prepare the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

To the All-Bran mixture, add the egg whites and oil. Beat well. Mash or slice the bananas and add them to the bowl. Lastly, stir in the dry ingredients until everything is just combined.

Spray two 12-serving muffin pans with cooking spray or line with baking cups. Portion the muffin mix evenly into muffin cups. (I use an ice cream scoop to make this easier.)

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Once cooled, they can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Or freeze them to eat at a later date.


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  • Yippee–I received this email in my email box–just thought you’d like to know!!
    And I laughed and laughed at your antics and thoughts, Sherry!!
    My mom and I argue about the slip thing all the time. She has a drawer full of ones, and me? I maybe have one or two (that she’s made for me, no less)! But it makes sense especially when it’s windy. There are a number of times here in Denver, that I don’t wear certain items because of the wind. That’s why I do love maxis—no problem with wind and those!!
    Or pencil skirts are safe!!
    But you know, they also have dress extenders now…kinda like slips, but different yet the same. Be on the lookout for a blog post about them the end of this month from the 3 of us!!!
    Anyways—I love that you not only bought 1 wrap dress, but 5 of them!! You must be a scientist at heart!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Hooray!!! I’m so glad you received the post in your inbox!! That’s wonderful news! Thanks for letting me know.

      As for the number of wraps I’ve collected, once I discovered how comfy they were, I had to buy more! And, on eBay, the Old Navy ones are pretty inexpensive, so it didn’t hurt the old pocketbook too much.

      Can’t wait to see how you style your dress extenders! How fun!

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • Fabulous wrap dresses – all of them! And slips are the best. You can buy some pretty dreamy vintage slips, I tell ‘ya, in a whole range of colours. They might be something you’ll want to check out too. I like the bloomers though. And double-sided tape, would that work? Just a smidge. Don’t those beauty pageant people use tape all the time? But I’m glad you’ve found a workaround to the wind causing so much mischief.

    Great to see Jude. What a wonderful necklace!

    And your photos are fantastic!

    • Thank you, Mel! I’m going to see if I can find some silky and fun vintage slips to wear beneath my wraps! Plus, double-sided tape — I didn’t even think about that! Great ideas!

      I’m trying to take my own advice and showcase my real life a little more in my photos. I’m glad you like them!! It really does mean a lot.

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • YIKES!!!! I don’t know what to say Sherry! THANK YOU seems obvious :-)… How sweet of you to include me in this posting! I LOVED giving you the necklace and having learned since then that you spent time living in Minnesota makes it more meaninful to you perhaps? It certainly is wonderful knowing that you enjoy wearing it.
    You are SO photogenic Sherry. Each of your photos is more beautiful than the last. There is a sweet sincerity in your face that is charming as well as lovely.
    I can see how a wrap dress would be like a robe! Dresses really can be quite comfy in the summer heat.
    Having grown up in the 60’s I’m quite familiar with slips. In the late 60’s a type of slip called “petti-pants” came out that worked well under short skirts. We were still wearing garters and stockings in those days!!! Petti-pants were like short culottes made of nylon lingerie fabric. In the 80’s they came out with a “tap pant” . It was really just a shorter version of the petti-pant, but a big fuller in the leg and also made of light fabric. I think tap pants originated during the 20’s with the flapper girls short skirts! Thse names might help if you search for vintage lingerie as Melanie suggested!
    Thanks again for the “feature” you darling woman!!

    • Hi Jude!

      It was a joy to write about you and our time together. I’m so glad you don’t mind that I posted all that. And, you’re right–the necklace has double meaning for me having lived in Minnesota for a while, but I most associate it with you.

      Thank you for the undergarment ideas and keywords to search for! I’ve already been taking peeks online for vintage slips and pettipants and tap pants, thanks to you and Mel and Suzanne! You are a treasure!

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • What a great post Sherry! I think that striped dress is FABULOUS on you! So dramatic!

    You got some great photos in your kitchen which looks like it gets loads of natural lighting.

    I’m with Mel on the vintage slips. I’ve picked up a couple lately and they are so much better than anything modern you will find. Less static cling too although I imagine you don’t get much of that out your way.

    I like the bloomers. I had some but didn’t wear them as often as the slips so I got rid of them recently. If I could find some with a lace bottom like you have I might keep them. I think they are kind of sexy.

    I’m pumped that you have shared your muffin recipe! I’m pinning this to try at a later date : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Thanks, Suzanne! I thought you might approve of the striped dress. It is dramatic. I’m planning on wearing it out to dinner with visiting friends this weekend.

      I’m going to take your and Mel’s advice and start looking for vintage slips. I love the idea of those.

      I bought those bloomers/pettipants with the lace detail from Underworks. They’re made here in the US, which is unusual these days. If you want to check them out, here’s a link:

      http://www.underworks.com/

      Let me know what you think of those muffins! I use Splenda instead of sugar which allows Hubby to have 3 a day for breakfast, along with yogurt and fruit.

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • Oh, I had the same with DVF. A cople of months ago I wrote about wrapdresses and contributed it to her. What a beautiful woman. And still is! Your wrapdresses are fabulous! The green one is my favorite, stunning color and print!

    • As they say, Nancy, great minds think alike! Ha ha! We must be on the same wavelength.

      DVF is such a classic beauty. One day I hope to own a real vintage DVF wrap dress.

      Thank you for your kind comments!!

      – Sherry

  • I love the Journey of a Thousand Dresses posts! I can’t believe the bold stripe dress is from Old Navy. Is the patterned blue dress available for purchase now? It looks great on you and I need some new summer dresses 🙂

    • Hi Margaret!

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying these posts! Your words are so encouraging as I continue on to share this experience.

      I got the patterned blue dress on eBay. The brand is Hourglass Lilly. I’m not sure what size you’re looking for, but if you click the link below, it’ll take you to a search of Hourglass Lilly wrap dresses available on eBay!

      https://goo.gl/TaQXr9

      Thanks again for your kind comment! I’ll be back soon with more from my Journey of a Thousand Dresses. 🙂

      – Sherry

  • You have such a wonderful way of trying new things. You jump in with both feet! I love that, partly because look at the wonderful results and partly because I personally am a chicken! Ha, ha. All of these dresses look great on you and you don’t have a big enough pooch to even notice! Great post lovely lady! – Amy
    http://stylingrannymama.com/

    • Hi Amy!

      Thank you for your encouraging words! I think you explore and experiment on your blog too! It is, after all, your blog that takes the Pantone colors of the year and puts them in action with different outfits. Even when those color combinations make you a little nervous, you do it. So, we are kindred spirits in this journey of style-play-and-discovery. 🙂 And I’m glad we’re on the same path.

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • I think you look fab in all four wraps, but the red one is my favourite on you.

    You talked about how wrap dresses can flap open in a breeze, but for me it’s always been the bodice that strikes fear. I never seem to be able to get the drape quite right on a wrap dress. And…if I even come close, it never stays put, so I’m always fiddling with it. Love the look of them, but sadly not for me.

    I also have this ‘thing’ about slips. Full slips drive me crazy…too constrictive. Half slips drive me crazy…they never seem to move in the same direction as the dress or skirt I’m wearing. Yep…I’m all about a lined dress, no slip required. Of course, that in no way addresses the flash potential. Hmmmm….maybe I should see it as potential, LOL.