In taking on a project all about wrap dresses, I would be remiss to overlook the garment’s origins. After a bit of research, I’ve chosen some beautiful patterns that I believe represent the history of the wrap dress, while remaining modern enough for everyday wear. But first, a little history.
Housedress to High Street: A (very) Short History
The first iterations of the wrap dress to become popular were the “Hooverettes” in the 1930’s and the “Popovers” in the 1940’s. The functionality of these dresses is what made them so well loved, particularly among housewives who utilized them for the ease of wear and versatility. They could be thrown on as an appropriate day dress, apron or coverall for house and garden work, or even as a light summer coat.
The wrap dresses of 1950’s and 1960’s explored new ways to wrap. Back wraps with fuller skirts were introduced in the fifties. In the sixties, shift style wraps and A-line Jiffy dresses were popularized.
In the early 1970’s Diane von Furstenberg introduced the famous slinky jersey wrap dress that solidified her name and the wrap dress in fashion history. By the mid-seventies the wrap closure manifested throughout other trends like maxi dresses, extra wide collars and disco styles.
While the jersey DVF steadily remained in circulation into the new millennium, the woven styles have seen an epic resurgence in the last few years.
Pattern Plans: Exploring the 1930’s, 1940’s & 1970’s
I felt it was appropriate to go back to the start and pay homage to the origins of the wrap by first making a version of the 1930’s Hooverette. I’ve then chosen a 1940’s style day dress and a 1970’s inspired midi length dress.
For this project I wanted all my patterns to be accessible – no out of print, one of a kind, only available on Ebay business – and I wanted them to be wearable. While there may be a more era-appropriate pattern out there, each pattern I’ve chosen is available for purchase, will be wearable for day to day, and will still highlight the era by which it was inspired.
Mrs. Depew Hooverette Dress
The Hooverette dress by Mrs. Depew Patterns is a vintage reproduction pattern with three collar and sleeve variations. In accordance with classic 1930’s shaping, the dress is pretty much a rectangle, with just a shoulder dart and tie belt for shaping.
Because of the boxy shaping, I’ve opted for this ultra drapey viscose (Stoffen Hemmers), even though viscose/rayon wasn’t readily available until the 1940’s. I was also inspired by the beach pajamas of the 1930’s and decided to pair my dotty blue fabric with a solid white for the collar and the pocket trim for some beachy sailor vibes.
Sew Over It 1940’s Wrap Dress
I have been so excited to make this pattern. The 1940’s Wrap Dress been in my stash for over a year now, but I’ve been a bit intimidated about the fitting. It’s a beautiful pattern with some really lovely details that honor the essence of 1940’s style while remaining wearable (no giant, pointy shoulders, yay!).
I initially ordered this viscose from Stoff & Stil, but I may end up purchasing something else. I loved this fabric for it’s design and drape. I think the blue, white and black geometric print is really reminiscent of the 1940’s. However, it’s a lighter weight than I expected. I’m having some doubts if it’s structured enough to hold the pleats, darts and gathers.
How to Do Fashion no. 12 Aalborg Dress
I was in love with this dress the minute I saw it. The Aalborg is the perfect balance elegance and over-the-top glam – just like the 1970’s! I was looking for a wrap pattern with great bishop sleeves and a slimmer skirt and this one is perfect! I’m not sure if I’ll do the collar or not. If I have enough fabric left, I’d like to add a gathered ruffle to the hem to add to the 1970’s prairie dress vibe.
I came across this mustard medallion viscose at the Lapjesmarkt last month and thought it was perfect for a 1970’s dress. Though it’s a viscose, it has a little more body to it than others that I’ve worked with before. I’m hoping that makes it a little easier to handle.
*I should note that a DVF inspired jersey wrap dress would better represent the 1970’s, I’m doing a whole series on the knit wrap dress later in the year.
There were so many vintage inspired wrap patterns I wanted to make, but I had to pick just three. Here are some other beauties I loved.
Pauline Alice’s Lliria dress is such a gorgeous interpretation of the 1940’s popover dress. The waistband and cuff details are so pretty and beautifully contrast the gathering of the sleeves, bodice and skirt.
The Swirl Dress from Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses is a 1950’s style back-wrap. I think it’s just dreamy. It looks so fun to wear and simple to sew.
Another back-wrap, the Simplicity 8049 is an elegant 1960’s shift dress. I love the clean shape with the cowl-like draping at the neck and the shoulder bow detail.
I’m so excited to get working on these! I’ll be posting a full pattern review of each pattern, starting with the Hooverette at the end of this month. Stay tuned!