I am forever reading in fashion magazines that wrap dresses are “universally flattering.” Yet every wrap dress I own and every wrap dress I’ve ever tried has in no way accommodated my boobs. No matter how tightly I tie that bow, the front always pulls wide open so that I’m putting on a show. A little safety pin in the center or a camisole underneath is my usual solution, but both of those options break up the neckline.
However, I recently bought a couple dresses that I think solve the problem—faux wrap dresses! The two brands I ended up with are Green Envelope and Betsey Johnson Pink Patch.
First up is a photo of me in a true wrap dress, a size 4 H&M frock from about six years ago. I love the pattern and the fact that it has long sleeves, but it’s so open in the front that it’s totally inappropriate for professional functions, which is where I usually want to wear it. I usually pin it in the center because the black strip of fabric is double-layered so it doesn’t stretch away from the pin too badly and is barely noticeable.
Now here is the new Green Envelope choice:
This one really has the effect of a wrap dress because you do tie it. But below the bust, it’s just a normal skirt shape. You’re basically only tying a sleeve instead of a whole dress. It also has ruching on the side of the panel next to the tie, so I can pull it really tight if I want and it hides wrinkles or pulling in the fabric. Notice how much less cleavage there is than with the black and white dress. However, it’s still a bit more than I would want in certain settings. But because the fabric isn’t too slippery and the spot where the panels meet on the inside is higher than my natural waistline, I can actually just set the fabric so it’s going across each breast horizontally instead of curving under it. Problem solved!
And here is a shot of the inside of the panel, so you can see where it’s sewn in place. With a true wrap dress, each side has to meet at your natural waist because that’s where the tie belongs. But with a faux wrap, the higher the panel is attached, the less cleavage you’ll have. I’m holding my finger where my waist is located.
Next up is the dress I will be wearing to any Christmas parties I attend this year, from Betsey Johnson’s Pink Patch collection. Pink Patch, while not what I would consider “inexpensive,” has a significantly lower price point than her usual clothes. Plus, if you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a 20% off coupon for your first purchase. I actually got this for 40% off courtesy of a Black Friday coupon!
So you’ll see that there is even less cleavage here than the blue dress. Again, it has ruching across the tummy, which is generally oh-so-flattering. And here, again, is the look when I position the neckline across the breast instead of under it. No cleavage at all!
With this dress, the inner panel is attached even higher up, only a couple inches below my bra. So I feel very covered and comfortable.
And here’s another great thing about the construction of this dress: The inner panel is only attached on the inner corner and under the arm. There is no horizontal seam attaching it to the waist. This way, it really flexes to fit my chest. The fabric is not being pulled one way with my boobs wanting it to go another way.
So based on these two dresses and the true wrap dresses I already own, here are things to look for when shopping for a faux wrap:
1. An inner panel that attaches to the dress close to your bra. The higher up it’s attached, the less cleavage you will have on display.
2. Ruching around the waist. This hides a little belly and camouflages any errant pulling or wrinkles if the bust doesn’t fit quite right.
3. If you can find it, an inner panel that is not attached to the waist horizontally.
4. Though neither of these dresses have them, darts in the front under the bust are always good, especially if you want a little more structure or a more tailored look.