Cheryl Shops Fall Shopping Guide: Bandage Dresses

There is no question that Herve Leger (the man) is an incredibly talented, if not visionary, designer. In the '80s and '90s, his skintight bandage dresses showcased their wearers' aerobicized bodies, but also sculpted and highlighted them in a sexy yet flattering way, thanks to the dresses' tightly knit bandage construction. The grunge years were not kind to Leger, however, and Max Azria eventually bought his company in the late '90s. Azria himself took over as designer when the line relaunched in 2007, and while many in the fashion industry (myself included) weren't exactly holding their breath, Azria has managed to totally revive the house of Leger, and each runway collection of his improves upon the last, exploring new ways to interpret the iconic shape. The bandage dress is definitely having a moment right now, and when it comes to your upcoming holiday party-season dress, there's no better choice.

If you're going to invest in a bandage dress, you might as well go for the real thing. Shopbop has a great selection of Herve Leger dresses, but my favorite is the angled bandage cocktail dress, which, due to the diagonal construction of the panels, will have a very flattering effect on a wide range of women, emphasizing the positive aspects of one's figure. Think of it as gorgeous scaffolding for your body.

Of course, it's always interesting seeing how other designers interpret such an iconic look. Alexander Wang's lace bandage dress isn't quite as skintight as something you'd expect from the master of downtown-sexy dressing, but with its lace overlay and draped effect in the shoulder, it's even, dare I say, a bit elegant.

Even more forgiving to the figure is Preen's power bandage dress. It still retains the banded effect in the bodice--and the back has a very sexy cutout detail--but the peplum skirt skims the hips to hide a multitude of flaws.

I am a firm believer that one can never have too many little black dresses, and thus you can't really go wrong with the little black bandage dress. This Juicy Couture bandeau dress is definitely little, and it must stay up by some feat of engineering. The exposed back zipper keeps it interesting, and the price is quite nice too.

This Leifsdottir dress calls itself bandage; if we were getting picky, I'd probably qualify this as ruched. But nevertheless, this style of bandage dress--with asymmetrical, ruched panels--was all over the spring runways, so it's a chance to jump on a trend a few months early. I also like that it has sleeves, which are almost essential when going to parties in the dead of winter.

Of course, the nice thing about Max Azria owning Herve Leger is that the designs trickle down to Azria's other (i.e. more affordable) labels. Take this blouson dress for example: It has a very BCBG-esque billowy top, but a signature Leger banded skirt, giving it the best of both worlds. If you wear it under a boyfriend jacket, you might even be able to get away with wearing this to work.

Onto the bargains, but I suggest approaching these only if you have an incredible body and/or keen knowledge of Spanx, as none of these will likely be as well constructed as the looks above. Nevertheless, this colorblock dress from Arden B is probably the most forgiving of the three picks, and it takes a cue from the BCBG look above, with its two-in-one look. This is a pretty basic look, but it would be great for layering, and could benefit from some statement jewelry.

The copy for this Wet Seal dress claims one can wear it during the day with a cardigan. I would discourage that. I mean, look at it.

Finally, this Guess miter bandage dress is a best-seller, and you can see why. The long sleeves make it seem almost demure; the wide V-neckline and empire waist are flattering (making the shoulders seem wider makes your hips look smaller); and Guess clothes are generally pretty well made. Again, Spanx are likely in order, but since this dress is only $138, you'll likely have some money left over for the shapewear department.

1 comment

Jaime @ laviejaime said...

Great selection! I've had my eye on one of these dresses :)