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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Buying a Bandage Dress

Last updated on : June 09 2017

everything about bandage dresses

Bandage dresses are the life of The Kewl Shop. Everything you ever wanted to know about buying and styling a bandage dress has been compiled here. Whether it's their history, how they are made, or how to wear one - this article covers it all.

What is a bandage dress?

Bandage dresses are made from a blend of rayon, nylon and spandex, a composite material similar to that used in foundation garments or shape wear. They are designed to fit like a second skin, shaping your body with their stretch and thickness. In most dresses the material is woven into distinct layers that look a little like bandages, and this is where the name comes from.  

types of bandage dress

We see a variety of designer bandage gowns that easily reach $2000 and lower quality varieties that barely scratch the surface at $30. The former will last a lifetime and the latter barely a few hours.

A bandage dress should have the following characteristics to meet the standards of good quality. 

  • Fabric. A blend of rayon, nylon and spandex. Dresses made from polyester or other fabrics are not bandage dresses. 
  • Durability. Your dress should feel sturdy in it's construction and have a minimum weight close to 2 lbs for a standard short sleeve or sleeveless fit. 
  • Sheen. A subtle shine or gloss should be visible on the fabric. This comes from the silk like qualities of rayon.
  • Stretch: The dress should easily stretch 3 to 4 inches across your body and even at fuller stretch should not be see through at all. 
  • Comfort. Although tight fitting your dress should be very comfortable to wear, just like a second skin. 

History and trends of the bandage dress

The history of bandage dresses follows the evolution of women and their roles within society.

Form fitting dresses made their first appearance in 1986 in a collection released by renowned fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, the “King of Cling”. During the 1990s, designer Herve Leger introduced the bandage dresses we know today to the mainstream. 

Silhouette styles originally emerged in the 1960s and continued to pop up on runways throughout the 1970s. Daringly, they traced the curves of a woman and removed the need for petticoats and other cumbersome undergarments. These styles proved to be sensible, visually stimulating, and easier to wear. By the time Alaia released his “Cling Collection” the fashion world was ready and eager to embrace it.

We continue to witness the evolution of bandage dresses. For many they are closet staples, are worn to a variety of events, and continue to provide confidence to their wearer, including a host of celebrities.  

bandage dress trends

How are bandage dresses made?

Manufactures of bandage dresses vary in size and production. Dressmakers can produce anywhere between 500 to over 40,000 dresses per month. These factories have two major departments or areas of production. Looms where the dress material is knitted and sewing where they are sewn together into final dress designs. 

In between these processes there is the washing and drying of the newly knitted material and the cutting of the material into pattern based sizes. Afterwards dresses go through a finishing stage where they are inspected, loose ends removed and ironed, and finally labels attached.

Material is not generic to all dresses. Colors and material designs are knitted in quantity for a single batch of dresses at a time. As a result one cannot by generic bandage material as it is always made with a particular dress design in mind.  

Tips for buying a bandage dress

It is reasonably simple to do price comparisons between bandage dress retailers and online stores. There are hundreds of places offering bandage dresses at a variety of price points. Here's a checklist of what to consider when purchasing a bandage dress today: 

  • Fabric: Cheap bandage dresses are almost always made from polyester. High quality bandage dresses are made with a blend of rayon, nylon, and spandex. Rayon is a strong and sturdy fabric that is tear and snag resistant. It is blended with spandex and nylon for a fabric that clings to your body like a second skin. Although high quality dresses are strong enough to double as a shape wear, they are also comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. Your standard good quality bandage dress should weigh in at very close to 2 lbs.  
  • Quality: Before committing to a retailer, read their customer reviews. Visit their social media pages to learn more about their brand and their levels of customer satisfaction. Find out what people are saying. Truly satisfied customers always share their excitement and often leave feedback. 
  • Free Shipping: When looking for a reputable bandage dress retailer consider the store's shipping options. Are there hidden costs still to come at or after checkout? Remember, that headline prices often do not include the cost of shipping. Choose a store that offers free shipping.
  • Return Policies: This is very important because some return policies are fair and others are a headache. A cheap dress that can’t be returned for something as simple as size is worth far less than a more expensive dress that can be returned for credit or refund. A simple way to compare return policies is to look at the period a retailer stipulates a return must be made in. The shorter this period the stricter and less valuable the return policy usually is. Try to go for one longer than 30 days.
  • Customer Service: Are there telephone numbers, live chat, or other means of contact clearly visible on the web site? If you have a problem with your order can you speak to a human being? 

Want to know how much you should pay for your bandage dress? Learn more here.

wear a bandage dress casually

How to care for your bandage dress

We recommend that you first try to spot clean your dress and only dry clean when necessary. To spot clean, wash your bandage dress gently in cold water either entirely or just the spots that require cleaning. A gentle detergent can be used. Avoid overly agitated, pulling, or bunching your dress as you wash it. Lay it flat on a drying rack or a towel, to ensure it keeps its shape.

Read our step by step article for a more in depth look at how to care for your bandage dress.  

What is a foil weave bandage dress?

A process applied to finished bandage dress material that gives the dress more weight and a textured shiny pattern. Foil weave dresses are heavier than their standard counterparts and have a very durable thin plastic like finish on which a pattern is then printed. Examples in the image below.  

foil weave bandage dress

Who is Herve Leger?

Herve Leger, the brand, was founded in 1985 by fashion designer Hervé Peugnet. It is credited with bringing bandage dresses to the mainstream and pioneering the use of materials used in foundation type garments to make the dress. Herve Leger is now owned by BCBG Max Azria, who actively markets bandage dresses under the Herve Leger brand with their own design direction.

A step back in time reveals that Hervé Peugnet worked under a man named Azzedine Alaia who was the original innovator of fitted and clinging dresses. In fact the press dubbed him King of Cling for his collections that often featured bicycle shorts and miniskirts.  

What is a jacquard weave bandage dress?  

A jacquard dress has it's pattern embedded into the weave as opposed to printed on the fabric itself. This type of weave is complex and takes time to set up on the loom, requiring experience and knowledge. The complexity of the weave results in a much longer weave time than more simple patterns and so dresses made with a jacquard weaves are usually more expensive.

See examples in the image below. 

jacquard weave bandage dress

What is an ombre bandage dress? 

An ombre dress has gradient coloring. The dress features an underlying color that fades into complimentary lighter colors, orange to yellow to white or red to pink to white as examples. Wearers can find accessorizing this dress to be fun and funky or simple and subtle. 

ombre bandage dress

Handling returns for a bandage dress

Factories will accept the return of dresses only under very limited circumstances, wholesalers usually only accept returns for quality or craftsmanship issues. Retailers are almost always required to accept returns for both quality and craftsmanship issues as well as sizing and fit concerns.

A worthy retailer will accept returns under almost all circumstances and provide their customers with ample time to complete a return. However almost universally, bandage dress retailers try to restrict the amount of returns they suffer by reducing the time required for a customer to make a return. Typically this period is around 7 to 14 days.It is very rare for a retailer in the bandage dress market to offer anything as long as 60 days.

In order to stay informed always review the return policies of retailers before you make a purchase.

Why do bandage dresses have a sheen and shine?

The sheen in a bandage dress comes mainly from its rayon composition. Rayon has silk like qualities and provides a very desirable smooth and soft sheen to the dress. A high quality bandage dress will always have a subtle shine to it. Low quality dresses will often feature flat colors that fail to give the wearer the shine they see on celebrities.

Sizes and Size Charts - What size should I buy?

Bandage dresses generally come in four standard sizes, X-Small, Small, Medium and Large.

The construction of each of these sizes is meant to be standard yet in practice can vary. There is only one solution to this, and that is that a retailer applies the very highest levels of quality control to ensure that sizes are supplied consistently and accurately to end consumers. 

What size should I buy?

Are you confused about what size to buy in a bandage dress, see our size chart for a detailed explanation.  

bandage dress size chart


How to identify a quality bandage dress?

A quality bandage dress stretches three to four inches across your body. There will be more stretch around the hips than the bust therefore it is important to get a dress that fits your bust as your hips will stretch into it. When we provide size measurements for bandage dresses these measurements are at three quarter stretch. If we measured the dress flat on a table it would measure a lot smaller than the actual size of body it needs to fit. This is because of the awesome stretch bandages dresses have. Stretch and thickness in quality bandage dress is amazing. Here how to be sure you can get into it! 

Bandage dresses come in a variety of thicknesses and weight, quality bandage dresses weigh 50 to 80 percent more than their cheaper counterparts – even though they are made of the same composites. As the thickness and weight of a dress increases so does the price, exponentially. So it becomes important that a balance is found between price and quality. 

The Kewl Shop supplies bandage dresses in the high quality range, and is able to do this at the most affordable cost to consumers. Dresses of this quality have very healthy thickness and weight. You will not be able to see-through the dress even at excessive stretch areas or when placed in front of bright light. A high quality bandage dress provides you with the confidence that is needed to wear such a figure hugging dress.

Plus Size Bandage Dresses

Most brands and retailers tend to reserve bandage dresses for slimmer body profiles and produce sizes x-small, small, medium, and large. A handful of retailers have begun to accept the challenge of making XL or plus sizes. Wearing a plus sized bandage dress properly requires that the dress be constructed in such a way to pull, suck, and tuck so that wearers are confident and comfortable. 

Bodycon vs. Bandage Dresses

We get asked all time what the differences are between bodycon dresses and bandage dresses. Here is an infographic explaining the basic differences with a more detailed explanation found in our article on the subject

    infographic - bodycon v bandage dress

    How to style a bandage dress

    We've written a whole article on the subject and so have removed the detail here. From your hairstyle to your shoes and the accessories in between this article on how to style a bandage or bodycon dress explains it all. 

    gold bandage dress

    What do I wear under a bandage dress?

    What you wear under your bandage dress largely depends on the style of dress you are wearing. For strapless bandage dresses or sweetheart necklines it is recommended that you go for a strapless bra. In many cases you are able to forgo undergarments because of the fit and support quality bandage dresses provide. Likewise for a bandage dress with a more elaborate or plunging neckline we recommended adhesive bras.

    Determining the style and type of undergarments first requires the best fit. To learn more about how to choose the right bra size we consulted Erica Windle, co-founder of  A Sophisticated Pair, an intimate boutique in North Carolina. Read the full write up here.  

    textured bandage dress

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    About the Author

    Sasithon Bella is the kewl in The Kewl Shop. Co-founder, chief buyer, bandage dress guru and a lot more. If you like what you see at The Kewl Shop it is because of Sasithon Bella. You might know her better as Sasi.

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