Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Buying a Bandage Dress
Last updated on : January 06 2023
You'll find everything you need to know about bandage dresses right here. Whether it's their history, their manufacture, or how to wear one - this article covers it all.
Table of Contents
- What is a Bandage Dress?
- Assessing Good Quality
- History and Trends
- Fabric & The Manufacturing Process
- Buying Tips - How Much Should I Pay?
- Size Considerations
- Caring for your Dress
- Bodycon vs. Bandage Dresses
- Styling Options and Accessories
- Undergarments for Bandage Dresses
- Selecting A Bandage Dress For You
- Occasions To Wear Your Bandage Dresses
- Bikini and One Piece Bandage Swimsuits
- Types of Weaves
What is a Bandage Dress?
A bandage dress is a form-fitting dress made from a blend of rayon, nylon, and spandex, a composite material similar to that used in foundation garments or shapewear. The weave creates distinct layers that look like bandages, giving the dress its name. Bandage dresses fit like a second skin, shaping your body with their stretch and thickness.
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 only a few hours.
Assessing Good Quality
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 materials are not quality bandage dresses.
- Durability. Your dress should feel sturdy in its construction and have a minimum weight close to 2 lbs for a standard short sleeve or sleeveless fit. Quality bandage dresses will weigh 50% to 80% more than their cheaper counterparts.
- Sheen. A subtle shine or gloss should be visible on the fabric. It comes from the silk-like qualities of the cloth.
- Stretch: The dress should easily stretch 3 to 4 inches across your body. At full stretch, it should not be see through at all.
- Comfort. Even though the fit is tight, your dress should be comfortable to wear like a second skin. Its construction and strength should provide excellent support and shape to your body.
History and Trends
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 initially emerged in the 1960s and continued to pop up on runways throughout the 1970s. 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 more comfortable 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.
Herve Leger, the brand, was founded in 1985 by fashion designer Hervé Peugnet. They brought bandage dresses to the mainstream and pioneered the use of materials used in foundation type garments to make the dress. BCBG Max Azria now owns Herve Leger. They actively market bandage dresses under the Herve Leger brand with their 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. The press dubbed him King of Cling for his collections that often featured bicycle shorts and miniskirts.
The Manufacturing Process
Manufactures of bandage dresses vary in size and production. Dressmakers can produce anywhere between 500 to 40,000 per month. Dress factories have two primary departments or areas of production. Looms that knit the dress material and manufacture, the sewing together of the dress.
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 an inspection stage to clean up loose fabric ends and imperfections. Finally, the last step irons and attaches a label.
The 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 buy generic bandage material because it is specific to dress designs.
For more detail on the manufacture of these dresses, read our article on the process and the fabrics used.
It is reasonably straightforward to make price comparisons between bandage dress retailers and online stores. There are hundreds of places offering bandage dresses at a variety of price points.
However, consider more than price when buying a bandage dress:
- Fabric and Quality. Bandage dresses made from polyester will be cheap and low quality. Look for high-quality bandage dresses made with a blend of rayon, nylon, and spandex. Rayon is a silk-like fabric that is tear and snag resistant. When blended with spandex and nylon it creates material that clings to your body like a second skin. Although high-quality dresses are sturdy enough to double as shapewear, they are also comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. Your standard good quality bandage dress should weigh in at close to 2 lbs.
- The Retailer. 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. Delighted customers always share their excitement and often leave feedback.
- Free Shipping. 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 and expedited shipping.
- Return Policies. Some return policies are fair, and others are a headache. An expensive dress with good return options is worth more than a cheap one that you can't return. A way to compare return policies is to look at the return period. The shorter this time, the stricter the return policy usually is. Try to go for one that is longer than 30 days.
- Customer Service. Are there telephone numbers, live chat, or other means of contact visible on the website? If you have a problem with your order can you speak to a human being?
- Sizes. In practice, sizes can vary between retailers. Consult size charts, see what customers are saying and speak to the retailer about their sizing policy.
Bandage dresses come in sizes, X-Small, Small, Medium and Large, with some styles in X-Large or Plus Size.
Sizes are meant to be standard across all retailers but vary in practice, sometimes considerably. Check size charts and ask retailers before buying. Retailers should ensure that sizes are supplied consistently and accurately to their published size charts.
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.
Plus Size Dresses
Plus sizes are a challenge to retailers because the stretch in the material doesn't cater for larger sizes, making it unwieldy. However, some retailers are stepping up to the mark and delivering XL Sizes to this critical market.
Caring for your Dress
We recommend that you first try to spot clean your dress and only dry clean when necessary.
To spot clean, wash the dress gently in cold water either entirely or just the spots that require cleaning. Use gentle detergent. Avoid overly agitating, pulling, or bunching as you wash. Lay flat on a drying rack or a towel to dry to make sure it keeps its shape.
Read our step by step guide for more in-depth care instructions.
Bodycon vs. Bandage Dresses
Bodycon and bandage are terms often used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two dress types. The infographic below explains the essential differences, with a more detailed explanation found in our article on the subject.
Styling Options and Accessories
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.
Over the years bandage dresses have become an indispensable part of every woman’s wardrobe. Whether you want to wear one for a night out on the town, during a shopping spree with friends, or on a hot first date; a bandage dress is a one-size-fits-all solution for your fashionista needs.
Undergarments for Bandage Dresses
What you wear under your dress will depend on its style.
For strapless dresses or sweetheart necklines, we recommended a strapless bra. For dresses with an elegant or plunging neckline, we recommended adhesive bras. In many cases, you can go without undergarments because of the fit and support quality these dresses provide.
Read our article, what to wear under a bandage or bodycon dress for detailed advice.
To learn 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.
Selecting A Bandage Dress For You
Choose a dress that matches your complexion
You can buy a dress that's tailored to suit your figure, and you'll show off a gorgeous silhouette. The difference will be in how the dress color matches your skin tone.
The right color will make you look bright, healthy, and vibrant, without needing a shred of makeup on your face. It will bring out the undertones in your skin in a way that gives you a natural glow.
Read our article to understand exactly how to choose a dress that matches your complexion.
Choose a dress that suits your body type
Dressing to your body type ensures your clothes look right, your best assets highlighted and your worst hidden or camouflaged.
Use the advice in this article on dresses for your body type to display your feminine curves correctly, and create the svelte proportions you desire.
Match your hairstyle to your dress neckline
When choosing a hairstyle for your dress consider your mood, the dress neckline itself and the length of the dress. If the neckline shows a lot of skin, then wear your hair back. Match with your mood, and the overall look of the dress to get it just right.
Read more on how to balance your hairstyle and dress correctly.
Occasions To Wear Your Bandage Dresses
Wear your bandage dress during the day or out at night any time of the year. They are versatile and work well for casual hangouts with your friends to parties, clubs, weddings and more.
Here are some good examples - click on the headings to find the best bandage dress for each occasion.
Cocktails, Parties & Clubs
The goal is to choose a dress that highlights your best features and balances your body’s proportions. It is to create a look of perfect symmetry between your bust, waistline, hips, and booty.
While many women rue the fact that every birthday means they are growing older, it is no secret that we all look forward to the big day, the gifts, and the chance to dress up and wow everyone. After all, you are at the center stage on this day.
But deciding what to wear on your birthday can be tough, especially with so many choices around.
Prom, Bat Mitzvah & Sweet 16
These coming of age occasions offers young women a chance to be a princess for one night. A chance to shine, be the “belle of the ball,” and welcome womanhood without batting an eye.
Choose your ideal dress, and everything else falls into place. It is a challenge, headache, and a memorable time to argue with Mom.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas is mostly true, yet never applies to what you wear in Vegas. Ever. Whether walking the Las Vegas Strip or browsing the grand boutiques between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay hotels your Vegas dress is a big deal.
For our white party dresses, we love to wear white bandage dresses. They are closet staples and provide a fresh new look. Also, they offer confidence with their curve molding fit, doubling as shapewear and enhancing your fabulous shape.
On Valentines Day you need a dress that is sexy, sultry and hot. This dress requirement rings true whether you're heading out for a romantic night with your lover, cooking a seductive meal at home. Or merely meeting up with your single friends.
Bandage dresses are excellent choices for Mardi Gras because they are statement pieces and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They are easily worn during the day or at night. And they give your body the support you need while showing off your sexy curves.
St Patrick's Day
If you wish to stand out while also sticking to the day’s theme, you cannot go wrong with a sexy bandage dress - in the color green of course.
There is nothing wrong with wearing fitted bandage styles to brunch on the day. Just make sure your outfit is not too revealing for the family get-together.
One of the best ways to achieve this balance is to opt for a flattering bandage dress in a soothing hue. Relaxed and soft colors help you stick to the holiday theme and to hold your own in the sea of puffy dresses, dainty clutches, and straw hats.
Cinco De Mayo
If you are planning to be part of 5 de Mayo celebrations this year, why not do it in a stylish bandage dress? Dressing up for the day involves a bit of planning if you wish to stick to the festive and bright colors of red, yellow, and orange.
Bikini and One Piece Bandage Swimsuits
Bikini and one-piece swimsuits in bandage material are sexy and stylish. And quite unlike any other type of swimwear. Colorful and strappy they are made for showing off curves and skin.
Bandage material in rayon, nylon and spandex offer great fit in swimwear because the fabric is reliable, sturdy, and flexible. The blend ensures the swimsuit lifts your curves and hugs your body in all the right places. It is safe for short periods in water, and will not lose it's shape or form when wet.
Read our complete guide to bandage swimsuits and our guide to wearing a white bikini for more detail on these stylish swimwear options.
Types of Weaves
These are the non-standard weaves.
Foil Weave Dresses
A process applied to bandage dress material that gives the dress more weight and a textured shiny pattern. Foil weave or metal dresses are more substantial than their standard counterparts because of this thin metal finish. See examples of this dress type in the image below.
Jacquard Weave Dresses
A jacquard dress has its pattern embedded into the weave, instead of being printed on the fabric directly. This type of design is complicated 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.
Ombre Bandage Dresses
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 fun and funky.
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Editor: Charles Fitzgerald