The History of the Bandage Dress | The Kewl Shop

The History of the Bandage Dress

Posted on December 19 2015

Fashion trends have an intriguing way of sticking around for years or disappearing after making brief appearances on runways around the world. What we choose to wear is an intricate part of who we are and what we stand for. When you put on a summer dress you tell the world you are feeling light, flirty, and breezy. When you put on a bodycon or bandage dress you tell the world you are feeling sexy, fierce, and confident. 

backless bandage dress
 Fashion Trends of Years Past

There are a handful of fashion trends that have begun to peak again and are seeming hanging around. Skinny leg jeans and peasant blouses (of which we love) have been popping up everywhere. However, the attempts to bring back harem and leather pants are seemingly disastrous so we prefer that they fail.  Skinny jeans first made their appearance in the early 1950s. We saw them in movies being worn by stars like Zorro or Marilyn Monroe. By the 1960s women began to push boundaries and put on tailored and form fitting jeans without hesitation.


The most interesting thing about fashion is the way it emerges and blossoms. Some fashion trends transcend time and hang around for generations and generations such as the little black dress or long sleeve dress styles with A-line designs. It is remarkable to see the paths of fashion trends and watch them come and go. Often these trends are introduced through celebrities, fashion magazines, student designers, and actresses.

Trends such as skinny jeans and peasant blouses gave women power and the courage to embrace their feminine profiles. The attraction to feminine curves completely spiked when skinny jeans and peasant blouses continued to dominate the fashion world. 

The Birth of the Bandage Dress

Another inspired fashion trend that continues to rise and make it's permanent mark is the alluring bandage dress. The bandage dress phenomenon has taken on the snowball effect. It started out in small elite circles and has gained tremendous traction as it tumbles down runaways and red carpets around the world. 

It is commonly believed that Herve Leger is the originator of bandage dresses. Though his awe inspiring designs are uniques, fierce, and fabulous he's simply the designer that got the bandage dress recognized as a closet staple in the 1990s but we saw bandage dresses almost a decade before.

Designer and respected dressmaker Azzedine Alaia launched the very first collection of bandage dresses in 1986. He was dubbed the "King of Cling" in the fashion world as his designs included the first ever stretch mini skirts, cycling shorts, and even rompers! His designs displayed and paid tribute to the female form and were worn by legends including Tina Turner and Madonna.

Characteristics of the Original Bandage Dress

One of the lost characteristics of a true bandage dresses today is its true purpose of holding and molding to your body. A true bandage dress features intricate styling and construction that gives you the feel of a “second skin". A good bandage dress is comfortable and easy to wear because it's designed to hug your body, accentuate your curves, is sturdy to promote circulation, and durable so that it resists tearing. Alaia's designs were known for these characteristics and fashion greats such as Herve Leger (and us) continue to honor him.

In the 1980s women began to embrace toned bodies and bandage dresses answered the call to flaunt it. In the 1990s women desired to be sexy around the clock, on the red carpet, at dinner parties, and everywhere in between without having to do a costume change - the bandage dress rose to the occasion.

white long bandage dressWomen's fashion grows and evolves. We saw silhouette styles in the 1960s through the 1970s. These fitted styles traced a woman's curves but never dared hug them. The history of the bandage dress is interesting and encouraging. This dress style seems to follow the evolution of women. We loved our feminine curves and craved to stop hiding them under A-line skirts and petticoats. 

Today the bandage dress is found around the world and worn by celebrities and everyday women alike. Styles are as vast and varied as the women who covet them. We see nude colored bandage dresses year around, little black bandage dresses on the red carpet, and a two piece bandage dresses in the nightclubs or at bars. We see short dresses, long sleeved dresses, and everything between.

We see a variety of designer bandage gowns that easily reach $2000 and others that barely scratch the surface at $30 each. As you learn more about bandage dresses here are the key indicators of a true bandage dress and whether yours will hold up against the test of time and through a few fashion seasons.

Durability. Make sure your bandage dress features sturdy construction similar to the designs of 
Azzedine Alaia and Herve Leger.

Polished. A subtle shine or gloss to your bandage dress fabric is necessary. A tight fitting dress that is dull is simply not pleasing to the eye or flattering to the wearer.

Comfort. If your bandage dress does not stretch and is purely polyester or rayon you will be horribly uncomfortable. There must be an appropriate blend of nylon, spandex, etc.

Sturdy. Thickness smooths and tucks without effort. If the bandage dress is too thin it will rise when you walk and not act as a natural “skin” for you.

Wondering how much is too much to pay for a bandage dress? I've covered that too in another post.

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