In more recent years, the wrap dress has gotten kind of a bad (w)rap (pun very much intended). First designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in the '30s, and Claire McCardell in the '40s (who called her version the "popover"), the silhouette hit peak popularity in the mid-to-late '70s, when Diane von Furstenberg introduced a knee-length, printed jersey version as something flattering, but also sexually liberating. Perhaps its lengthy history is why I've associated the wrap dress with my mother’s generation, but, for me, it's always felt totally un-modern and too obvious, with its stretchy fabric and dated patterns.
That is, until I started packing for a quick four-day trip to Porto, Portugal. For my long weekend, I wanted to keep my packing concise, with everything fitting into a carry-on. Since the trip was so short, I didn’t want to waste precious time each morning fawning over what I could possibly wear that day; I wanted to be able to blindly reach into my suitcase and put on whatever I pulled out first. And once I realized many of my favorite designers were showing variations of the wrap dress, I figured they had to be onto something. Despite past feelings, I found myself gravitating towards their versions of the iconic style — and knew it was finally time to give it a try.
Disclosure: Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Claus Porto for the purpose of writing this story.
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The rich colors and pattern of this dress easily transitioned from day to night. I swapped my flat sandals for a small, strappy heel for evening and wasted no time between shopping (and selfie-ing in places like the new Claus Porto store) and dinner.
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Diane von Furstenberg might be the most well-known wrap dress designer; the style has been a staple of her collection season-after-season. When British designer Jonathan Saunders came on as chief creative officer of the label in 2016, he breathed new life into the original design with new, bold colors and modern patterns. I love so many of these, it was hard to pack just one!