The Highly Debated, Early '00s Bandage Dress Has Made a Comeback — Here's How to Wear It Now

Fashion experts and stylists weigh in on to rock this throwback trend in 2022.

The Highly-Debated, Early '00s Bandage Dress Trend Is Making a Comeback — Here's How to Wear It
Photo: Getty Images

The fashion industry is made up of millions upon millions of wearable items. Though most will droop on hangers and blur together in our closets, unremarkable, a select few eclectic designs make a bold impression across the industry and, as a result, induce a cultural phenomenon. Case in point, the bandage dress.

Though the bandage dress did see some action in the '80s and '90s, the style saw a spike in popularity in the early aughts. The seemingly layered frock shared the spotlight with other texturized items, like the mullet dresses and popcorn shirts, but the wrapping aesthetic was only one-half of the dress's appeal; the other was its body-hugging fit.

KJ Moody defines it best: "The bandage dress is a form-fitting dress that hugs your body and accentuates your curves." The celebrity stylist goes on to cite celebs like Kim Kardashian, The Housewives, and Love and Hip Hop stars as its trendsetters, but according to Emmy-winning designer, Candice Lambert, it was designer Azzedine Alaïa who put the bandage dress on the map in the '80s.

"He was known as the 'King of Cling,'" Lambert says of Alaia. "Celebrities went crazy for these bandage dresses — Madonna, Janet Jackson, Grace Jones, and many more. Then, in the 1990s, the bandage dress was adopted by designer Hervé Léger. He put his own special twist on the design and it was very successful."

Victoria Beckham wearing a bandage dress
Victoria Beckham wearing a bandage dress in 2007. Getty Images

Of course, like any fashion trend that resurfaces from time to time, the bandage dress of 2022 has been reimagined, by the brand responsible for its claim to fame. For a fresh take on the phenomenon, Hervé Léger teamed up with celebrity stylist Law Roach (whose A-list clientele includes everyone from Celine Dion to Zendaya, Ariana Grande, and Brandy) on its Resort 2023 collection. Naturally, the line includes the iconic bandage dress, with modern-day tweaks including combination fabrics and separates, which wearers can mix and match.

"Hervé Léger is making a huge comeback due to the recent nostalgia for vintage fashion trends," a representative from the brand tells InStyle. "Together, Roach and Hervé Léger Creative Director, Christian Juul Nielsen created a collection that stays true to elements of the original Hervé bandage dress but incorporates modern accents such as sexy cutouts, mesh paneling, and unexpected stripe combinations."

Bandage Dress Trend
BFA

The bandage dress has also popped up on the red carpet in recent months. For example, Cara Delevingne turned heads in a dramatic black bandaged dress clad in cutouts at the 75th Cannes Cannes Film Festival, while actress Jane Seymour stepped out in a traditional, gold bandage dress at the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 40th-anniversary screening in Hollywood. Dua Lipa also hopped on the trend in a black bandage dress with mesh accents and stacked gold jewelry for the 64th Grammy Awards, and Game of Thrones star Hannah Waddingham rocked the classic style in a green bandage dress, matching the uniquely colored carpet at the Emmy FYC special screening of Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso.

Hannah Waddingham wearing a bandage dress
Getty Images

If a bodycon moment doesn't feel attainable outside celebrity-studded events, Lambert assures us it absolutely is. Her secret for rocking the style? The right layering pieces and shoe options.

"During the day, pair [a bandage dress] with booties and leather," the stylist says. "At night, lose the leather and put on a fur or beautiful blazer. Get rid of the booties and handbag, and put on a stiletto with a clutch."

For a special event, like date night or a wedding, image consultant Christian Sismone says playing up the vibe of the dress is always the goal.

"[Bandage dresses] come in such a vast amount of colors, textures, and patterns that I would keep everything else simple as the dress gives all you need to say," Sismone tells InStyle. "For example, for a wedding, a beautiful gold or cream bandage dress with nice heels, depending on their comfort, would be an easy mix. The hair and makeup would need to be glam but worn-in. The bandage dress gives you high glam yet simplicity."

This is Ask the Experts, where our favorite fashion know-it-alls share their wisdom. Just because you can trust your style instincts doesn't mean you should have to.

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