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Home » FASHIONISTA NOW » Fashionista NOW: The Handkerchief Dress Trend & Why It Is Back

Fashionista NOW: The Handkerchief Dress Trend & Why It Is Back

Credit | Maria Cristina

Another day, another dress trend post. Find out what is a handkerchief hem dress, the history behind it and if it’s the frock style to wear for your body type.

Dresses; you think you know all there is to know about them until another statement silhouette comes around. While the bodice gets interpreted in many different ways, the hem is another aspect of a dress that designers get to play around with too. That said, the handkerchief dress or skirt isn’t something new at all. It originates all the way back to The Great Gatsby era. French french designers Madeleine Vionnet and Jean Patou were two key figures who made the handkerchief hem popular.

What exactly is a handkerchief hem, you wonder?

You may have seen the look, the kind of hem that’s asymmetric, which is a favorite amongst the bohemian-inclined fashion crowd. A handkerchief hem is described as resembling a handkerchief that is held in the middle so that the corners hang or point down. On tops, skirts and dresses, the handkerchief hem has been used for centuries to give a flattering shape over the hip area. The influence can be seen in Ancient Greece from clothing made for women at the time and in Parisian fashion era from the 1910s to 1920s. (source)

The handkerchief hem was popular in the 1930s as a transitional hem that was preferred at the time, moving away from the shorter hemlines that the Flapper style was famous for. The return of the handkerchief hem in the 21st century is only to be expected with the bohemian clothing label Free People introducing it into their virtual shelves in 2003.

As the handkerchief hem’s signature design features gentle pleats that drape over the waist-to-hip area, a lot of soft, flowy and lightweight fabric material is used. Milan fashion shows in 2004 saw models wearing handkerchief hems, further thrusting the trend back into the spotlight.

Just two years ago, the newest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby reignited the love affair with the rebellious hemline through the fashion sense of the 1920s sweetheart, Daisy Buchanan.

More recently, Christian Dior’s 2015 resort collection carried statement handkerchief scarf dresses that have been given a contemporary take anyone worth their fashion salt will want to be spotted in them. Alas, not everyone has the budget and thus the affordable handkerchief dress selection we have below:



| army green handkerchief hem dress

So, is the handkerchief hem dress really back? On Lookbook itself, their presence is pretty sparse as evident by the selection I’ve chosen in this post. And I just don’t see it that much on Instagram, either. It’s back in a lurky way, I suppose and if you want to be one of the earliest birds to be wearing the dress trend, then now is the time.


| long sleeve grey handkerchief dress (running low in stock) Alternative in black available. See below:


| long sleeve black handkerchief hem dress

Now, the most important question is: Does the handkerchief dress go with your body type?

Upon scrutinizing the shape of the dress where it’s drapey about the hem with points hanging downwards prompting your eyes to also stare at the leg area, it is certainly a dress for those who have no issues with leg-flaunting. Because of the volume around the hip and post-hip area coupled with the lack of definition at the waist, the wearer can easily look faux pregnant. Employ skinny belt to have your waist defined.


| monochrome black and white handkerchief hem dress


| patterned grey handkerchief hem dress

So, what do you think of this dress trend? I personally find it more wearable than the high low dress variety. What about you? Share your thoughts – I do love reading them!

“The couturier should be a geometrician, for the human body makes geometrical figures to which the materials should correspond.”Madeleine Vionnet

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Here on Fashionista NOW, our one and very own Miss Reverie showcases the latest in fashion trends and its various social implications in our everyday lives. You may read more of her at REVERIE SANCTUARY.

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