Photo: Camila Kukulski

The power of the towel wrap-dress

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By Ida Monroe

The classic towel wrap-dress has been the introduction for many a queen over the years, but I like to think I elevated it to a higher art form.

I knew my silhouettes. I could work the towel into a floor length gown, I could create movement and rhythm and flavour with just intricate folding. Alexander Wang and Alexander McQueen were shooketh.

But that’s the poetic irony of the towel dress. It is never on display. It poses in fogged mirrors, it accompanies hairbrush Oscar speeches, but boys in towel dresses never ever, ever set foot outside the bathroom door. Unless they want the fearful looks of their mothers, or the mortified stares of their sisters, or the disgust of the men they seek to impress.

Somehow, I always felt even more ridiculous in a tux than I did in a towel dress, and I think the world knew that. Tuxes never sat right on my toothpick shoulders, and they always flapped loosely around my chicken legs. Each wrinkle seemed to swallow my slender, “boyish” frame even more, hiding beneath layers and layers of black cotton.

 

I could work the towel into a floor length gown, I could create movement and rhythm and flavour with just intricate folding

 

Adults watched me dissolve under the clothing, smiling in the same way you might smile at a dog trying to swim. As much as I hated it, I was more than happy to play along if it meant getting to be my mother’s “little man,” or that I could blend into the background of other plaid ties.

But whenever I pictured my red carpet look, a belt and jacket had no place there.

I remember the first time I wore a dress outside the house, it felt just like wearing a towel dress. The familiar squeeze around the waist, the caress at the legs, and the same hug reminding me of the existence of my body.

The bustle of the thrift store faded away, just like the bathroom fan at home, and that changing room might as well have been a limousine. The floor of the changing room might have been tile, but I didn’t hear the steps of the size 10 heels.

Shoes don’t make noise on a red carpet.

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