Our faves have Ms. Riding Hood shaking in her boots. In 2022, hooded dresses have steadily been regaining popularity, with multiple high fashion brands opting to incorporate a hooded element into their designs. You may have seen the look on celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Janelle Monae, as well as your friends who know that comfort never goes out of style.
While the gowns have a distinct cultural history that dates back centuries, modern figures are adopting the trend. But why?
“The hooded dress trend comes from the nostalgia of the ‘80s when we think of Grace Jones in the iconic hooded Alaïa pieces,” Amani Saab, the co-founder of an eponymous clothing label, tells ESSENCE via email. Saab’s online store hosts multiple hooded gowns, mini dresses and a bejeweled, cropped hoodie.
“Hooded dresses are bold, celebratory and extravagant, which is very much in the spirit of maximalism, drama and perfectly encapsulates the party season,” she also says.
Throughout the ages, hoods have been worn for multitude of reasons, including religious ones. “Head coverings are used in many religions as a symbol of respect to one’s own faith,” Saab tells us. It’s an expression of one’s cultural identity and to see it being more normalized, it represents a celebration of identity and evokes a re-defined sense of freedom and empowerment.”
In medieval Europe, monks and other clergy members kept their heads covered with garments. Monks in particular wore hooded cowls to block out distractions during prayer. During the Renaissance, hoods gained popularity among the wealthy, who transformed them into a luxury item. The dresses were often made from rich fabrics, such as velvet and taffeta, and were decorated with intricate embroidery and beading.
Hooded dresses became popular in America during World War II. In January 2013, researcher and self-described “vintage sewing enthusiast” Debi Fry launched “The 1940 McCall” project, wherein she recreated dresses from McCall’s, a women’s magazine that included sewing patterns, in 1940. Among the designs was a mid-length dress called “the famous hooded princess dress.” The original print advertisement for the pattern reads: “There are three things here of utmost fashion importance–the hood, shown on a dress for the first time, the big pockets, which you see everywhere, and..the return of the fly closing. Not only is this princess dress smart in light-weight wool with its hood lined with printed crepe, but it’s being made all of print, too. The hooded printed dress is something as new and as fresh as tomorrow morning.”
In her 2013 blog post, Fry notes that in her research, she didn’t come across hooded dresses prior to 1940.
Hooded dresses surged in popularity in the 1980s with the help of Grace Jones in 1985’s A View to a Kill. For Azzedine Alaïa’s Spring/Summer 1986 haute couture show, Jones wore a satin, pink hooded gown on the runway. Her hooded gowns were often designed by Alaïa, quickly identifiable by the bold and colorful fabrics, which only added to Jones’ unique image. She often paired them with other statement beauty choices and pieces, such as bold, bright makeup and towering heels, helping craft a Jones’ signature confident, yet mysterious look.
Though Jones is known for several memorable fashion moments, the hooded dress, in particular, has become associated with Jones and her signature style, making it a must-have for anyone looking to emulate her look.
In recent years, the trend has yet another return, and it’s only evolved in execution and grown in popularity. Today, hooded dresses can be found in a wide variety of styles, from elegant and romantic to edgy and modern.
Not all hooded gowns have been controversy-free. In 2012, Nicki Minaj wore a bright red, custom Versace gown to the Grammy Awards. The ensemble was met with backlash because she brought along a man dressed as the Pope. Kelly Osbourne referred to the outfit as the “egg moment of the year,” calling back to Lady Gaga’s showstopping 2011 arrival at the Grammys in a large, translucent egg.
In 2014, Rihanna hit Los Angeles Airport in a sporty, slightly oversized DKNY dress. Six years later, she wore a marigold hoodie dress from her since-shuttered fashion house, Fenty. She also incorporated a red, vinyl hooded coat dress into her maternity wear, sporting Savage x Fenty during a surprise visit to Los Angeles’ Savage x Fenty store.
Janelle Monáe has embraced the trend, too. She first wore an elegant silver hooded dress designed by Ralph Lauren to the 2020 Oscars. She then wore another Ralph Lauren-designed gown with a hood in 2022 at the Met Gala.
ESSENCE cover star Lori Harvey is another adopter of the style, wearing a terry cloth hooded dress for the August 2022 premiere of Netflix’s “Me Time” and a burgundy SS 1984 Alaia dress for Beyoncé’s Tiffany & Co. party this past October. She then modeled Off-White’s 3-piece modern bridal dress for the Baby2Baby gala the following month.
Beyoncé has been seen wearing a hooded dress this year as well, for her Paris Fashion Week after-party. The maroon dress was designed by Anthony Vaccarello for SS 2023 Saint Laurent.
The resurgence of hooded dresses both on and off the runway has led to an increase in the number of designers and retailers offering their own iterations of the garment. These range from high-end couture pieces to more affordable, mass-produced options found at everyday retailers. Some are more casual and run for less than $15 such as this hooded dress from Shein. Others are better suited for a night out and cost $200, like this hooded dress from Karen Milen.
Get cozy, literally, because the hooded dress trend is not fading away anytime soon, either. Saab just hopes it’s a style choice that becomes more infused with intention. “I do think we will continue to see the trend in 2023, hopefully showing more meaning and value behind the style rather than a trend,” Saab notes. “Representation of the hood creates more awareness and inclusivity for cultural acceptance.”