Anatomy of the tube dress

A pseudo-scientific look at the de facto Strip uniform

Photo: Leila Navidi


A. Wearers pull this area up when dress slips down.
B. Extremely form-fitting to show every curve or, God forbid, dimple.
C. Wearers pull this area down when dress rides up.
D. Material is usually lightweight, often a Lycra-cotton blend.
E. The dress is large enough to cover the body, approximately equal to the size of a bath towel, but small enough to fit into a can of soda.
F. Shows as much skin and form as legally possible.
G. As companions to the tube dress, the shoes should be devilishly sexy and brutally uncomfortable. Without them, the dress is nothing.

Like antelope, they move through the casinos, restaurant corridors and valet stands in herds—a sort of cautious yet free energy. Their gaits are transformed by the marked elevation of their heels, resulting in a careful, almost clumsy prance.

But what absolutely defines them is a singular, tiny, poly-cotton fabric that extends from the bosom to just below the pubic symphysis. Known as the “tube dress,” it is just that—material formed into a tight-fitting sleeve that hugs every curve of its wearer. The behavior of the fabric can deceptively lead onlookers to believe that its wearers have begun a sort of spontaneous snake-like molting and are about to relinquish the tube entirely. However, this is most often not the case, at least not early in the evening or while at a club or restaurant. It’s an action of the dress itself: Having no straps, the top tends to slip downward, exposing the bosom. Additionally, the dress tends to ride upward, exposing the buttocks (and other goods), creating a dual-pull move that has been referred to as the “Vegas shuffle.”

While these dresses exist and are worn in other cities, their prevalence is profound in Las Vegas, where beauty and youthful vigor are imperative to having fun and, more importantly, gaining access behind the Strip’s velvet ropes.

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