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Dinner dress, 1910–12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

Rate the Dress: Ring a Ring o Roses

This week’s Rate the Dress moves from orderly paisley, to a more unruly pattern that mixes shapes, textures and floral types with wild abandon.  Will asymmetry, fringe, and wreaths of roses over orchid lei beat out last week’s rating?

Last week: a green paisley 1850s dress  

Last week’s 1850s frock made some of you remember how disappointed you were to discover that adult life involved far too few balls (after all, what’s the point of being an adult if not tea parties and balls?), and made others think of their least favourite salad greens and dressing combination (as a farmer’s daughter, I’m very alarmed if you’re buying lettuce in that shade of green, but I have no quibble with anyone who wants to claim that mayonnaise is revolting, particularly as a salad dressing).

The Total: 8.1 out of 10

Well, it definitely beat the bustle dress of the week before!

This week:

I’m keeping with the feminine, romantic feel of last weeks dress, but in a very different era, and with a gold tinged take on feminine and romantic, rather than green.

Dinner dress, 1910–12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

Dinner dress, 1910–12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

This early 1910s dinner dress combines a fabric with a motif of rose wreaths floating over textured satin and matte orchids and leis with lace, net, braiding, oversized faux buttons, rosettes, and a net fringe.  It’s a lot, but all held together by a restrained pastel colour scheme.

Dinner dress, 1910–12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

Dinner dress, 1910–12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

The dress is identifiable as a dinner or reception dress because the neckline is higher than a ballgown, but lower and more revealing than a day dress.  The train and luxe fabric place it firmly in formal wear territory for the early 1910s.

What do you think?  Too many disparate elements, or a beautiful balance of details and subtlety?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  Thanks in advance!)

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman

My talk on Katherine Mansfield, the New Zealand Suffrage movement, and the changing roles of women in the late 19th and early 20th century was last weekend at the NZ Portrait Gallery.

It went off beautifully, thanks to assistance from students from Toi Whakaari The New Zealand Drama School, who modelled and assisted as dressers.

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

The talk coincided with the exhibition: Katherine Mansfield: A Portrait, which includes depictions of Mansfield by various artists, from the famous Anne Estelle Rice portrait, to more modern interpretations of Mansfield.

They art provided an interesting counterpoint to the models in their outfit.  The costumes illustrate the development of more modern ideals and roles for women in fashion, and the different facets of the ‘modern woman’ that emerged in Mansfield’s lifetime.  The artworks show the different ways in which people view and interpret Mansfield: the facets of her personality.

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

After the talk the models enjoyed the other, equally appropriate exhibition, Worn Identities:

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

And the bookstore:

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

And then we moved out to the waterfront for photos:

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

(it is a truth universally acknowledged that any group of women, if dressed in period costume, will inevitably pretend to be scandalised by something).

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Good times!

Mansfield & the Modern Woman thedreamstress.com

Silk gauze dress, c. 1855-1860 Gift of Jane M. Gincig and Patricia Larson Kalayjian, FIDM S2011.1087.189

Rate the Dress: Green gauze & paisley

This week’s Rate the Dress tones down the colours, with an 1850s dress in fresh green with touches of white and small formal paisley motifs.  From contrast to calming green: how will the ratings compare?

Last week: a bright blue and burgundy 1870s number

Well, moths were all the rage on most of the internet last week, but not here on Rate the Dress!  With very few exceptions the ratings were #teammothbowsarebad.  The colours were actually pretty popular, and a few people really did like the dress wholeheartedly.  The rest of you?  Not so much!

The Total: 6.6 out of 10

Ouch.  Even the rating is giving the dress side-eye.

This week: 1850s ruffles in green silk gauze

The overall style and silhouette of the dress is much simpler than last week: a classic second-half-of-the-1850s ballgown silhouette, with tiers of ruffles either woven a la disposition, or edged with a wide border print ribbon.

The border features a highly fashionable paisley motif, with a slightly blurred aesthetic that indicates it was created with a warp printed weaving technique.

The three tiers of the skirt are echoed in the sleeve tiers, and the three darts that shape each side of the bodice.  The simple fitted bodice has either lost its berthe, or never included one.

FIDM suggests this gown may have been paired with a Kashmiri shawl, for a paisley-on-paisley look.  However, paisley shawls had ceased to be fashionable evening accessories in the early 1830s, and fashion plates of the 1850s & 60s almost exclusively show them paired with daywear, so a wearer with any aspirations to being a la mode would likely have avoided such a combination.

What do you think?  Fresh and just fashionable enough to be interesting, or too much like too many other 1850s dresses.  Or perhaps there can never be too many tiered, ruffled 1850s dresses?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  Thanks in advance!)