Rate the Dress: ruffly pink party frock of the late 1860s

Goodness was last week’s acid green Callot Soers dress controversial and divisive!  You either really, really, really love it.  Or really didn’t.  If I’d gone with everyone who rated it 6 and over it would have come out an 8.1 out of 10.  If I’d gone with everyone who rated it 5 and under it it would have rated a 3 out of 10.  Combined, the rating comes to a 6.5 out of 10, which is a rating that no-one gave it on their own!

It’s Valentine’s day, and even though I’m not a Valentines fan at all I thought it was a good excuse to show you something ruffly and pink.

I failed to find a suitable frock that was quite and pink and quite as ruffly as I had hoped, but I did find this sweet but slightly restrained  pink and cream party frock from the MFA Boston.

Girl's party dress, silk taffeta, 1865-70, American, MFA Boston

Doesn’t this girls dress with its stripes and panniered overskirt just speak of old fashioned Valentines: all flower garlands and cupids, and maybe just a little yellowing from age?

But is looking like a Valentine really a good thing?  Is the dress a cliche of itself or a perfectly sweet bit of nostalgia?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

 

40 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Ginnie Wise says:

    I think it’s perfectly sweet, in all the right ways.
    8/10

  2. LadyD says:

    Love it. Colours, patterns, shape etc.
    10/10

  3. Abigail says:

    Super cute. Totally would make one for myself. Ruffles – just right; Color – perfect; and the wide neckline is lovely. 10/10

  4. Zach says:

    That is by far the cutest child’s dress I have ever seen! I love everything about it–100%! The pink and stripes are wonderful and my love for the cute mannequin and hairstyle just make my love greater. Have I ever a daughter, this gown shall bless her closet.

    Ten out of ten! (If I could give it one thousand out of ten, I would.)

  5. Gail says:

    I HATE the bertha collar yet once I’m pass it, everything looks better. They just don’t look right on this dress even the mannequin looks pissed. It looks too mature on a girl’s dress. However our time period for girl’s clothes is totally different from 1860s~70s girl’s clothes. I love the fabric, the style, the ruffles, the color but that collar has to go.

    7/10

  6. Jenny Wren says:

    Hey, that’s cute! If you’d described all the parts to me, I wouldn’t have liked it. But seeing it as one whole, it works. Maybe it’s because I love vertical stripes…

    8.5/10

  7. chris says:

    this is such a sweet dress! would sew this for my daughter as a “princess” dress = )

    10/10

  8. Libby Gohn says:

    What a great Valentine’s dress! I adore anything with vertical stripes and a petal overskirt. My only complaint is the grey tint to the pink, that might not looks so good on an actual human as opposed to a grey mannequin. 9/10.

  9. I’m not a fan of those apron-y things the Victorians were apparently fond of… I’d like a polonaise-style overskirt much more.
    Still, I rather like the dress. 6/10

  10. Em says:

    Cutest girl’s dress ever!! I’d definitely sew this for a little girl if I had one!
    10/10

    Em

  11. Genevieve says:

    It’s beautiful. It is just fancy enough. Not too overdone. I love little girls in simpler styles. Love the pink and the stripes and the sewn down ruffles.

    10/10

  12. Nuranar says:

    Super cute! The pink is perfect for a young girl. And the fabrics and trim are actually restrained for late 1860s – no lace or foofy white sheer ruffles or frills. The stripe keeps it a little more tailored, too.
    10/10

  13. Clara Nelson says:

    I like it a lot. the pannier sides are kind of odd, but I would definitely wear it. The color is my favorite, and I really love the style.

    9/10

  14. ellipsisknits says:

    cliche of itself is a good descriptor.

    It’s just silly looking without being all that fancy. It looks like a costume, but it isn’t.

    5/10

  15. I can imagine some girl looking very pretty in this dress, but I’ve never been that type of girl, even when I was a kid; the first really pretty dress I remember was black velvet with a sailor collar. A 5, because it’s really not at all objectionable, considering that it’s for a young girl, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.

  16. Issy says:

    It’s gorgeous!! Definitely 10/10. :)

  17. Stella says:

    Dear God that is horrible. Now, full disclosure, the reason I have such a visceral reaction of disgust towards this dress is that it reminds me of some of the dresses mum made me as a kid, which I hated, and the shame of being seen wearing them. That’s not the dress’s fault. However, I still have to rate it basesd on the impression it makes on me: 1/10

  18. T. Sedai says:

    I think it is cute! Not that I would have ever worn such a frilly dress. But I like it – just the right amount of ruffles and decoration.

    9/10

    • Elise says:

      Hahaha–I understand you completely! In fact, as I scrolled down to see the picture, I thought: “Please let this be a girl’s dress and not a grown woman’s.” (In my defense, there are a LOT of mid 19th-century froufers!)

      Isn’t it sweet for a little girl? 9/10

  19. Lynne says:

    Another good score – 9 out of 10 for a very pretty dress for a girl. I, too, was hoping it was meant for a child. Positively Sugar Plum Fairy!

  20. Lauren says:

    I like it. It doesn’t blow my silk stockings off, but I would wear it. I give it an 8

  21. Tenshi says:

    It’s perfectly cute! If it were any other color than pink, I’d totally wear it! Being a blue-eyed, curly-haired blonde, I can’t do pink. I’d look like a barbie doll. Then again, that does seem to be the whole point of it, so I might. I don’t think it’s a mind-blowingly awesome *oh my gosh I need this or I’ll die!*dress, but it absolutely is and does what it is supposed to be and do, I think. So, 8/10

  22. Melissa says:

    This is like, exactly the dress I would have wanted as a five-year old (I used to love princesses and all things pink, not that you would know it now). Consider that praise if you like.

    I think it is a sweet dress for a young girl. It almost looks like the dress has elements of the 18th century in it, or maybe that is just because of how the dress is proportioned for a younger girl. I like the stripes, think the ruffles are pretty tame for the time period, and I like that this is probably one of the more child-friendly examples of party clothes for children I have seen from the 19th century. Because I can’t see anything that I dislike or want to nitpick, I’m going to rate this 10/10.

  23. Gillian says:

    I think it’s lovely, though it’s totally not my style. But I could picture it looking very sweet on a little girl with dark hair. 8.5/10

    (I think you need another option on your current poll — I collect vintage clothes, and I do wear some of them – the ones which are strong enough to handle it and don’t look to weird being worn in a modern setting. So, I collect them and wear them occasionally! More than once for a photo, but not “all the time”.)

  24. Anna says:

    Without the overskirt it would have been a nine. As is 6/10.

  25. Lisa says:

    I really like the dress and it is very sweet. I would give it an 9 out of 10.

  26. Dawn says:

    Hmmmm, if I ever get a grand-daughter she is so getting one of these to wear to church….Not for Valentines…she’d freeze to death but definately Easter. With a little shawl…it is church after all…can’t show to much skin! 10! Even like the color and stripes!

    • I love how much opinions can vary – it’s particularly funny when two comments come in at the same time, and they have completely the opposite view, as with your comment and Lynn’s!

  27. Lynn Brooks says:

    3/10

    will i get in trouble if i use the word fugly?

  28. Peg says:

    Just adorable… 10+

  29. Polly says:

    I think it is perfectly sweet… for the period, but if you dressed your daughter in it today… oh dear.
    10/10 for the period it was made in
    2/10 for 2012
    so maybe 7/10 overall

  30. Rebecca says:

    This is one of my favorite early bustle gowns (and one of the inspiration dresses for the I want candy early bustle gown I’m currently working on). I love pretty much everything about it, except the bertha. Nevertheless 10/10.

  31. Daniel says:

    I think I prefer the other child’s dress you showed a while ago with the red trimming on white, but this is still very sweet indeed and reminds me a lot of Tissot. Have to say 9/10.

  32. fidelio says:

    8/10 because I’m not feeling the love for the apron detail although it looks less dire on this dress than on others. Would this have been made for a girl in her early teens, or a younger child? The length suggests the former to me, but I’m often clueless about 19th century rules for decorum in dress.

  33. Rowenna says:

    metmuseum.orgI have such a weakness for pink stripe…I blame this ensemble: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/80002250?rpp=20&pg=1&ft=dress&deptids=8&when=A.D.+1600-1800&pos=18

    I love the basic shape (especially the neckline) and the perky pink and the simple embellishments. Any more fluff and the dress would get saccharine, but as it stands, it’s sweet and girly. I’m a little meh on the faux-panniers, but appreciate that they remind me, a little bit, of flower petals.

    An 8 for a sweet confection :)

    • Gail says:

      Now that ensemble is awesome. That fichu really set it off. I think it’s the smartness of the cut and the how the silhouette looks I prefer over the 1860s dress.
      Thanks for sharing that link.

  34. Linda says:

    A girl from that era would have felt like a Princess in this dress. It’s is perfect in every way. 10/10

  35. Carolyn says:

    If I had seen this before my wedding my flowergirl might have been dressed a little differently ;o)

    If it wasn’t just that little bit restrained it would rot my teeth. As is, I think it’s perfect!

    10/10

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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