Last week’s Rate the Dress entry was an 1860s gown transitioning from late crinoline to early bustle. The general consensus was that the transition was a bit problematic – the lace hip ruffle, and unresolved bustle fullness, plus the hard-to-swallow (pun intentional) from a modern viewpoint high throat, but that the dress still had a lot of lovely points – earning it a respectable but not stellar 7.6 out of 10.
This week we’re looking at a 17th century portrait featuring Elizabeth Craven, Lady Powis, in a coordinating jacket and skirt featuring embroidered flora and fauna.
The elaborate embroidery on the skirt and bodice highlight Elizabeth’s skill as a needlewoman, and her knowledge of plants and animals. The sheen of fabric suggests that the embroidery might have been done on silk, rather than the more common linen. This, along with her sumptuous double-pearl earrings, pearl necklace, and lush lace cuffs and collar, demonstrate her wealth.
The portrait makes a clear statement about Elizabeth’s status and accomplishments. Does it do an equally successful job of speaking up for her taste?
Previous early 17th century fashions (invariably portraits) on Rate the Dress have been criticised for the improbably low necklines, which manage to dip well below the armpits without showing the slightest hint of cleavage, and the more peculiar silhouettes, like hanging sleeves and wheel farthingales. Will Elizabeth, with her V neckline and more subdued silhouette, fare better?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.