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Rate the Dress: A dress for the summer before the war

Last week fabulous fabric triumphed over something-missing styling, little tassels which creeped most of you out, and truly terrible gloves to deliver a very impressive 8.8 out of 10 for the butterfly ballgown.

Today’s Rate the Dress is a tiny bit late because I purposefully scheduled it that way to give yesterday’s post a little time in the spotlight, and even later because I chose a last-minute RTD substitution for reasons.

Picking an alternate RTD was easy, because I just stuck with the theme of my recent posts on the ideal WWI figure, and my original idea for an all-one-colour, not super exciting fabric gown..  So let’s look at an evening gown designed to flatter one of those ‘ideal’ WWI era figures:

This peach on peach confection features the small, slightly raised waist of 1914, with a draping, gathered bodice which would sit nicely over a low, soft bust (and is rather fighting with the high, stiff bosom of the mannequin its displayed on), and a chiffon over-tunic to the skirt, which would flow over the angle of the ‘ideal’ bottom, and cascade off its fullest point (and isn’t quite done justice by the flat bottom of the mannequin).

The draping off the skirt & bodice give a nod to Japonisme and the influence of the kimono, and to Classical Grecian drapery: both design elements which were extremely fashionable in the 1900s and 1910s.

Intriguingly, though the museum records indicate that the construction of this dress is very well done – indicating an extremely skilled dressmaker, and, likely, a well-off client – the satin may be made of a manufactured natural (rayon, etc.) or a blend of silk and rayon (which did happen).

What do you think?  Would the wearer of this dress be pretty in peach, or just a bit meloncholy?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

31 Comments

  1. ceci says

    The back view is amazingly lovely, the front seems bunchy and cluttered.

    Five out of ten seems quite harsh, maybe 7 out of 10?

    ceci

  2. I love it! It’s one of my favorite colors, in a beautiful fabric.

    I don’t see either front or back as “bunchy.” It could use more steaming, maybe, and the corsagey thing at the waist maybe hasn’t survived in perfect condition. But I can see, somehow, what it originally was, and I love it. I could probably even wear it effectively.

    10 out of 10.

  3. Emma says

    I think it’s kind of bland. There’s nothing I seriously dislike but there’s nothing I really like about it either. It also kind of reminds me of a silk dressing gown which is maybe not the impression they were going for in an evening gown
    6/10

  4. Jane says

    I give it an 8 and I’d like to give it a name: Peach Melba
    https://goo.gl/images/jF8iTE
    …and then eat said dessert whilst lounging in this divine frock. I particularly enjoy the pleating and gathering details on the back of the skirt, as well as how the back of the dress looks like an opening flower. Lovely.

  5. As much as I like simplicity, I’m finding out I would welcome some different colour here – at least in the sash/corsage area. It looks like a draping practice for the final gown this way, to me…
    Also, I can’t get over that inverted V in the back. Something is missing there – more drapery, bad display that minimises the drapery that’s already there? Something.
    I can picture what it’s supposed to be, and then I look at it and it’s not.
    7/10. I considered 6, but I’m holding out hopes it’s the display’s fault.

  6. Nan Jorgensen says

    I yearn to touch the fabric, plus I think I’d look grand in it. I think I like the pre WWI silhouette!
    10 for 10. Plus — hey— I go to France for 9 months or so, in a couple of weeks; so maybe I can go appreciate it!

  7. The first time I saw this dress I was stunned into silent contemplation for a few moments. And every time I see it, I swear it gets worse and worse. It may just be the world’s most repellent 1910s dress I’ve ever seen.

    I detest this colour (it is SUCH a bad 80s bridesmaid dress colour) and the fact it’s in shiny satin makes the effect even worse. The dress itself isn’t that impressive either. The basic style just looks like draped cheap satin bedsheets belted in awkwardly and pinned and stitched to fit. The sheer stuff looks like the lady just grabbed a nightie and incorporated it into her bedsheet couture. There really isn’t much that is redeeming about this dress – it looks like a cheap 1980s synthetic satin costume for one of those on-a-budget TV films.

    Peach cobblers.

    Sorry, but I’m going to give this a 1/10. I can’t imagine anyone on whom this would look remotely attractive without serious levels of slash and alter and retrimming, preferably accessorised with a full-body opaque burka over the top. To me, it’s just unredeemable, and I usually like 1910s dresses.

  8. Buttercup says

    This dress has too many layers for my liking. There just seems to be bland layer upon layer like the designer didn’t know when to stop. I also find the bunching at the front unattractive. The colour is passable but with all those layers it looks like a peach flavoured onion. 6/10

  9. The back looks nice, but not the front. I realise that part of it is the bad fit on the mannequin, but still, the back looks so tailored while the front feels bunched together. I would still give it an 8, if it wasn’t for the colour. Peach is one of those colours that I dislike the most, and especially when it comes to clothes. It will have to drop down to 6, just because of that hideous choice.

    6/10

  10. Florence says

    I second bandykullan. The back is lovely, I like the peplum and the V-shaped insert.
    But the front does nothing for me and the colour is decidedly meh.
    5/10

  11. Sarah says

    10/10. I’m imagining it in motion. Those lovely drapes will flow nicely and the fabric will catch the light beautifully. Wouldn’t it be great on a redhead with gold and pearl bracelets?

    • I agree with Sarah! And as a redhead it is one of my favorite colors and one, when I wear it, that I get lots of compliments on. 10/10 for me too.

  12. Tegan says

    It would look gorgeous on a real body. The float silk, that warm color, I could see it heightening that ideal teens body shape. I also think it’s one of those dresses that really needs the full outfit to appreciate. The smart shoes, parasol, hat, gloves, and jewelry would bring this gown from “nice dress” to “sharp outfit” territory.

    And especially well made adds a point.

    9/10 for it needs accessories and a real body

    • Tegan says

      Oh and I’m assuming real flowers would always have been pinned to that corsage – our lady has taste!

  13. Stéphanie says

    Even fighting with the mannequin, I love the shapes and the drapery of this dress. I think that this dress would really flatter a mature woman. I like the minimal trimmings and am particularly fond of the satin edge on the chiffon peplum/overskirt. I’m not so sure about the plainness of of deep V at the back. I’m not sure what it needs, but it seems incomplete to me.
    I think that it would look stunning in movement on a real woman and would just glow under soft lighting. 9/10

  14. At the risk of offending Daniel, I also rate this one 10/10 and agree with those who see it in motion and in lighting.

  15. SueAnne says

    The neckline is a bit bare for my taste, and the back of the skirt looks… Off. I think it may be the gathered bits that bother me? I like the layers on the skirt, though, because dresses that move when you walk are splendid. 8/10.

    (I’m going to assume/pretend that the wearer looked great in this color that gives me, like Daniel, 1980’s bridesmaid dress vibes.)

  16. Alice says

    Very pretty but I wish it were more than one color–the orange is a little strident to me. 7/10.

  17. I like the colour, but then I’m not really old enough to remember ’80s bridesmaid outfits. I also like the use of draping, especially in the skirt. What I’m not completely sold on is the Grecian peplos-effect peplum, but that’s because my modern eye thinks those things don’t flatter the wearer’s backside. Thanks to the previous post, I now know it does flatter the wearer’s backside according to the ideals of the time. 9/10

  18. Bernice says

    Erm… Well. I agree, it’s kind of getting worse every time I scroll up to look at it. I mean, I usually love simplicity, but I’m struggling to get past the fact that any wearer would risk looking like an unfortunate, satin-y, drape-y fillet of salmon. I think that if the dress incorporated other colours or was in, for example, a dark jewel colour it might look a bit more appealing. I do like the bodice, though, and the draping. And those flowers at the waist really need to be a different colour in my opinion, even if they were just white. I’d give it 8/10, because it’s quite similar to a lot of other dresses from the period and I can’t get away from the colour…

  19. Kristin says

    I’ve lurked nefariously (I assume lurking means nefariousness) for some time, but I’m enjoying this series on pre-WWI figures/fashion SO much I had to put my oar in. I give the dress 8/10 because in places it looks to me as though someone got tangled in a recalcitrant bolt of silk, but as others have pointed out, if we could see it in motion it could be seriously elegant.

    Thanks for this fantastic series and a really enjoyable blog!

    Kristin

  20. Angela says

    I like it. It would have to be worn by the right skin tone. Not a leading lady but fine for a chorus member.
    7/10

  21. For some reason I’m looking at this dress and seeing “a woman of a certain age,” which is probably not really fair, but that’s all I can think of now.

  22. Elise says

    I like it. I keep reading comments and keep the it. So there. 9/10. On a real redhead: Bryce Dallas Howard, Bernadette Peters, fracking Anne of Greene Gables…perfection.

  23. Deb C says

    As so often said in these comments, the bodice is too full and droopy. I agree with your assessment that it would suit the low soft bosom as most women in the 1910s naturally possessed and displayed. What I totally dislike is the flower at the waist. I dislike a big, fluffy flower at the waist or point of decollete on any dress of any era. It always looks too bouffant, too clumsy on any dress. I always think of that scene in A Letter to Three Wives where Ann Sothern rips a flower off the very gauche Jeanne Crain’s dress only to have to sew it back on to cover the hole. 5.0 out 10.0

  24. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Hmmmm … I praised the previous dress for its lack of trimmings. But it had the wonderful fabric and crisp seaming going for it.

    But this one looks like the seamstress abandoned it before finishing the trimmings. The stitched down chevron looks like basting needing to be removed, and it needs some contrast to stop looking like an orange ice cream bar.

    6/10 because it might flow wonderfully when you move, but it had no “presence” as a still.

  25. apricots says

    Coming in late to say I really like this dress and think it would look lovely worn by the right person. The colour could be very flattering for the wearer. 9/10.

    I wonder if the use of rayon is because it would have been a relatively new fabric? New and trendy?

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