Last week’s peach-on-peach 1914 evening dress earned its rating almost entirely on how much you liked said shade. If it was too much overtones of 1980s bridesmaids dresses – not so much! I was highly entertained by the wildly varying opinions and some of the descriptions (peach flavoured onion!). Alas, for something so entertaining, it came in with a rather nondescript rating of 7.3 out of 10. The lowest in a long while, but far higher than some of the lowest scores.
This week let us turn from soft peachy pink, to crisp black and white, as we look at philanthropist, heiress, art collector, honourary beekeeper and goat aficionado, Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Coutts.
Angela’s life is remarkable; from inheriting one of the largest fortunes in England (though I’ve always wondered how her four older sisters felt about being left out of it); to using it for a huge range of Very Good Things (many quite unusual and advanced for a lady of her era); to proposing to the 45-years-her-senior Duke of Wellington, fending off the advances of a slew of fortune hunters, and finally marrying a man 25-years-her-junior, even though it meant giving up most of her fortune.
Angela’s dress is made from dimensional black and white plaid, with pleated ruffle trim in black and white framing the full bell sleeves and the bertha, and a faux-lacing effect on the front of the dress.
She wears it with sheer, lacy undersleeves, and carries a delicate lace shawl – an accessories she seems to have particularly favoured, as her other portrait of this period also features one prominently.
Her jewellery is remarkably restrained for one of the richest women in England: a chatelaine pinned to her waist, a simple gold necklace, and a stack of rings on one finger, and a single ring on her other hand.
Even her hair is sleek and subdued, keeping the focus on her face and personality:
Despite the huge range of activities she was involved in, and the potential to hugely influence politics, Angela was always remarkably discreet in her own personal opinions, even in areas (such as religion) where even Victorian ideals of retiring womanhood permitted a strong stance.
Do you think that the dress is speaking for her in the right ways? Just strong enough, with that bold pattern, without being ostentatious? Does that mix of trims and pattern balance with the simple (for the era) accessories? All in all, is the outfit as awesome as the woman?
Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10