It’s that time again: our weekly look at an example of historical fashion, where we discuss its aesthetic merits within the context of its time.
Last week’s discussion around a gold lace 1920s dress got very…weird. Comments mainly centred (ha ha) around how the hip-level centre-front blue-silk bow would have been perceived in the 1920s. Was it completely innocent, or a very risqué fig leaf? (I’m on team ‘innocent within the context of its time’. After all, we live in a time where you can put a vertical seam with ruching right under a woman’s bottom, specifically to highlight said bottom, on a wedding dress, and no-one makes comments about poop!).
Fig-leaf analogies I expected, but then Daniel said it made him think of something utterly repulsive – so naturally my Rate-the-Dress reading friend group has been wracking our combined and considerable imaginations for the last week to figure out what it might be (we’ve kept the discussion off the blog, in the interests of good taste), and we’ve come up completely blank (thank goodness? Innocence may be bliss in this case!).
So, with divided opinions on the bow placement and the shoulder ornamentation, but a predominant approval of the attractiveness of the lace and colours (with a few noteworthy exceptions), the dress managed a round 7 out of 10. We had a string of 8.5 and aboves for a while, but the last few have been striking out!
For this week’s choice I’ve picked up the vivid hues of last week’s dress, and carried them through in a very bright green changeable silk gown from the 1840s
Like much of 1840s fashion for women, this example features an elaborately embellished bodice and sleeves balanced by a fairly simple bell-shaped skirt. The only skirt ornamentation is symmetrical lines of rosette bows which frame the centre front, with one set of bows almost hidden in the deep skirt fold facing the camera.
I find this a very interesting example of 1840s fashion both for the bold hue, and for the fascinating sleeve decorations with their combinations of ruffles, lacing, and tassels:
The lower sleeve lacing looks practical in terms of allowing a very slim lower sleeve fit, and not at all practical in terms of having heavy hanging tassels swinging around your hands as you moved them. This is clearly a dress for a woman of leisure making a statement.
There is an interesting line running down the side back which hints at a seam, and perhaps piecing, despite all other aspects of the dress indicating a lavish use of fabric.
What do you think? As an example of 1840s historical fashion for women, does this dress lift your spirits, or leave you feeling a bit green and queasy?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10