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Rate the Dress: Moss Green Edwardian Velvet

It’s been so hot in Wellington for the past month, and I long for walks in cool green forests, and mossy swathes under pine trees, and babbling brooks.  Meanwhile, I know that some of you in the Northern Hemisphere are dealing with unusually cold temperatures.  So for this week’s Rate the Dress I chose a moss green velvet Edwardian dress that would hopefully appeal to all of us: cozy enough for winter, in a colour that makes us think of cool things in the summer heat!

Last week: a pink and gold and so-many-florals française

Well, for once you were totally unanimous about one aspect of a garment: the silver-trimmed stomacher that the MFA Boston had paired with the pink floral française was just terrible.  Daniel dubbed it a ‘Brillo pad’ and now I’ll never unsee that…  (also his comment included a truly terrible pun, and I always adore those!).

Other comments were mixed between loving and not loving the trim, and loving the pleats, but not the very square paniers (always a hangup with formal française).  The fabric was generally very popular.

I’m with CR that the back view was so pretty that “it makes my heart happy”.  The front view really bugged me.  All those squiggles!  Nope.

The Total: 8.1 out of 10.

Much more charitable than I would have been!  From the front, it was one of my least favourite française ever.

(which now makes me wonder what my most favourite, which is only available as one back-view photo, actually looks like from the front.  Eeep!)

This week: an Edwardian Afternoon Dress in Moss Green Velvet.

This week’s pick is a type of garment that I love: something lush and decadent, without having to be a ballgown.

This afternoon dress took every bit as many hours as a frothy Edwardian ballgown.   The bodice features shaped cut-outs, and elaborate beading and embellishment.  The beading is worked in sequins and marcasite.  Despite its dark hue, the dress would have sparkled under the gaslights on a dark winter afternoon.  The pale yellow silk taffeta behind the cutouts would have glowed like stained glass.

Even with the sparkling trim, the overall effect is one of restraint.  The dark fabric and modest silhouette balance the sparkle and decadence.  The cutouts, hinting as they do at stained glass, seem more holy than holey, more pious than peek-a-boo.  They also feature fleur de lys, frequently associated with the Virgin Mary in European iconography.

In contrast to the elaborate bodice, the skirt is relatively plain, letting the swathe of luxurious green silk velvet speak for itself.  There is only a hint of trimming at the hem.  It ties the skirt to the bodice, and also may have helped to hide the hemstitching.

What do you think?  Does the pairing of modesty and extravagance tickle your fancy?  Do you find the colour scheme as appealing and evocative as I do?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

30 Comments

  1. It does tickle my fancy, and I like the materials and colours. I’m just not entirely sure the cutouts work as-is (mostly shape-wise), although I can’t think of what an improvement would look like in my eyes.
    8/10, and it’s one of those eights I would not mind wearing.

  2. I love everything about this and would happily wear it to look queenly at the elegant afternoon salons I would hold.

    10

  3. katie says

    Joan of Arc goes to Sherwood Forest.

    A very medieval-maiden-in-a-cuirass, touch-me-not, Victorian High-Church-fantasia kind of dress. Beautiful but severe and not happy. Who might wear it? Dorothea Brooke, someone in a Forster novel, someone in a Trollope novel. Or a Victorian Anne Boleyn:

    “And graven with diamonds in letters plain
    There is written, her fair neck round about:
    Noli me tangere”

    Stunning dress for a tragic heroine. 9.5 for slight costuminess.

  4. Ooooh it’s gorgeous! Lovely colours, a good amount of sparkly beads, and such interesting cutouts!
    I can easily picture it in an art noveau painting, surrounded by curling greenery.

    10/10

  5. hearthrose says

    I am completely in love with this dress. Can you not see the grown Anne of Green Gables, married to her beloved doctor, swanning around in this gown? (The colors practically beg for a redhead).

    The details are to die for, they work with the dress (harmony rather than clashing), and the green velvet is wonderful.

    10/10

    • I agree! And I’m a redhead who would love this dress. I especially like the use of yellow behind the cutouts giving the impression of sunlight through the leaves in a forest.

      10/10

  6. Tegan says

    It’s a nice mild pidgeon breast, which I appreciate – the beading and velvet is too heavy for a severe chest poof. But it’s not ringing any particular bells for me. I’m sure it’s cozy and a delight, and certainly well made and balanced. But not spectacular.

    8/10

  7. Elaine says

    Sumptuous and elegant. The details on the bodice front are a little too elaborate for my taste, but very fashionable for the time. I love the way the beading on the hem and sleeves repeat the theme. 9.5

  8. Stéphanie says

    This dress makes me think of those turn of the century does medieval paintings. I love velvet, and I love the colour and the restraint and the beaded cut work, but there is something about it that just says armour to me. The fleur de lys say Jeanne d’Arc. Perhaps if it were accessorised with a sword, shield and helmet? Maybe the woman who wore it had a literary bent (that would certainly fit Hearthrose’s imagining of Anne of Greesn Gables in this dress). I started out mostly meh, but have talked myself into the dress.
    8/10 (9.5 when I add an imaginary sword. 🙂 )

  9. Katie says

    I love the color of the main dress, but immensely dislike the bright yellow cutouts. I think if they weren’t there, or were in a darker color (a rich brown) or another shade of green it would be wonderful and very gothic.
    I also have a funny feeling that the hem is missing a row of beaded trim. It looks a bit picked off and imbalanced, just below the one row of trim. I can imagine someone in the leaner times of the early/mid twentieth century “borrowing” the beaded pieces for their own evening gown.
    8/10

  10. I so agree with Stéphanie that the immediate association is armor.

    The green velvet fabric makes me want to reach out and stroke it and would love to wear it.

    I think what prevents me from complete approval is the heaviness of the trim, which is what leads to the impression of armor. That impression goes against the suppleness of the fabric and leads me to think that it would be very heavy to wear, although the skirt embroidery has a much more delicate impression.

    8.5 of 10

  11. Tereza says

    I´m sorry for such a geeky comment but this looks 100 % Game of Thrones to me! A dress for sure, but it has a quite warrior-y feeling. I would change those fleur-de-lys to more bear-like motifs and make Dacey Mormont wear it to the Red Wedding. (Make a Google image search for “Dacey Mormont Amok” and see: it´s pretty close, isn´t it?) She is a character I quite like and the TV show pretends she never existed — but hey, I don´t care about them and now I even now what she wore!
    9/10 (10/10 if there were the bears)

    • Tereza says

      (Sorry for the typo: “know”, not “now”. And also, the embroidery on the bottom hem reminds me of seismography or medical monitors… there should rather have been bears, really.)

  12. Madeleine says

    This dress is just sumptuous! I love everything about it (the dress, itself, anyway; if I had to wear it myself the high, choking collar would be unbearable – but I can’t fault the dress for that!) The muted but rich color of the velvet is stunning. The sleeves are GORGEOUS! The way the velvet reaches a luxurious fullness that is then caught up in the beautiful, ornate cuffs … ahhhhh! The marcasite beading is really sparkly and lovely. My only issue – and it’s tiny – is the yellow fabric behind the cut-outs. It seems somehow ‘spoiled’. Like the fabric has yellowed with age. I think I might have preferred an ivory or nude backing fabric; possibly even a medium, steely grey satin. I think this is just a luxuriously beautiful dress.

    9.5

  13. The workmanship on this gown is amazing–it must have cost a king’s ransom. I wish my monitor rendered the color of the velvet better; it looks mostly black on my screen. Ah, well.

    The silhouette is splendid. The velvet, what I can see of it, is lush, and I’m willing to assume it’s moss green, though my monitor renders it poorly.

    And the beading on the bodice! It looks almost like high-quality wrought iron, but it sparkles! I would like to have seen it under candlelight, as the Dreamstress suggests. And I like the ribbon sash belt. Anything more would have been excessive.

    My only caveat is that all of this beauty is very forbidding. Though it is in an Italian museum, the austerity of the decoration is Spanish in quality; heavy, somber, and extremely formal. The high collar and wide cuffs are the height of propriety–and looks like formal wear for a female prison warden.

    It is perfect in its way and beautiful–but it isn’t appealing, in a broad sense. Not at all. Only the sternest and most strong-willed of women would do well to wear this gown. I can’t decide whether to make any deduction for that or not. I think, upon reflection, that I cannot in conscience make any deduction, since it is beautiful and perfect of its kind. I would, however, feel impelled to warm most women who might be thinking of wearing it (among whom I do not number).

    10 out of 10.

  14. I love the green. The dress itself is lovely. The cutouts I don’t like however. The first impression I got was that it was something a knight should wear (although, in all my research, I can’t recall anyone medieval wearing anything even remotely similar!) Still, I don’t like the association or the severity of them.

    5/10

  15. Rachel says

    I love the shape and ornamentation, but I’m afraid the colors don’t work so well for me. On my screen, the green is a very dark olive that seems to be fighting the cool blue embellishments. Though I think even a hunter green wouldn’t have worked for me here either.

    As much as I like the embellishment on the bodice, it’s reminding me of those metal registers that heat the upper floors in old houses. Which I guess is appropriate for a winter dress?

    That little side bow doesn’t need to be there, and it knows it.

    But overall, what this dress does well, it just does so well.

    8

  16. This is beautiful! Definitely 10 out of 10. Perhaps inspired by one of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings? particularly one with Elizabeth Siddal and her flaming locks.

    and besides, it is warm. What is not to like? I am always looking for something beautiful but warm. It doesn’t happen much nowadays.

  17. Mairi McCloud says

    It’s lovely! I love the restrained beauty of it and give it a 10

  18. WENDY says

    I like the simplicity of line combined with the full-on beading. Plus i am always a sucker for moss-green velvet. 8/10.

  19. Heather says

    I love this dress! The color is beautiful and the silhouette is clean and elegant. I also love the plain skirt paired with the more elaborate bodice.
    10/10

  20. Maire Smith says

    That’s fantastic. I love it. I want a modern dress with that sort of decoration and fabric.

    10/10

  21. april pressley says

    It is beautiful, lovely work and adore the mix of colours and textures. Your vision of it under gaslights in a dark winter afternoon fairly sets it off a treat.
    10/10

  22. KH_Tas says

    I like most of it, but the bodice is too much. Replace the lower line of bodice cut-outs with plain fabric and I’d like it a lot more. Colours are nice and velvet is fun.

    8.5

  23. Anne Gloucester says

    I love it – one of the most beautiful gowns I have seen. The color, the material, the stitching – everything goes so beautiful together.

    10/10

  24. A dress gets 10/10 from me when my hands itch to recreate it. YUMMY!!! I really dislike jewel toned dresses with lots of black trim as they read gawdy to me, but a dark trim on a dark colour really pops my cork. The soft wheaten silk behind the cut out work I think is necessary to add some light to all the dark. And it works.
    What I appreciate HUGELY is there is no lace. So many Edwardian gowns are amazing but they just have to have some frothy lace that to my eye doesn’t gel at all. This dress is boldly, subtly, deliciously mediaeval fantasy inspired fabulosity.

  25. Kit Lough Eltringham says

    I’ve been peering at this dress all week – and just cannot fault it. It’s absolutely and utterly perfect in every way – a beautiful design, a wonderful choice of colours and materials, the confidence to pair a bodice that’s beaded within an inch of its life with such a severely plain skirt and sleeves, the fact that it makes me want to recreate it even though I loathe sewing velvet and haven’t the patience for beading anything larger than a cat collar. Superb!
    10

  26. This is basically my favorite period and color combination! I also am looking for more suggestions for not all-over Edwardian lace and I have some green velvet (not enough sadly) looking for a home. I’m not sure how I feel about the belt, but it made me very happy so 10/10.

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