For entry #2 in ‘Rate all the Party Dresses’, the historical version of that holiday classic, the ‘day to night dress’. This frock would be equally at home at an afternoon reception, and an elegant evening soiree.
Last week: an 1800s dress – and the shoes to match
A lot of you did love last weeks frock, and its shoes, but it wasn’t quite as popular as the dress it followed. It was just a tiny bit too dull (or high waisted, or filmy) for some of you – the curse of Regency evening dresses strikes again!
The Total: 8.8 out of 10
Not that much of a curse though – still an eminently respectable rating!
This week: an 1865 Robe à transformation
This mid 1860s dress comes with both a day and evening bodice, to make best use of the huge amount of fabric required for the full skirt.
This dress could also be used for day events, with undersleeves and a guimpe to fill the neckline – both of fabric as luxurious and delicate as the silk of the dress, because the fabric makes it clear this is a dress for special occasions, no matter what time of day.
This style of dress, with multiple bodices was very common from the 1860s until the 1890s. In an era where fabric was the primary cost of a dress, and where different times of day and different social occasions required different necklines and sleeve lengths, commissioning a second bodice, which requires relatively little fabric, was a small cost compared to the expense of the skirt fabric.
The low cut, short sleeved bodice would have been appropriate for a ball, or a very formal nighttime event.
For a slightly less formal evening event, or a formal afternoon event, the day bodice could be worn with the neckline left open.
The ochre sash worn with the day dress is an interesting addition, and may have darkened significantly. Interestingly, there appears to be an under-lining of the same ochre under the skirt. Peeks of it are visible at the front of the dress.
The large unadorned skirt allows the two bodices to have quite different design details. The day bodice is fairly simple, providing a frame for a set of gorgeous whitework embroidery or lace guimpe and engageantes. The evening bodice is more elaborate, with rouleux, van dyke-esque trim, sculptural sleeves that combine pleats and puffs, and a very extravagant butt-bow, which hints at the bustle fashions to come.
Although its not always ideal in a museum garment, this dress rather charmingly shows some of the evidence of the parties it has attended. There are a few visible marks on the skirt, among other signs of wear.
What do you think of this palest lilac and ivory confection, in both its iterations?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting. It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.
(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5. I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it! And 0 is not on a scale of 1 to 10. Thanks in advance!)