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Rate the Dress: Crinoline Era Stripes

Stripes are a classic pattern which appear in almost every era of dress. Some fashion historians have claimed that they are most common and fashionable in eras where there has been upheaval and unrest, and there is a general desire for order and simplicity. My life certainly feels very busy and chaotic at the moment (in a good way), and this week’s striped frock, in a cool and relaxing blue and white colour scheme, just jumped out at me as the right pick for rate the dress. Maybe there is something in the claim!

Last week: an 1890s wedding dress is muted purple with cream and mouse-brown

Everyone loves a bride, but not everyone loves a wedding dress…

Most of you felt there was a lot that was positive to say about the dress as a picture of restrained elegance and practicality. But there was also something not-quite-right about the trim, whether it was an unappealing resemblance to wasps nests, or the suspicion that it was a later add-on that wasn’t up to the general sewing and design standards of the original dress.

The Total: 7.9 out of 10

We’re dropping just a few points each week…

This week: an 1860s day dress (part of a robe a transformation) in blue and white stripes.

This dress, from the collection of Les Arts Décoratifs, is a robe à transformation: a dress with multiple bodices, or alterable bodices, which allows it to be suitable for wearing at different times of day, or at a range of different events. Unfortunately there are no images of the other bodice to this dress available online, so we are rating the day bodice only:

Robe à transformation (day bodice only), 1868-72, Les Arts Décoratifs

Both bodice and skirt are made from a thin, lightweight (probably cotton, judging by how visible the hem is) fabric, in a rather bold blue and white stripe.

Robe à transformation (day bodice only), 1868-72, Les Arts Décoratifs
Robe à transformation (day bodice only), 1868-72, Les Arts Décoratifs

The stripe of the fabric is used to create visual interest and additional patterning, with a V drawing they eye up the back peplum to the curved back bodice panels which flow up the back like wing lines. The same Vs are repeated on the front of the peplum, drawing the eye to the bust darts. On the skirt the stripes show the exact grain of each skirt panel.

Robe à transformation (day bodice only), 1868-72, Les Arts Décoratifs

The stripes and the overall design play tricks with your eye, and your mind. From one angle the dress is almost clownishly playful, from another quite severe and restrained. Is it full of little design details, or austere in its simplicity?

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!)


  1. Deanna says

    Ooh, stripes! It’s mostly lovely, all that light blue and white – the skirt stripes are just a bit “busy” in the side view. And the emphasized color in the hem looks a bit strange from the front view.


  2. Alyssa Hogan says

    The blue and white is pretty, and the oval hoop is one of my favorite silhouettes, though the stripes on the side of the skirt are awkward. It seems the perfect thing to wear to an outdoor event, with a straw hat.

  3. It could use a more elaborate collar, and a (wider? can’t tell if that blue at the waist is one or not) matching belt, but otherwise I quite like this one. A very elegant choice for summer.

    9 out of 10

  4. Tracy Ragland says

    It’s so pretty for spring! I have a couple problems with the skirt, however. First, the stripes meet very awkwardly at the side seams. Given how perfectly the bodice stripes were handled, this seems careless. Also, I would have lightly underlined the wide hem area so that the blue wasn’t so intense there.


  5. Pattie says

    I love this style; not sure about the stripes. 8.75 out of 10.

    I’m learning to see; I love your page

  6. Rachel says

    I love this shape of crinoline-skirts, and blue and white stripes are right up my alley! The stripe matching on the bodice is lovely! All this being said, I’m not crazy about where the bodice and skirt join, or the trim.

    I’ll give it an 8/10

  7. Mandy Duvall says

    These stripes read to my modern eye as very menswear-ish and I love the juxtaposition of that against a very feminine dress (even if it wasn’t the intention of the day). I wish there were a better image of the trim of the bodice.


  8. This would make a great summer dress (perhaps that was what it was made for?), what with is being so light colored and sheer, it would be nice and cool.
    I like dress on the whole, the blue and white stripe is nice and classic.
    The only thing I am not a fan of is the peplum and its accompanying triangular front attachment things (I can’t remember their proper name for the life of me).
    I give it a 9.

  9. Rebecca hileman says

    I see green in the stripes but maybe it’s my computer screen. If there are a few subtle green stripes it would make sense of the green peplum trim. I love the pleats in the skirt but the peplum trim seems heavy. Matching stripes in the sleeves has a nice effect and shows skill. Nice lines. The blue and white fabric is classic. I give it an 8 and wish I could see the other bodices.

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