Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Oversized stripes in 1912

Last week disappeared in a haze of overwork, and this week isn’t looking like it’s going to be much better (last week of term is stressful for everyone…)

So this week’s Rate the Dress is brought to you by ‘it was the first one I randomly selected from my ‘this would work for Rate the Dress’ list.

Last-last week: a yellow silk 1780s redingote

Many of you liked it, but many of you thought it was nice, but boring. And nobody loved it – not a single 10.

The Total: 8 out of 10

Pretty good, but not fabulous from a usually favourite era.

This week: a 1912 afternoon dress by Jeanne Hallee

Despite being a random selection, this afternoon dress does flow on rather nicely from last week’s pick. The frock, with its wrapped fichu collar, and open overskirt, is a perfect example of 1910s-does-18th century historicism.

Afternoon dress, Jeanne Hallée (French, 1880–1914), 1912, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.49.2.4 detail

The rest of the dress, is, of course, pure 1912: high waist, slim skirt, high collar and layers of trim, with quirky details like skirt pick ups, and innovative details like cut-on kimono sleeves.

Afternoon dress, Jeanne Hallée (French, 1880–1914), 1912, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.49.2.4 detail
Afternoon dress, Jeanne Hallée (French, 1880–1914), 1912, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.49.2.4 detail

I’d always assumed this dress was wide stripes, but on closer inspection, its actually stripes over a floral pattern.

Afternoon dress, Jeanne Hallée (French, 1880–1914), 1912, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.49.2.4 detail

What do you think?

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.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. 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. I like it, but it’s not exciting – it’s a bit too much the perfect 1910s dress, where “perfect” means “perfectly of its time” rather than “perfectly what I would like”.
    It’s close, but it’s also hitting on the early 20th century notes I find a bit dowdy, so it doesn’t excite me as much as the blue-and-white fabric makes me wish it did.

    • But it occurs to me it is so perfectly of its time that as a film costume or recreation it would probably rate a 10 from me. Is it strange that I find it less of an achievement in an extant dress?

  2. I’ve always liked the ease of early 1900s wear, and I find this a lovel example.

    The sharp contrast of black/white and smooth/textured makes for dignified drama.

    I especially like the almost architectural quality of the bands of lace on the bodice.

    9 of 10

  3. This week’s dress is pleasant enough, but it has an unfinished look about it–kind of like a dressing gown being worn over the *real* dress. It doesn’t help matters that the fichu is wrapped over the purple sash.

    I assume that the fact that the dress looks rumpled is a display problem and that it would look better if properly steamed, but I still don’t see anything thrilling here.

    6.5 out of 10.

    P.S. I hope you get out from under all the work soon!

    • Buttercup says

      I would love this more if it was all in the striped fabric. I also think it looks like a dressing gown worn over a dress. For the the stripes are the most striking part of the dress and I can live without the other detail. . 7/10

  4. I like it. It’s elegant and restrained, but light and unusual, with the purple stripes. I would definitely wear it. 9/10


  5. Rachel says

    Summery stripes, yes. High wide belt, yes. Skirt nonsense, yes. But I just don’t like that darn front view. I think the main problem is that the fichu effect and the pale lacy-ness feels dowdy. Especially next to the fresh not-quite stripes and the easy, flowing silhouette.

    The dress is having an argument with itself. At first I thought the lacy part was going to win, but, looking again, I do like so many other elements. And the dress certainly isn’t ugly or distasteful – it’s just not for me.


  6. I like this one. Not LOVE like I have others, but a nice dress in itself. 8/10.
    Good luck with your tasks this week!

  7. Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes yes yes yesyesyesyes! Blue! Cream! Buttons! Lace! Stripes! Wraps!

    Aside from its general greatness, it reminds me very much of the shabby-chic nautical aesthetic of the early 2010s, which makes me smile because I really wanted to be someone who wore shabby-chic nautical dresses in the early 2010s. Instead, I was a student who wore multiple insulating layers and hauled a heavy purple backpack from one end of campus to the other. This dress is like the 1910s version of who I wanted to be.


  8. Christina Kinsey says

    Pretty dress, I agree about the shabby chic look, it is delicate and subtle without looking washed out. I would prefer the fichu tucked in and for myself a bit more flare in the skirt, but that’s me in 2019. On the whole l would wear this, so a definite 8.5

  9. Anna says

    I love it. I don’t remotely have the build for this style (I’m a Hobbit, not an elf) but if I did I would definitely want to wear this


  10. Jill Corbie says

    Huh. All the details of this dress are really neat but somehow for me they don’t add up. I can imagine liking it more if the striped parts were opaque rather than sheer– it seems flimsy and non-committal.


  11. Bridget says

    I usually like this sort of thing, but the overlap/crisscross of the lace trim in front doesn’t agree with the belt and gathered bodice IMO. I think it’s the shape. The lace trim and tucker/chemisette make a big triangle shape, which doesn’t look good. with the soft square shape of the gathered bodice. I feel like the lace trim should have crossed much higher on the bodice(maybe an inch above nipple level), and then the lace should have gone under the belt instead of over it. The striped fabric is ok, but not my favorite. The lace itself is beautiful, even if I don’t like how it is used.

  12. Hayley says

    There is something strangely Militant Suffragette-esque about this dress. On my computer the stripes look quite purple, the stripes are very prison-chic, and the crisscross of the lace trim reminds me of a bandolier. DEEDS NOT WORDS!!!!!

    However as I’m sure that’s not the look the wearer was actually going for, can’t score it as highly as I’d like to.

  13. I’m very close to liking this dress, because it has a lot of good things going on, but I just don’t. The design is a bizarre hodge-podge of things that don’t quite belong together. The historicism of the fichu-like front and the fiddly lace detailing are a fine combination if that’s the sort of look you’re going for, but then you add in those bold spot-me-in-a-crowd stripes (on top of floral, for some reason?) and I really don’t know what to make of it.

    Replace the unsuitable striped sheer with a more restrained solid sheer or satin and you’d have a dress that is very pretty and tasteful, if somewhat unremarkable. Replace the fussy lace bits with cleaner self-fabric finishing and you’d have a dress that is bold and very chique, if a bit bawdy. Either would have gotten a much higher score than this weird Frankenstein, which seems to retain the shortcomings of both type of gown without evoking the charms of either.

    I think the right woman wearing the right hat could pull this dress off very becomingly–after all, it is an odd dress but some of the most beautiful women are very odd. But just looking at this dress as it is here–badly displayed on a mannequin–it’s hard to imagine who that woman might have been.

    7/10, though, because despite my whinging, this gown really is a lot of good things that just happen not to mesh properly, and anyway I have to commend the designer’s courage.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    It’s so close, but …
    The unfortunate fichu-sash collision (which may be the fault of the dresser)
    The stripes look dirty because of the underlying floral print


  15. dropping stitches says

    I like all the elements of it (stripes, florals, lace, sheer fabrics) but not together. The lace crossed at the waist isn’t working. I do think this would be nice on a hot day. It has a strolling-along-the-boardwalk style that I like.


  16. I actually quite like it! Pick-ups have never been my favourite, but the stripe and subtle floral pattern is enough for me to get over it. The lace is a little odd, though…


  17. Steph says

    At first I found the crumples distracting, then I came to like them. It makes it more real than a perfectly pressed dress. As of the wearer had just arisen after lying down with a bad headache, or just pulled it from the laundry.

  18. Kathy Hanyok says

    With the stripes and the striped pattern of the lace, there’s too much texture. The untucked fichu bothers me, too untidy. I like the tuck up of the skirt in the back and the overall overskirt design but it looks tired. Sorry this is late. Haven’t been able to find you on my feed. 7/10

Comments are closed.