Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Bustle Era Border Print

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/107809

Last week’s Rate the Dress was an evening dress for an event that didn’t usually call for evening wear. This week’s Rate the Dress is a morning dress for…well, presumably exactly what a morning dress was usually worn for.

Last Week: a 1920s evening-dress as wedding-dress 

Last week’s wedding dress may have been a very unconventional choice, but it was a successful one! Almost everyone loved it, with the few slightly lower scores (it’s a good dress when 8 is the low score!) coming from people who just don’t like the 20s, and couldn’t quite get behind the corsage.

The Total: 9.6 out of 10

Resounding approval for the brides pick!

This week: a first-bustle-era morning dress in border-print cotton

This week I present an 1870s morning dress in a striking border-print cotton with trompe l’oeil ruffle effect.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

In the 1870s a morning (not to be confused with mourning!) dress was an informal dress, usually made in less dressy fabrics, such as cotton. A morning dress was worn at home in the earlier part of the day, before changing for the more formal events of the afternoon, such as visiting, attending events, or shopping.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

Morning dresses were less deshabille than dressing gowns (also worn in the morning) and were considered tidy and formal enough for women to receive visitors who showed up before the prescribed visiting hours (even unknown visitors of the opposite gender) in.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

For less well-off women, who had to do their own tidying and chores in the morning, morning dresses were meant to be practical affairs: simple frocks in washable cotton with small prints on darker grounds, which would hide small marks and stains.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

This morning dress clearly came from the wardrobe of a woman of leisure, with maids to press all her ruffles, and a to-do list totally devoid of anything likely to stain or spot her, unless it was a cup of tea or ink from her morning correspondence.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

The fabric is exceptional, and has been used lavishly, and with much care and planning.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

Note that it’s been painstakingly pieced along the bottom edge of the overskirt, and on the back ‘sash’ pieces, to provide a simpler border with only the trompe l’oeil ruffle.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

The Metropolitan Museum of Art seems to have gone very light on the pressing and de-creasing aspects of this dress, possibly because the fabric appears to be a polished cotton, which creases easily and doesn’t always react so well to un-creasing methods (especially after 130 years).

As always, please don’t rate the dress on the museum’s presentation.

Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b
Morning Dress, 1870s, American, cotton, Gift of Mrs. Phillip H. Gray, 1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.50.105.18a, b

What do you think? Would you bounce out of bed at the thought of wearing this? Or are you not-a-morning-person when it comes to this dress?

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 com

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