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Rate the Dress: Edwardian Rose

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

IMPORTANT:

Some of the comments on this post (now deleted) were so out of hand I’m putting an extra warning up here.

Your rating can be very poor numerically, but your comment still has to be kind.

If your comment ventures into body-shaming or slut-shaming it will be deleted. If it’s marginal it will be edited to comply with basic standards of taste and kindness. If you think that being super negative and coming up with insulting analogies makes you clever 1) you’re wrong, it makes me think exactly the opposite (default negativity is lazy and based on the mistaken belief that disliking things makes you look smart – a position only held by not very smart people) and 2) I’ll delete your comment.

The goal of Rate the Dress is to spread historical knowledge and to give us all a chance to look at the details of garments, and to think about why they were used, and were considered fashionable and attractive, in an entertaining way. To those who contribute to this goal: hooray! Thank you for being awesome ❤️❤️❤️

And back to our usual programming…

This week’s Rate the Dress is a late Edwardian day ensemble that combines the short oversleeves of last week’s 1840s dress, with a variation on the [extremely unpopular] tromp l’oeil fichu effect of the week before, all in a fashionable shape of deep rose pink.

Last Week: an early 1840s dress with blue stripes 

Last week’s 1840s dress was either very popular on almost all counts, or not popular, because you didn’t like the drab colour. Pale muted shades were just so popular in the 1840s.

The Total: 8.7 out of 10

A serious improvement on the last few weeks.

This week: a 1906 day ensemble in deep pink

This week’s pick is a day ensemble featuring the simple, slim, fitted cut that became fashionable in about 1906.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

This example uses a combination of princess seams and inset panels to wrap the figure at the waist, flare out into a swishing skirt at the hem, and release in gathers to provide fullness at the bust.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The seaming and fit are both highlighted and hidden by soutache braid, applied in swirls and curlicues across the bodice and down the skirt.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The dress is made of wool twill, and comes complete with an bobble-trimmed indoor jacket: an extra layer of warm and formality.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The cut of the jacket is simple, but fashionable, with cut on sleeves that reflect the Edwardian interest in Japonisme, and back seams that add extra flare to the jacket’s hem, and echo the swish of the skirt panels.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The bobbles that trim the neck and sleeves of the jacket are repeated on the front of the jacket, dangling like little clusters of berries from the upper bust.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

Dangling trims on the bust were all the rage in 1906-9. The dress also features strips of silk terminating in tassels which wrap around the neckline, weave in and out of the front bodice, and hang from the bust. They repeat the weaving in and out at the back bodice, and join together above the back waist in one tassel.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

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.

100 Comments

  1. I love it, the shaping is gorgeous, even the boob tassles as some have called them actually work on this since it’s not for a well endowed woman. If it was for someone with a larger cup size then it’d be a bit much. I even like the cape, but not the bobbles; however even those don’t kill it.
    9.5/10

  2. Mariana says

    Like others, I don’t care much for the front tassels, although I also don’t find them in any way vulgar or anything like that. I also don’t love the lace neck piece, although I suspect this has much to do with age and it was likely much prettier new. Personally I don’t love the shape of the wrap, although the bobble fringe is kind of fun and whimsical.

    Now, with that out of the way, on to what I LOVE about this dress!! I love the fabric, and the color is to die for! I’m often not a fan of pink, but this is such a scrumptious raspberry sorbet color that I just want to eat it up! I love that there’s enough blue in the pink to feel rich and refined and not cloying, and I think it would be a flattering color on a good range of people. I absolutely adore the soutache, and I think everywhere it occurs it was executed to great effect. I appreciate that there aren’t a huge number of separate elements to blend together, and that the ones that are there are used well enough to not feel blank or underdecorated despite that. I love that this dress feels simple, intricate, refined, and rich all at the same time, which isn’t an easy balance to strike!!

    I feel I do need to take off one point for the shape of the wrap and the tassels, but overall I’ve seen very few RTDs that I’ve loved this much. Very beautiful!

    9/10

  3. Claire Payne says

    I found the comments about the tassels fascinating. It is so true how perceptions change over time. I’m not a lover of tassels mostly because I associate them with curtain cords so I took a point off. Like so many of the other comments, I love the shade of red, so flattering, and the embroidery gives it the detail it needs. I love the shape, the flare of the skirt, the fit of the waist and I would love a dress with sleeves like this. I would wear this dress and swish about in it. I love the coat too but it hides the shape of the dress. If I had a waist like that I wouldn’t want to hide it under a coat. The coat trim isn’t to my usual taste but I do like it in this instance. Rather fun and like the embroidery, it elevates the garment. This would have been a 10 out of 10 from me but with the tassels it is a…

    9 out of 10

  4. Buttercup says

    This dress is lovely. The tassels just seem a bit frivolous but maybe that was their jam back then. I love the colour and the style is very feminine. I think most women would feel pretty in this dress. 9/10

  5. Sorry you are having to deal with such puerility!

    Do you think the lace has changed colour over time? I feel an ivory would be a much better accompaniment to the rest of the dress.
    Like others, I was not enamoured of the front tassels – perhaps if they were joined as with the back tassels, carrying through the line of lighter pink from the neckline, they would look more incorporated into the garment and less like an unexpected add-on.
    But that matching jacket! I would overlook much for the sake of that elegant jacket. I am not generally a fan of bobbles but this may have changed my mind.
    I like the way the Edwardian era (and, I guess, others) plays with the contrast of tight and full, e.g. the tight sleeves of the dress under the loose sleeves of the jacket.
    9.5/10

  6. Susan says

    The coat adds a rather academic flare to this costume – perhaps it was worn by the artistic, avant-garde headmistress of a girl’s boarding school, which offered instruction in interpretive dance, along with academics. It would set off a mortar-board nicely. The color is strong, but sumptuous, and I like the lines of both the dress and jacket.

    But oh, those tassels!

    So – it’s an 8 for me. Take off the tassels, and it would be a 9.

  7. Really lovely. The color and drape of the fabric work so well together – sculptural but still light! Also I love the hem treatment. Such elegance! 9 out of 10

  8. Teri Lynn says

    I would love to have that pattern for the coat/jacket. 7/10. Tassles on furniture only.

  9. Anne says

    I like the dress a lot – its colour and lines, and all the exquisite work that has gone into it – it’s just lovely. I have no problem with the tassels – actually, I think they look quite elegant, like a little scarf hanging down – though I agree about the problem of eating soup. I LOVE the jacket! Those bobbles!
    10

  10. Disien says

    Stunning workmanship on this dress. And I love the colour. The overjacket is completely divine.

    I wasn’t sure how I felt about the lace. the effect on the dress is quite jarring, so I was going to take a point off for that. But once the jacket is on, the lace looks much better, so I’m only taking half a point off.

    As for the tassles….

    ….the tassel at the back is wonderful. But the two at the front are just awful. If they’d been joined like the one at the back, it might have worked. But the way they are hanging down is like something you’d find on a dance hall/circus/costume, and detracts from the gorgeous elements of this outfit. So a whole point off for that.

    All up, it’s a 7.5 from me.

  11. Veronica says

    I adore this colour, and the braid detailing is lovely. The cape I’m not so sure about, but I love the overall silhouette – it would certainly make a striking outfit!
    Sorry to hear some issues with the comments; warmest of regards to you and your whānau. Kia kaha.
    8

  12. Rateadress says

    If I may add this to my comment: I don’t think, those long strings of pearls, I‘d put through the openings have to be rose colored. They could be classic pearl white, since this would talk with the creme colored collar. And I‘d put more pearl necklaces, loose ones as well as close ones around the neck. Just playing a around a bit with pearls, but in keeping with the Edwardian proportions.

  13. Heather says

    I actually gasped when I scrolled down and saw the matching jacket. Love this whole ensemble. I think I might only like it more if it were a different color. Even though I do love pinks, this is just a little too much for me. 9/10

  14. Claire Irvine says

    I really really like this dress. I love the soutache braid, I love the cut of the bodice and the skirt. I’m not a huge fan on the front tassels, maybe they would be better if they were in the same colour fabric as the dress? I like the way that ribbon highlights the neck and back though. I love the jacket, I could totally see it being worn today over a white shirt and some jeans. I do think the jacket in combination with the dress is too much, I would personally wear it with a contrasting skirt and/or dress.

    I really do love soutache braid.

    9.5/10

  15. Siobhan says

    I love the simple elegance of the cut and the colour is lovely! Always love a good bit of soutache too. I’m not convinced about the tassels though. I actually noticed the back one before the front ones and it just seemed unnecessary to me. All in all though a beautiful dress!

    9.5/10

  16. Madeleine Rose says

    I love everything about this dress! I love it so much that I’m commenting for the first time in a very long time. That muted red is just luscious to me. The tone-on-tone trim is both extravagant and subtle. The jacket – YES!! I positively covet the jacket! Honestly, if the lace at the upper chest and neck were removed, and the length were shortened just enough to get it off the ground, I would be thrilled to wear it today. I just love this dress! Thank you for sharing it.

    A full 10 of 10!

  17. Alyssa Janco says

    It’s overall so lovely! The back of the bodice is a true work of art. I, like many others, wish the faux-fichu tassels came together in the front (though that would cover up some of the detailing)—we just can’t unsee some things with a modern eye, like how a notebook in a pocket of a period show can’t be unseen as “the actor forgot to take their phone out of their pocket”. I also wish the pink accents traveled farther down the dress, and showed up at least somehow on the jacket!

    8/10

  18. ElOmbu says

    This raspberry sherbet-colored dress has such a spectacular shape–it’s one I find particularly flattering, and I especially like that it doesn’t seem to be as pigeon-breasty as many dresses of this era area. The soutache is beautiful. The cape is also fabulous, and I love the little bobbles.
    9/10

  19. nofixedstars says

    oh, this is a lovely thing! to me, anyway… it exemplifies so much of what i love about the influences of art nouveau on dress: those gorgeous sinuous soutache trim lines, the flowing quality of its lines overall, including the adorable matching over-jacket. i love nearly everything about this frock. the only quibbles i have are the colour, which is not my favourite (i’m not terribly into pink on the whole); but it is a deep, rich rose shade that doesn’t look twee. and one tiny detail that i think could have been better judged: the way the decorative neckline pieces come out of the fabric on the bodice pretty much right on the breasts of the gown’s wearer…they work on the back, where it makes a pretty little tasseled bit, but are less engaging as breast ornaments. i almost wondered if perhaps they were meant to be shown differently, if one drew the fabric more tightly at the back, giving longer bits at the front which could be tied on the bodice. but it is probably shown as intended. still, a very lovely gown to me.

    i can’t imagine what about this could provoke slut-shaming or body-negative comments? to me there is nothing exigent about the dress that leads one down that path? but then i don’t believe in slut-shaming or commenting unfavourably on someone’s body. it’s always…disappointing…when other women do that. the world is a peculiar place…

    rating: 9/10

  20. Kate says

    Is “bobble” the technical term for the trim composed of little balls of thread?

    For the dress, I love it. The skirt looks like it would flare out gorgeously as the wearer twirled, and the twirlability (to coin a word) of a skirt is an important factor for me. The looseness of a the jacket makes a nice contrast to the tighter-fitted bodice. I can also imagine a lady who didn’t pack quite as well for a trip as she thought she had wearing the jacket as a dressing gown, so extra points for versatility!

    9/10

  21. Not my favorite. I love how the skirt hangs and the bodice is fitted through the waist. I like the over jacket/cape. The color does not thrill me and the tassels unfortunate. I would rate it a 5

  22. Clare Sassoon says

    Amazing dress! I’ve never posted on this sort of space before but this dress is remarkable! 10/10! I have a question about the length. In the front it’s off the ground but from the side to the rear it’s trailing on the ground. As a day dress it would have got the lion’s share of wear. What reinforcements are there to keep it from wearing through where it touches the ground, or getting dirty from dragging along the ground? Fashion changes we’re not as fast as they are today so presumably they would’ve worn this dress for a longer period of time.

  23. haikwoshevo says

    I love the dress – and the jacket is glorious! I’m taking off a half point because I don’t like the tassels on the front, but if you’re going to have front tassels, I have a hard time imagining a better place for them.

    9.5

  24. Caitlin Burke says

    High marks overall from me. Absolutely loaded with details I’d never wear (definitely not my period), especially the pendulous “dugs” – such a funny contrast with the elegant figure, which is so streamlined – but very lovely as an aesthetic object. (I agree with Kathy Hanyok that the tassels would be saved by being treated the same way as the back – I always like a v-shape there.) But man I love that color, and I love that coat, although I agree with other comments that see it as a departure from the overall tone of the dress itself. (Disclosure: I am a bit matronly, so!)

  25. Cecilia says

    I Love it! Especially the soutache pattern and the interesting cut of the bodice. It’s just the kind of outfit I would imagine a 1906 professor Umbridge (Harry Potter reference) would wear, tassels and all!
    10/10

  26. C. M. Butler says

    I think the color is beautiful (and I’m not really a fan of pink usually!) and I LOVE the tassel at the back – that’s what drew my eye the most. The tassels at the front are trickier, perhaps it’s my modern sensibility sneaking in… but you know what, I think I still like them, if only for being kind of weird! The shape of the dress as a whole isn’t my favorite, but the fitted waist and flaring skirt is lovely.

    8/10

  27. Sophie says

    The dress on its own is lovely in terms of its lines, the soutache braid, the panels at the waist and the gathers above–an 8.5 or a 9 on its own. I adore the jacket, especially in combination with the dress. The bobbles on the edge give the jacket enough definition to differentiate it visually from the dress, while the braid ties the two garments together. The jacket and dress in combination make it a 10 for me.

    I’m very curious about the fastenings. I can see the fastenings on the back of the skirt below the waist but couldn’t discern any fastenings on the back of the bodice. It could very well be that the angle of the photo hides the fastenings, or perhaps they’re just that cleverly disguised.

    10/10

  28. lulubella says

    Love. Would wear … SANS coat. Would have switched the tassle set up – double in back / single in front. So for that 9 out 10.

  29. fidelio says

    This must have been a wonderful dress to move in; the basic line is so simple, without complications that would keep you from doing things. The only thing that keeps me from searching my stash and reaching for graph paper is the high neck, but I can manage to admire this for what it is, and be relived to skip stitching down the soutache.

    I’m with you on the tassels; what we see is not what they were seeing, although I suspect from the cut this had a certain oomph for onlookers.

    And I wonder whether we should look at the shape here as part of the advance of Rational Dress ideas into the mainstream.

  30. Lylassandra says

    I don’t normally like pink, but this dress is charming! I love the lines and most of the surface decoration– like most, I don’t like the front tassels, but I do like the ones in the back. I wonder if the ones in the front originally met in a V as well? That would look a lot better. Don’t much care for the jacket, either– it just looks ungraceful and dumpy over such a lovely, close-fitting silhouette.

    Two points off for the tassels and jacket, but the elegance of the rest still gives it a 8/10 from me.

  31. Valhalla says

    I like both the dress and the jacket a lot; I’m not even bothered too much by the tassels, but I would have preferred them in the same shade as the dress and soutache.

    I’m a bit surprised that nobody commented on the sleeves: at first I felt they were a bit odd, but I’ve grown to like them.

    9.5

  32. Marcella Rensi says

    I love the color, the silhouette, the embroidery, and the part of the ribbon/collar in the neckline. Like many, the “bell pulls” in the front and back leave me a little baffled. Sometimes I come up with “creative” elements on garments that look wonderful in my mind and in my sketches, but are complete fails on actual garments. To me, those fall into that category. Great element in concept, but jarring interruptions in an otherwise harmonious whole in practice. The jacket also seems like it’s from a different era, or a different wearer than the skirt. Clearly the original maker/wearer didn’t feel that way, and I hope she thoroughly enjoyed wearing the garments. I’ll rate the combination 6 out of 10.

  33. Jamie says

    I think it’s beautiful and incredible, with so many details but not looking like it’s over-done. The color is rich and comfortable — I would wear it in an instant! The coat is a little odd visually to me when worn over the matching dress, but of course it makes sense. The coat reminds me of a historical and longer version of Anna’s capelet from Frozen. 😉 Love the tassles, I wish they’d come together in a matching V shape in the front like the back, but then it would hide that lovely design underneath.

    I’m not sure how the dress sleeves work — I really love how it folds or has a second layer that transitions in a pointed shape between the narrow lower 3/4 of the arm and the sort of cap sleeve bit. (Clearly I have the technical terms down, eh?) The braid patterns are so pretty. ……. I just realized that my eyes completely glazed over the cream-colored lace neck covering. Didn’t realize it was part of the dress! I’d prefer the pink without it, it would be a nice dress pattern on its own… Either way, despite the funny cream lace, still definitely a 10/10!

  34. Subtract one point for those tassels. They’re just awkward to my modern-day eyes.

    Color- amazing
    Tailoring- amazing
    That coat!

    9/10

  35. Martina says

    I love this dress, but even more it makes me think that somehow I am going to have to find a way to volunteer in the MFA’s costume department. They have so many beautiful things!

  36. dropping stitches says

    So many cool details. I love the slim silhouette, the braiding, and the deep rose color. I never like tassels on clothing, but I do like the way these are cleverly woven through from the front neckline, under, and back out. The draped tassel in the back is ALMOST pretty. Almost. I don’t care for the coat, even though I can see it is beautifully crafted, because it covers the best elements of the dress. I do love it. The lace contrasting collar piece that peeks out from underneath is interesting and coordinates nicely. So much to enjoy here. Worth a second and third look. A smart look.

    9/10

  37. Maria says

    I really like this, to me it looks like an Edwardian take on medieval dress. The soutache embellishment is beautiful and I love the way the sleeves are done. The tassels don’t look weird to me at all, they’re too near the centre to look like nipple tassels so I don’t mind them. I prefer the dress without the jacket, I’m not a fan of those little pom poms. The raspberry colour is lovely but if I tend to judge on whether I would wear the colour and I’d prefer this is green (pale mint, miss green or a deep bottle green) or burgundy or even silver.
    I’d give this a 7.5/10

  38. Johanne says

    Every positive comment I would like to write has been written already. Lovely design, color, material, tailoring, and that exquisite but practical jacket. Thank you for this one, Leimomi.

    10/10

  39. Beth says

    I loved the lines of the dress, and the color, though not so much a fan of the tassels. I didn’t immediately go to any crazy thoughts, I just thought that they ruined the lines of the dress, and were obtrusive and unnecessary. I’ve read through several comments on here though, stating that this seems to be the fashion of the time (the tassels themselves, not the placement).

    8/10, minus one per tassel. The back tassel was nice.

  40. Susan Ewing says

    Just found this website and love looking at all the historical garments.

    I love this dress, not the front tassels even though they are era acceptable. I wish I could wear it, but unfortunately it wouldn’t look nearly as good on my much less trim body.

    The soutache braid is absolutely beautiful. As a person who has tried to sew braid on, I give kudos to the seamstress. It’s very difficult to do. I also love the sleeves. That over-sleeve is something I will try on one of my historical garments. Love the color.

    I do think the tassels would be better coming from lower, say at the waist at the edge of the insets with longer ribbons before the tassel. They would have highlighted the waist without the boob involvement.

    The jacket isn’t my favorite style as it does lend itself to a matronly look to the modern eye, but was very stylish at the time. I’ve seen a number of highly embroidered jackets from the era.

    The guimpe doesn’t look original to the dress. The color is off, should be white not the pinkish tan though that might be my monitor. With the dress being so symmetrical the design on the guimpe should be too. This looks as it if was cut from a piece with a larger design. It just doesn’t work.

    I love the gown and docked .5 from the score because of the tassels and guimpe. 9.5

  41. Joanna says

    This is actually a dress I would love to recreate someday (without the tassels at least). The soutashe braiding is magnificent, and the lines this dress creates! The color really completes the gown as well. It is a shame that the tassel placement has not aged well, as the weaving effect is interesting, and the silk creates a very nice contrast at the neckline. I have to knock off . 5 point due to the tassels, but otherwise a fabulous dress
    9.5/10

  42. Ahna says

    7/10
    The color, the line, the detailing are all gorgeous, but…..
    I just can’t get past the distraction of the unfortunate tassel placement. A few inches in any direction wouldn’t be an issue, even a nice detail. I also think a white gauze neckline fill would have been much more flattering to the rose color.
    Why were tassels on the bosom “all the rage?”

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