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Rate the Dress: Pink & Green Polonaise

Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1

Apologies that the blog has been so slow: not much but Rate the Dress, and even that not on a weekly basis. I’m just out of pep at the moment. All my energy is going toward teaching, and everything else feels like slogging through molasses.

I’m hoping to wrap up some big project this week, and have more energy, and thus be able to finish some of the fun blog posts that are sitting 3/4 written. Fingers crossed…

For now, here is an extremely pep-y 1780s dress.

Last Week: a golden yellow moiré 1860s gown

Not exactly to my surprise, not a lot of you were madly in love with last week’s dress. It was a lot. And even less to my surprise, the thing that received the most criticism was the rosettes. They were quite…distinctive. I really appreciated viewers who tried to imagine a person who this dress could really work on. While it’s not something I’ll every love for me, I could actually imagine a kind of person who it would suit and would look fabulous on, and who it would be so right for you’d just love it on them.

The Total: 6.6 out of 10

Eeep. Such a come down after weeks of 9+ ratings!

This week: a pink and green 1780s gown

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs describes this dress as a polonaise, and while it has decorative elements in common with some gowns that clearly are polonaise, the overall cut of this one is not typical of a polonaise. It definitely appears to have a waist seam, and its pointed back, while not clearly either an Anglaise or Italian gown, is definitely not the lobed skirt of a polonaise.

Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1
Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1 via Europeana Fashion

So, like many garments in the 1780s, an era of transition between styles, this dress has elements of many styles. In overall design it’s certainly a garment of its time.

Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1
Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1

The use of large quantities of a contrasting fabric for flat decorative elements is unusual in most 18th century fashion, but not the 1780s. In this dress the green trim is embellished with delicate metal embroidery featuring peacock feathers. Peacock feather embroidery was particularly fashionable at Versailles in the 1780s: the grand habit attributed to Rose Bertin at the Royal Ontario Museum features very similar peacock feather motifs.

Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1
Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1

While contrasting flat-trim appears in a variety of colour combinations in the 1780s, pink and green seems to have been particularly on-trend. I’m aware of at least four extant ensembles from this era with pink skirts and jackets trimmed with green facings. Given how many 1780s dress trends are named after actresses or characters in plays its possible that a particularly famous theatre costume came in this colourway and inspired the fashion.

Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1
Robe à la Polonaise (?), 1780-85 Musée des Arts Décoratifs, UF 70-38-1

I don’t know if the petticoat is original to the dress, or (more likely) one that was paired with it because it was a close-enough match.

This green, for the record, is not arsenic green: arsenic green is unsuitable as a colourant for silk because the copper turns dark in combination with silks sulphur content. Instead, this dress is an excellent example of how this shade of green could be achieved with natural dyes.

What do you think? Do you like this example of extremely-on-trend 1780s?  

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.

23 Comments

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