Author: The Dreamstress

Rate the Dress: An early 1880s garland of autumnal flowers

Sorry that posts have been a bit delayed and spotty.  We’re having internet connectivity issues, and the internet suppliers in NZ leave a bit to be desired in terms of customer service (why does it take them 5-7 business days to deliver a new modem, when I can have a zip or a load of manure delivered the next day, even on a Saturday?!?). Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Coutts, received generally rave reviews last week, with nothing below a 7, and over half of her ratings a perfect 10, with the general consensus being that her dress suited her personality perfectly, and was striking without detracting from her face.  9.3 out of 10, because while it suited the person to a T, it wasn’t a showstopper. This week, a black (yes, it is black, not navy) silk reception gown decorated with a garland of embroidery in shades of maroon and amethyst, with cream flowers: What do you think? Is the textural mix of slick satin and fluffy chenille working?  What about the muted reds on …

The Ideal WWI era figure, Part III: the changing ideal from 1913-1921

Continuing on in my series looking at the ‘ideal’ figure from 1913-1921, this week lets look at how figure ideals changed from 1913 to 1921. See Part I, for a range of ideal figures as featured in a Gossard’s corset ad, here; and Part II, for a breakdown of the elements of the ‘ideal’ 1913-1921 figure, here. Starting in 1913, the ultra-fashionable 1913 figure was very much a carry-on of the extremely slim-hipped 1910 look: The bust is the full, low, drooping Edwardian mono-bosom that has been in fashion since ca. 1900. Depictions of un-corseted women in the same catalogue show figures that are somewhat less stylised, but have the same general slim hipped, low busted look, though with separate breasts, rather than a monobosom: The biggest change in the fashionable silhouette of the 1910s happened between 1913 and 1914.  At the end of 1913 we see the very beginnings of the change: hips were widening, and the silhouette was changing from ‘a snake with a boob’ (as a friend of mine calls it), to a …

Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, ca. 1840, NPG, detail

Rate the Dress: the Philanthropist in Plaid

Last week’s peach-on-peach 1914 evening dress earned its rating almost entirely on how much you liked said shade.  If it was too much overtones of 1980s bridesmaids dresses – not so much!  I was highly entertained by the wildly varying opinions and some of the descriptions (peach flavoured onion!).  Alas, for something so entertaining, it came in with a rather nondescript rating of 7.3 out of 10.  The lowest in a long while, but far higher than some of the lowest scores. This week let us turn from soft peachy pink, to crisp black and white, as we look at philanthropist, heiress, art collector, honourary beekeeper and goat aficionado, Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Coutts. Angela’s life is remarkable; from inheriting one of the largest fortunes in England (though I’ve always wondered how her four older sisters felt about being left out of it); to using it for a huge range of Very Good Things (many quite unusual and advanced for a lady of her era); to proposing to the  45-years-her-senior Duke of Wellington, fending off …