Rate the Dress: Charles Worth in 1897

Last week I showed you a striped 1860s number, and pointed out that the stripes weren’t aligned as we would expect them to be.  Oh foolish me!  Having had it pointed out, you all obsessed about the stripe placement, and were rather harsh on the poor gown (I know there was a tiny mis-match as well, but other than that, I actually though the unusual stripe action on the chevrons made the gown far more interesting and dynamic than a ‘normal’ stripe placement).  Beyond the stripes, some of you decried it as quite dull and blah.  Poor frock!  Some did love it though so it managed a 7.4 out of 10.

I’m quite obsessed with the late 1890s at the moment: the stiff, A-line skirts, the focus on menswear inspired tailoring, the pleating, the peculiar puffed sleeves.

This House of Worth evening gown from ca. 1897 is the perfect summation of the whole look.  The skirt, with its heavy folds and widening gores.  The juxtaposition of the über-feminine pink floral warp-patterned silk with a strong, tailored silhouette.

Evening dress House of Worth ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress House of Worth ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

The bodice which manages to be inspired both by men’s jackets and waistcoats, and 18th century stomachers and redingotes.  The sleeves: ruched below, surmounted by faux-renaissance puffs, with bands of lace forming slashings.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

And finally, the skirt pleats, perfectly framing repeats of the floral pattern.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

It’s quite a dress: feminine, masculine, multi-period historical, both ornate and paradoxically severe.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

What do you think of it?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Rate the Dress: Walking in Stripes in the late 1860s

Last week I showed you a Regency era fashion plate that featured a decidedly interesting evening dress.  Opinions on the dress were decidedly divided: you either thought it was fabulous (with small caveats about the peplum and bodice trim), or hated it.  And you either thought it would be even more fabulous on a body, or far less fabulous!  So most scores were either well below 5, or well above 5, resulting in a rating of 7.4 out of 10.  Wackiness and all, I guess more of you liked it than not!

This week’s Rate the Dress in a little toned down compared to last week, but it does carry on the peplum theme.

This striped walking ensemble features a fitted bodice, a bustled skirt, and a separate belt with false peplum.

The dressmaker has made full use of the stripes: arranging them vertically, horizontally, and on the bias.  But the striped usage isn’t always what we’d expect: note how the bias chevrons down the front don’t form further ‘V’ shapes, but crook at angles across the point.  And the peplum stripes run parallel to the front edge, rather than angling away and enhancing the effect of the skirt flare away from the waist.

What do you think?  Would a lady strolling down the sidewalk in this ensemble present a picture of scintillating interest as the stripes shifted and moved?  Is the potentially overpowering pattern and trim balanced by the subtle colours (in a generally unsubtle era)?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Rate the Dress: Regency evening madness

Last week I showed you a ca. 1910 evening dress in pale gold and ocean blue, with a fringed floral lei around the bodice.  Your reactions were all over the place: love, hate, meh, so un-moved you couldn’t think of anything to say, likes with caveats – everything!  And you liked and disliked totally different bits from person to person!  A very interesting reaction – I’d love to have been in the room when it was first worn, to see what everyone thought of it then!  As it was, more liked than didn’t, so it rated an impressive round 8 out of 10.  It’s just hard to find a 1910s evening dress you don’t like!

This week I’m sticking with the theme of rather mad evening wear, but going back in time almost exactly a century.  This 1809 Regency fashion plate for Evening Full Dress is full of quirky details: the horizontal bodice trim, the double layered sleeves.  The van-dyked peplum, and mirrored van-dyking with tassels on the skirt.  All accessorised with impressive ostrich feather hair plumes in a tiara, large earrings and a statement necklace, upper-arm bracelets, and the requisite long gloves and fan.

Full evening dress, June 1809, La Belle Assemblée

Full evening dress, June 1809, La Belle Assemblée

What do you think?  Just quirky enough to be fabulous and interesting, or totally mad, and more suited to a costume ball than a dress ball?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

 

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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