All posts tagged: 1860s

Rate the Dress: a butterfly ballgown, ca 1865

Last week’s purple velvet aestheticism inspired reception gown / tea gown proved very popular, with many of you commenting that you loved it because you could actually imagine wearing it.  It did loose points for awkward lower-front rouching (which I hadn’t noticed and will now never be able to unsee!), and not everyone was on-board with the long train, all-over high-necked-with-velvet thing, or the Renaissance sleeves.  So, for lots of excitement with a few niggles, a still very regal score of 8.5 out of 10. Although no-one commented that last week’s gown made them feel hot as happened with the green velvet gown earlier this year, this week I chose a dress that seemed much more summery in theme: an 1860s ballgown of butterfly patterned chiné silk. Were it not for the striking butterfly patterned fabric this dress would never have made it as a Rate the Dress choice.  It’s almost completely devoid of ornamentation or design interest except for the tassel-trimmed sleeves, which would flutter and move with the dress, evoking wings, or delicate …

Rate the Dress: 1860s Aniline & Apron Effects

Thanks for your well wishes on lasts week’s Rate the Dress.  My posts are going to be written with help for at least another week I’m afraid… Quite mixed feelings on last week’s 1906ish corded velvet ensemble.  Some of you thought it rich and regal, some of you thought it irredeemably ugly, and some of you liked it, except for a) the mismatched lace and/or b) the fabric and/or c) the clunky sleeves.  Lots of things to detract from perfection pulled the score down to 6.6 out of 10. I personally loved the fabric and would take a chair upholstered in it any day of the week, but do struggle with 1906 sleeves.  They just make me think of an ape posturing to make itself look as big as possible in the chest and shoulders… This week’s Rate the Dress, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is also purple and black.  The dress, one of the extremely fashionable new purple shades made possible by the discovery of aniline dyes, features the simple shape and enormous swathes of …

Rate the Dress: Lightning bolts, fringe, bobbles, straw, and miles of mauveine

What an interesting conversation we had about Heather Firbank’s extremely purple walking costume from last week!  And what interesting ratings!  Basically, everyone who didn’t like things disliked the bits that I particularly liked.  The symmetrical/asymmetrical contrast (so weird to modern eyes, but so typical of the era) came in for particular criticism, as did the ‘mean little buckles’ (which I thought were such a neat, severe, ultra-modern touch!). One thing that I thoroughly expected everyone to criticise the ensemble for (and which certainly annoyed me every time I looked at it) was the non-matching of the ribbon trim at the corners of the jacket.  Oddly, it received only one mention! And that’s the fabulous thing about Rate the Dress: all these different opinions, each of us looking at the same thing, and drawing on different experiences and associations for our likes and dislikes, all rounding out to a random-but-not score, which in last week’s case, was 8.6 out of 10. I did not intend to pick another extremely purple ensemble this week.  And then I ran …