18th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1750s Robe a l’Anglaise

Last week you looked at a very unsimple puffed and frilled lavender and mauve creation from the 1820s.  Some of you loved it and gave it a perfect 10, but most of you thought it was a bit fussy and unflattering, so it rated a 6 out of 10.

This week, dear readers, I direct your fashion critique towards the 18th century, and specifically to a simple ca. 1750 robe a l’Anglaise.

Unusually for the period, this fabric is not pastel, but instead a rich brick red brocade silk, sprinkled with apricot and pink roses.  Unfortunately, the petticoat that was worn with the dress is no longer extent, so you will have to rate it on the merits of what is left.

What do you think?  Is the unusual colour a success or an unfortunate aberration?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. Being a fan of the color palette, I can’t in good conscience knock it for that.

    I like the attempt at symmetry of the roses on the edge of the neckline, but the offset design on the middle front of the dress seems strange. I also wonder if it’s displayed on a too-small mannequin? I’ve never seen overlapping strips on the center front like that, but perhaps I just haven’t seen enough c. 1750s dresses.

    Overall, a 7, because I just can’t get past the unbalanced design on the chest and the overlapping.

  2. My eyes drooled when they saw this. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m not so keen on the split stomacher, but overall it’s lovely. It must have been made for a very confident woman! Imagine how much she would have stood out in all those pale colours!


    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. Madame Ornata says

    I love this time period and most dresses from it(Angalise, Francaise, Polonaise, pet en l’air…). The colour and shape of this dress are particularly nice. The shape of the bodice and the v across the front works really well. Simple, elegant and flattering. I’m also a sucker for bricks and warm choclatey browns. I want to make one now! I wonder what the petticoat colour would have been? 9.5

  4. MrsC says

    I do love it how extant dresses are cut to fit real women, not the idealised shapes of fashion plates and paintings. This woman clearly had a bust to be envied, giving the bodice a distinct shape and cut. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fabric, I can just imagine this dress with engageates and a simple petticoat, delicious. And very likely a fichu, don’t you think? And is it just me or is the skirt longer on the right (as viewed) than the left? Just the kind of thing that happens to real dressmakers no matter how careful they are. I want to give it a 15 for its sheer delicious relateableness-to combined with gorgeousness. I can really engage with this dress! So, in spite of particularly loving stomachers, a 10 it will have to be!

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  6. Brick red and russets can be hard for some complexions to pull off, but I think that with the display of flowers in pinks and peaches helps to break up what would probably be a very heavy and drab color.

    I like the crossed closing in the front as it helps to break up the dress in such a manner that gives the eye permission to rove over the dress and take in the flowers.

    I can only imagine what the petticoat looked like; I hope it took the the color of the flowers on the gown to create chromatic symmetry.

    I give it a 10.

    The simplicity lends a certain elegance.

  7. I love the v-bodice and slim sleeves – very flattering, although I would have prefered the centre part of the bodice to be in one piece and perhaps in a contrasting colour (see skirt comment below). The other thing I would change could be the colour in the middle front of the skirt – I would have preferred it to be a more subtle contrast (perhaps one of the colours in the embroidery). That skirt design would be fab for covering my big bum :P.

    Overall a 7 for me I think.

  8. I love it. It works for me. In every way. 10!
    I really think the original wearer, if this colour and style suited her generally, must have been quite glamorous in it.

  9. No question. I love it. Rust is one of my favorite colors to wear, and I’ve always loved the lines of the robe a l’anglaise (even since before I knew what it was called). 8.5, and that’s only because it really needs a better petticoat. Do we know what color the original petticoat was? I’d recommend a light yellow, myself.

  10. Zsuzsanna says

    I like the cut of the dress, but the fabric reminds me too much of upholstery. But then, the petticoat may have changed my impression of it. I’ll give it a 6.

  11. Love love love it! A 10 all the way. The fabric is beautiful and the cut is lovely. I want to make one myself!

  12. Love, love, love-ity love. This is by far my favorite era for clothing, and this piece is simultaneously so simple but so luxurious that I’m head over heels. The color is gorgeous, and I’m envisioning the gown paired with a petticoat to match one of the flower colors (maybe a perky peach or a warm apricot) and an understated but lovely set of engageantes and a fichu. The color is exquisite–bravo to the woman who wore it!

    My only complaint–I think the robing looks a touch goofy. But–I imagine this is either not quite fitted on the mannequin, or it’s a piece that was intended for a woman whose weight would change with pregnancies–at least, for a lot of off robing I’ve seen, that was the explanation.

    9 out of 10

  13. Kristel says

    Just wanted to comment that the “v” look at the front of the bodice is likely due to someone mounting it on the mannequin incorrectly. Open gowns from the 1750s generally had a triangular shaped stomacher in front that was pinned to the stays. The gown was then put on and pinned to the sides of the stomacher. The robings were then pinned down on either side of the stomacher but in a straighter manner than they are shown here. This particular gown looks like it is a transitional style, possibly later than the 1750s because the “stomacher” appears to be part of the gown instead of a separate piece. The robings on the side would be straight down on either side and would be covering the sides of the bottom of the stomacher instead of letting them show. By the way, I give this gown a 10. The color is definitely not an aberration. Many gowns were pastels but this is a common color as well, more for a day gown where the color would not appear muddy in the candlelight. 🙂

    • Thanks Kristel! I keep going back and forth in my head about whether the dress is in the right mannequin or not. On the one hand, it’s from the Met’s Costume Institute, and they tend to be beyond meticulous in their research and styling when they photograph garments. And all the lines on the waist, and the lines of the front fastening stomacher, fall correctly, which indicates that it is put on correctly. On the other hand, I’ve never seen that front overlap.

      What I really suspect is going on with this dress is that the original fabric (and the original dress) is 1750s, but the dress has been adapted/restyled to fit a later fashion, and the end result is a dress that has a totally one-off, unique front construction.

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