Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1820s purple and mauve

I have no idea what the final verdict on La Belle Otero’s risque ensemble was.  I’ve been lying on the beach* instead of blogging, so this post is a pre-written post.

UPDATE: I’ve read the comments, tallied the post, and La Belle Otero scrapes in at above average with a fairly unanimous 6 out of 10.

This week we look at a real dress from a much maligned fashion period.  This 1820s frock features elaborate ruffles and ruching on sheer striped silk organza-like fabric.  According to the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s a ball gown, though I don’t know about the long sleeves for a ballgown.

In any case, some early American would have worn it to elegant soirees, hoping to look elegant herself.  But did she look elegant?  Or just silly?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10

* Well, weeding pineapples and slapping at mosquitos is probably more likely, but the important part is I haven’t been near a computer.


  1. Cute colour, sweet neckline. Love the detail at the wrist of the cuffs.
    But the frill on bust , Sholder and heam make me think of a Dolly Varden Cake or those old school toilet roll dolls. 5 out of 10.

  2. I’m a bit torn about this one. I guess I’ll say a 6. I love the color scheme and fabric–they’re so pretty! But the 1820’s silhouette, which this dress exemplifies, is odd and a bit awkward. The tucks and ruffles on the bodice are novel, and rather nice (hence the 6 instead of a 5).

  3. Elizabeth says

    I’m going to give it a 4 and that is only because the fabric color is very pretty. I’ve never been a fan of this silhouette and I don’t think it is flattering on any shape or size. For all of the ruffles, tucks and stripes it just seems kind of…blah…to me.

  4. love it! All the ruffles and fru frus! ah! I love the hem especially 🙂 a 10 all the way!

  5. MrsC says

    This looks like a costume from a 1970’s Jane Austen BBC production (the Emma and the Persuasion in particular) rather than the real thing. It’s the frills, the monochrome facrics and those sleeves! Assuming however that it is the real deal, it could be worse. 6.

    • LOL Mrs C! This is certainly the sort of thing they were inspired by! I’m assuming that between them the Met and the Brooklyn Museum know their stuff, and that this is indeed the real thing!

  6. Zsuzsanna says

    For me it’s an 8. I love the colour, but the shape would sadly look no good on me. On someone with the right figure for it though, I think it would look gorgeous. And I love the detailing at the bottom of the dress. What is it called and how do you make it??

    • Zsuzsanna, I have been trying to figure out that exact thing. They look like padded, ruched ‘poofs’ to me. I’m trying to think of a dress I could apply them to, and if I figure them out and manage to put them on something, I’ll definitely do a tutorial!

  7. It’s a 6 for me. I love the bodice and sleeves (although I agreed they’re not very ballgowny), but think the skirt doesn’t seem to go with the rest of it and the ruffles look a bit plonked on. The fabric is gorgeous though.

  8. Paul Miller says

    10! There is nothing I don’t love about this dress.

  9. I very much agree with what Lisa said about it… so after some thinking, a 6 it is. If I were to rate the colours alone, though, it would totally be a 10!

  10. Madame Ornata says

    I’m with MrsC. It does look kindamade up and I am surprised to see it is authentic.
    There are some lovely aspects to this; the fabric is pretty, the bodice and dress shape are just right, ditto the detailing on the bodice . However, the sleeves and ‘bullet holders’ on the hem are just unbalanced and ruin it for me. The composition is all wrong – quite jarring. At once both boring and OTT.
    I do have an empathy for maximalising and love a good juxtaposition, but this is one situation where less would be more. With the sleeves ripped off, some bullets in those holders and a pair of pearl handled revolvers slipped into the double holsters on the side it would have potential but as it is, it only rates a 6 from me.

  11. I love the fabric (although the colours would make me look ill – but they’re still pretty!) – but I’ve never liked the frilliness of the 1820s. I do like the bodice treatment – very novel! – and I think it would look well with short sleeves, but combined with the heavy trim at the hemline and the busy sleeves, the effect is a little much. I’d give it a 7 out of 10, I think; it is a lovely dress if you like that sort of thing!

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