Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: La Belle Otero

Poor James! Not only is his rather decent go at being a king completely overshadowed by the queen who preceded him, but you, dear readers, declared that he ruled over the most unflattering period in men’s fashion…ever.

With that said, you didn’t think that James’ own outfit was as bad as it could have been, considering the period, though most of you noticed his distinctly scrawny legs. James rated a 4 out of 10.

This week, let’s look at something that doesn’t show any leg…just everything else.

You didn’t like Garbo’s take on Mata Hari, but a few of you mentioned that Mata Hari’s own costumes were rather attractive. It turns out that they weren’t particularly original though. Actress and courtesan La Belle Otero was photographed in her own exotic eastern dancer attire in 1905. Unlike Mata Hari, La Belle wasn’t trying to hide her lack of bosom with her costume, as she was said to have the most famous pair in the world.

What do you think? Is 1905 pseudo-Oriental exoticism better than the 1930s version? Or is this a case of La Belle ‘oh dear, no!’?

Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. Kathy P says

    love the skirt, but the bodice is clunky and uncomfortable looking. I hope she has it tied or glued on tightly!

    I give it a 6/10 for the glam factor.

  2. I love the skirt too, and agree that the top seems a bit awkward. I like it a lot better than Garbo’s Mata Hari, though. I give it a 6.

  3. Love it from the waist down, so I guess that’s at least a 5, love the hip-jewellery, but really not a fan of the bulls-eye-breast look. I’m trying to work out whether there are nude-coloured panels in the top – there looks to be a seam down her side in the top shot, which would make the bodice a lot less precarious than it first appears.

    I think a 6.

  4. Hehe, I did not notice the seam yesterday, but I did have a feeling that she looks like an old Barbie – the seam would explain a part of it, given the “seams” on the sides of the dolls…

    I agree, something like a 6 it is – the bodice doesn’t look very good. I believe Mata Hari’s, as fault-concealing as it might have been, looked better.

  5. O.C. says

    I’m impressed that, even without an s-bend corset she’s standing like she’s wearing one! Or maybe she IS wearing one, underneath a nude fabric bodice?

  6. I give it an 8. I really want to like it. She pretty much looks adorable! And hot. I think it’s construction issues based on construction methods of the time.

  7. jenfromnz says

    …so Madonna was not as original as she would like to think! I love this outfit…..7 out of 10 for me…..but then I am looking at it from a wearable art point of view…..

    • LOL, I guess not! And all rating viewpoints are welcome! I might worry if you looked at this from a wedding dress point of view though!

  8. MrsC says

    I can’t shake hte feeling that C3PO from StarWars is staring at me out of her chest! But then that’s hardly fair as C3PO wasn’t even a glimmer in Steven Spielberg’s grandfather’s eye in 1905. So, I’d give it a 7 too. I love the skirts, love how the aesthetic of the time is still in the outfit even though it has nothing to do with the current fashion really, and I like that it is risque and yet practically quite demure at the same time. Would have been nice to see her on the move in it too. I think from the way she poses that she must have been a very graceful woman. The effect would have had men on their knees!

    • Steven Spielberg and Star Wars! Mrs C, you have just committed the ultimate Star Wars sin! Well…except maybe confusing it with Star Treck.

      But yes, the dress is ahead of it’s time in many ways.

  9. I agree with the people who give this a 6. The skirt is elegant and simple, but the bodice parts are not only clunky, they manage to obscure the contours of La Belle Otero’s bosom! What’s up with that?

    • I’m wondering if the suggestions that she might be wearing a corset under a body stocking don’t have merit. It would explain the seam, the posture, and the squashed bosom.

  10. Paul Miller says

    I don’t mind that the top is revealing and I would love to applaud it for being such a scanty contrast to the skirt, but it makes her torso look like a stylized owl, so I have to go with a 7. It gets a fairly high rating because she had so much charm, evident in the pix even after so long.

  11. Zsuzsanna says

    As much as I’d like to like this dress, I can’t. I think what puts me off is the bull’s eye look in both the bosom and the knicker area. To me it just looks vulgar. I’ll rate it a 2.

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