19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Batgirl goes Victorian

I suspect that y’all found last week’s featured Cranach rather boring.  Seven votes in it, and it rated a 7.8.  I grovel in front of you and humbly beg your apologies.

And then cross my fingers and hope like heck that you don’t find this weeks Rate the Dress equally boring.

It is, after all, a fashion sketch, in black and white.  But oh, such an interesting subject!

It’s an 1880’s batgirl costume!  What do you think?  Are short, pleated skirts, and bats at bust, temple, and shoe fronts fabulous, or fail-worthy?

Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. HA ha ha…..that’s really funny. Look at the bats even on the shoes! It goes a little overboard though. I’ll give it a 8.5

  2. Zsuzsanna says

    9, I like the dress, but the hat is a bit too much for me.

  3. Kathy P says

    Oh, my word, her ankles show! How risque!
    The hat is a bit macabre, but fits the subject matter. The dress itself is nothing special, really,(except for all those little pleats) but it sets off the cape well.
    I give it a 9, and I want those shoe buckles.

  4. Hello Dreamstress! So glad you commented on my blog re quilts recently. I am sorry to have lost touch since you moved from Blogger but I find it really irritating to follow on WordPress as it clogs up my email inbox and have stopped following almost everyone who changed to it. I prefer the Bloglist which is so much easier for me. So sorry. (elegancemaison.)

  5. You just know they’re real actual taxidermied bats, with little red crystals for eyes. Except for the headpiece – I don’t think bats come in
    that size.

    I like it all except the skirt – I’d prefer to see somedraping that echoed the wings a bit more than the tiers of foofy pleats do. 8.

  6. Such fun! I could see you wearing something like this to one of your awesome themed balls.

    9 for whimsy. It would be fairly simple to make… Do you think the dress is a silvery silk like a bat’s tum?

  7. I love it! The bat wing cape is quite creative! I even love the bizarre weasel-esque bat head perched on her hair. In a weird way. In the same way one can love watching Plan Nine from Outer Space. But better. And seriously, I adore the corset and the draped and tiered skirt. A 10 🙂

  8. You’ve run afoul of one of my personal prejudices here. I’ve always thought that Victorian-era “fancy dress” costumes look absurd. Batgirl here is no exception. A 5, and it gets that only because the short dress that goes with it is cute. (Those ears! Ugh. Good God, what were they thinking?)

  9. jackiead says

    I like the cut of the dress, but the bats attached at the front of the cape and the bat on the headdress creep me out. I give the costume a five because I like the idea of a venturesome Victorian Bat Girl wearing this costume to a Halloween Ball.
    Do you think the sketch was ever made into a costume or was it too daring for that time period?

    • I don’t know if it was made into a costume, but I do know that shorter skirts were acceptable for fancy dress, and that there is enough photographic evidence to suggest that even ‘nice’ girls wore them! The shorter skirts may also indicate that the costume was for a young woman – it does seem that teens were allowed/expected to wear costumes with calf length skirts.

  10. Beth D. says

    ha! I love the cape and the shoes. that hat looks like the bat is nomnomnomming on her head, though. so, uh… 8.5?

      • Frecklehead says

        I’m not sure, actually. I think I remember seeing her wear it last year. The bats on the original’s shoes are hilarious 🙂

  11. I love it. The batwing cape is especially wonderful. My only issue is that the bat hat, with the bat cape closure AND the bats on the shoes is a bit overkill… Remove the hat and the other two are fine, but with the head bit, it seems unnatural to have full bats elsewhere in the costume.

    So, 9.

    The University of Georgia has a great online book full of “historical” and fancy dress costumes from the 1860s available: http://fax.libs.uga.edu/GT513xL32/ldcmenu.html

    This one isn’t in it, but other novel ones are. I posted some of my favorites on my site recently. Many of the fancy dress costumes in it also had calf-length skirts.

  12. I have to give it a 10 since I made my interpretation of this costume last year for Halloween. I loved how it turned out and yes, I did wear a bat on both my hat and the front of my cape!

  13. I love love love it!! I give it a 10 for being completely over the top and fabulous…<3

  14. Joie de Vivre says

    I think it is marvellous! I especially love the struts in the cape to give it that marvellous ribbed wing effect – I want one! I’m not so fond of the pleated skirt – like the tiers but think that pleating them is a bit much – but that isn’t really the point of the overall costume so I give it a 9.5. I’d wear it sans pleating without hesitation!

  15. I can’t help but feel that the actual dress is neither here nor there, but the cape, shoes and hat are part of an ensemble to be worn with any old black frock. I do love the simple satin corset and the wrap around bustle in their own right. Layers never been my thing outside of the Caribbean.
    I’d give it an 8 for sheer affrontery, I think it transcends taste for taste’s sake.

  16. OK, I’ll chop it down to elements:
    If she did not wear the bat hat (i.e. not so openly batty, but rather something like Cinderella’s stepmother wears in the Czech film Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella: http://i.idnes.cz/08/113/gal/KOT2767df_orisky.JPG – although that’s very over the top), she’d be a fabulous witch. Dark sorceress, rather. But I love the bat hat (although I suspect it would look really really weird in Victorian fancy ball reality – anatomically off or something) and the batgirl effect it produces, so I’d say lose the bat on the front of the cape to give it a more batty and less witchy look… the small bats on the shoes can stay, they’re really cute and far enough from the bat on the top not to be too much. 🙂
    I cannot decide whether I like or don’t like the dress under it. I guess I’d like it a lot if it were made from fine silk velvet. But in that case I’d drop the pleats, too. I like them, but I’m not sure they look good under that cape, and they surely would not look good in velvet. Another option for that dress is grey taffetta (I think it’s taffetta), like the dress at the end of Kate and Leopold…
    I love the cape and its batwing shape.

    I think that makes it an 8 in my eyes.
    Which makes me think I should correct my rating of the previous week’s Cranach dress to an 8, too… but that might really be mostly in Cranach’s presentation of it. Which is, I think, the main reason why it looks boring. If it were a real dress hanging on a manequin, we’d be all drooling!

      • I’m not sure if my commenting trouble did not have something to do with me posting from my home computer, with ADSL Internet connection, while now I’m posting with mobile connection – which changes IPs all the time. The site said something about IPs when I could not post last time. But I have no idea why, because it was exactly the computer which should have a stable IP address, and I had posted from it many times before without any trouble!

    • Also, you know, I have always had a soft spot for bats. Or at least ever since I read a Czech children’s book where there is a lonely but good, nice, friendly bat who teaches the main character (a very small poppy being) all kinds of flying tricks. So I really like the idea of a bat costume.
      I love that book. I should dig it up and read it again.

        • Yes, they are!
          And they have this clever system of completely slowing down and cooling down in winter. Wrapping themselves in their wings as in a sleeping bag, as Václav VÄ›tvička (Czech biologist) wrote in a book I’ve read recently. I think that’s just cool!

      • Joie de Vivre says

        I’m a hige bat fan too – you know they’re New Zealand’s only native land mammal? I just think they’re cool! I got to peek at some at the zoo a few weeks ago, but they were hanging up to sleep somewhere really high so I couldn’t see much – just black shapes silhouetted against the sun. I’d totally have a pet bat!

  17. MissTinaBunni says

    10! I ordered custom post cards and sent this picture out as a halloween greeting this year. Luvvit!

  18. cinder says

    the hat is a bit much but next to that is great

    I’d wear it

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