Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Charles Worth does Charles James

I can divide last week’s raters of Charles James’s feathered frock into three groups: those who liked the cut, but thought the print was a bit off, those who loved everything about the frock, and those who hated everything.  I guess that leaves me as the lone voice in the “what fabulous fabric, but what a weird cut” group.  With all these conflicting viewpoints, the dress scored a perfect 8 out of 10

I have to admit that I was feeling a little uninspired about this weeks Rate the Dress.  I have all sorts of fantastic things I want to show you, but none of them seemed right for the flow of garments I have been presenting.

Yes.  I think about these sort of things.

So, when in doubt, I do what I always do, and reverted to mid-Victorian as done by Charles Frederick Worth.

Only this time, I managed to find a Worth frock that really looks like he collaborated with Charles James to design it.  It’s so fashion forward.  Or peculiar.  I find they are often the same thing.

Afternoon dress, Charles Frederick Worth, 1872, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The dress is distinctive, from its striking peacock blue silk taffeta, to its striking ballooned overskirt, to the striking ruching and ruffles of its hem.

What do you say?  Is striking and fashion forward a good thing?  Or is the dress just painfully peculiar?  Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10

UPDATE:  Check out the new, improved version courtesy of Paul:

Beautiful! As long as you are 6'3" and a willowy twig


  1. Interesting, very very interesting….ok…where to begin?

    I adore the color. Love love love it. It’s a color that would look fantastic on a blonde, brunette, or red head. It has that nice richness that just makes everything around it pop, and just to put it in the season, since it’s fall (for half of us) this color blue would just be stellar being walked around a pretty park with brightly colored orange, yellow, red leaves. Makes my heart go a-flutter.

    The skirt is fabulous. It’s risky and possesses a very modern feel. It’s something that one would see on the red carpeting with just a little bit of tweaking (mostly changing the bodice). I find it to be quite whimiscal with the ballooning and the ruffles at the bottom, it’s a dress that shouldn’t take itself too seriously…

    Until you get to the top. I do not like the faux-vest look Worth has going on. It just does not fight with the bottom of this gown, at all. I dig the bow just fine, but I don’t like the vest like collar. It’s distracting, and makes me want to make mullet jokes. (It’s business in the front(top) and a party in the back (bottom). However, I like the sleeves just fine.

    So, all in all, I’ll give it an 8.5. Because that mullet thing is simply irritating.

  2. The color is absolutely gorgeous, and the overall skirt is intriguing in a likeable way. Tthe CF seam in the skirt really bothers me. Once I noticed it, I just keep wanting to stare at it.

    The bodice is a bit of a let down. I like the wide collar, but not the bow. But I think without the bow would also look strange, because the collar would be stopping at an odd point.

    Because of the bow/collar awkwardness and CF seam, I have to give it a 7.

  3. I *love* the color, passionately; it’s one of my favorites.

    The bodice, though unusual, doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment of all of that peacock blue dress, and I love the pleating and ruffles around the hem.

    The ballooned overskirt, on the other hand, I could do without. If I owned the dress, I’d probably have had it removed. On the other hand, I’ve seen dresses with worse defects (particularly in this “Rate the Dress” feature).

    So I give it a 7.

  4. Kathy P says

    Love the color, love the ruffles at the bottom of the skirt. I think I’d like the effect of that pouffy, bias-cut overskirt if the front was longer- that expanse of flat fabric between it and the top of the first ruffle seems to be a bit too wide, to me. the contrast between the pouf and the narrower skirt under it is a little distracting, almost as if the wearer forgot a layer.

  5. Ach. Ptuey. I hate it. The overskirt looks like a mistake, like she accidentally tucked it into her knickers, but even without it the tailored bodice with tailoring details doesn’t gel for me with the frou frou around the bottom. I think the colour is too dark and too rich to be an all over colour with no relief in another texture. It’s the first Worth gown I’ve ever seen that I even dislike, usually I adore them all. I give it a 4 because I like the bodice, sort of.

  6. Paul Miller says

    I love the color and the dressmaker details, but hate the silhouette. It’s a design that would be beautiful if it were all stretched out vertically, as in a fashion plate rendering, but that, at least made to the scale in the picture, would make anyone look short, fat and dumpy. It reminds me of the dress the good fairies try to make Briar Rose in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty before getting out their wands. 3.

  7. Elise says

    I was with you on the last dress–what beautiful fabric to be wasted in such a weird way.

    This dress….looks like a matron’s frock from the waist up, an 80s prom dress from waist to knees, and a bad flamenco dress at the bottom. Knife pleats, a bubble fishtail, and a bow? Gag.

    Pretty color, though. Maybe I’ll just squint.


  8. Joie de Vivre says

    As do so many others, I think the colour is exquisite.

    And that is about it.

    Reminds me of the sort of thing that happens on Project Runway when they are told to do couture or avant garde challenge and get a little stressed out and something fails and two hours before the end of the challenge they decide to redo it in a new direction and try to make something that meets all the cliche tick boxes, Tim Gunn clucks over it a few times and points out the CF seam makes it look unfinished and that “editing is important” but they ignore him because “we like pleats and puffy bits and tailoring so by golly it is all going to be in one dress because it is a COUTURE challenge!” and it ends up being a disaster that gets torn apart by Heidi Klum with a fabulous scathing metaphor about how it looks.


  9. Paul Miller says

    I photoshopped a great correction of this dress, but I don’t know how to send it to you….

    • Oooh, how fun! Upload it to flickr/photobucket etc, and leave the link in a comment OR write me a note in the contact form (Contact me link) I’ll reply and you’ll have my e-mail.

        • I tried it too, reduced the width by 40% and it looked much better! It just needs a size 2, 6′ 3″ model and it actually works! heheh

  10. Madame Ornata says

    I totally agree withthe last 4 comments. I agree what a waste! That is my favourite colour, exicuted well and I have always I totally agree with the comments of MrsC, Paul, Elise and Joie de Vivre.

    What a waste! That is my favourite colour, executed well and until now I have always loved anything that Worth has done, gosh I am almost sold before I see the dress – so what went so very wrong here?

    I am confused. What was he thinking?
    Like Elise I see a jarring, disparate meld between controlled Victorian prudishness in the upper half and comic with the mermaid whimsical tail (oh no now I have awful image of Cher popping up in my head (shudder).
    Hmm the bubble? Yuck (love the tucked in her knickers comment MrsC). I enjoy avant-garde but this is out of sync and I agree with Paul, so unflattering. Just not right for this garment.
    I see potential in some aspects and it could have been rescued quite easily. Perhaps some more colour or a more consistent concept throughout. The workmanship is lovely and aspects are fine, but it’s just so wrong as is.
    Joie summed it up so well — I can just imagine Tim clucking “Edit” and Heidi Auf’ing Mr Worth with a double air kiss. As he stomps off to collect his things he cries tragically from the wings “They just don’t get my vision ……”

    3.5 cos it is teal, Worth and has glimpses of potential

    I would love to see that too Paul!

  11. Can I both love and hate it. At once its bright blue is certainly a draw while the puffy over skirt is too much fashion to be practical. I am also one to prefer contrasting trim. This one note one color dress is just that.

    And on the flip side I’ve got to love anything designed by Worth.(I’m working on making an 1893 Worth dress for my wedding.)

  12. I like everyone else, love the colour, its a blue my Nana used to wear. She would spin her own wool, from sheep in the paddock below the house, weave it on a big wooden loom in her lounge and make suits dyed in the most beautiful shades of blue. But I digress. I agree with everything said here, what clever darlings you all are. The only part I like in this dress, along with the colour, is the over-skirt, for some reason it reminds me of Marilyn Munroe standing over the air conditioning vent in the street, holding her skirts down as they rise with the hot air. Its the only feature of the dress that has any life. On the whole for me, this dress feels dead and boring. 3/10

  13. I also love the colour – it’s so striking and I really like the bottom of the skirt. Hate the rest though. A 3/10 from me.

Comments are closed.