Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Anne of Austria by Rubens

Last week you found the shocking pink Victorian well…shocking, either for being avant garde, or just for being shockingly bad.  It rated a 5.6 out of 10

I promised that this week I would not post another late Victorian dress, and I’m holding to that.  So I present you with a period that inspired many a late Victorian fashion trend: the Baroque.

Rubens paints Anne of Austria, Queen of France in an extremely patriotic dress of brilliant blue fleur de lys ornamented silk with a fleur de lys shaped bodice.

Peter Paul Rubens, Anne of Austria 1622-1625

The dress, and portrait, are perhaps an attempt to solidify Anne’s position as Queen at a particularly uneasy time.  Her husband had never been particularly interested in her and blamed her for a series of miscarriages.  She had been unpopular with the people for refusing to give up her Spanish ladies in waiting and adapt to French ways, and had only recently been convinced to adopt French fashions.

The portrait celebrates Anne’s new look, and aims to present her in a flattering light to her husband and people.  The results in her life were mixed: her husband remained distant, but Anne did become a powerful, respected force at court.

What are the results today?  How do you feel about the ensemble?  Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. I like…the color scheme. Deep blue and gold, with ermine–so beautiful!

    Too bad I don’t like anything else about it. I’ve never cared for the jewel-encrusted horrors affected by royal women in the Early Modern period to show their rank and wealth. And that fleur-de-lys shaped peplum is just…strange. 4

    • I was aware of that portrait, and was planning to do a post about patriotic dress for French Queens (there are a couple of other similar ones), but hadn’t realised how very, very similar they are. In fact, now that I look at the portraits together, I suspect that they are even the same dress.

      I did feel that Anne’s dress was a bit old-fashioned, but chalked that up to her Spanish taste (Spain, after all, being the place where historical fashions go to die).

  2. What a dress?!
    I can go with the colors, fabric and lace however the style is outrageous. It has never been my favorite however I have respect for seamstresses and tailors of that time & now who can produce a dress like that.
    She is a very beautiful woman too. It is a pity that her husband could be so harsh on her for something she had no control over.


  3. Elise says

    It reminds me–kind of–of the dresses worn during the middle ages.

    What I want to know is what she dressed like before she adopted ‘French Fashions.’

    It’s not bad. I love the colors! But I’ve always been partial to blue, gold and white. I’ll give it a 7.

  4. I give it a 7 because it is lovely in its own way. The bodice is remarkable. What truly runs through my mind is someone created this, ALL BY HAND. I give the seamstresses/tailors a 10 for that alone.

  5. Maybe there was a big painted cutout of the dress, and the queen du jour just stuck her head through the hole to get painted? 😉

  6. wow crazy! i love the colors, and respect the insane amount of skilled work that went into creating this outfit but i think it’s too much!
    I give it a 7.

  7. I take 2 down for the peplum, because it’s really, really weird and ruins the lines of the dress quite unfortunately – I can only imagine how weird it was in reality.
    Otherwise, if I can look away from the fact this over-the-top-everything (Huge skirt! Huge sleeves! Huge collar! Huge pearls! – thankfully not Huge hair!, or it would really be too much) is not my cup of tea, it’s really pretty, and the heraldic colours make for a nicer version of over-the-top, compared to, say, Elisabeth I. of England…
    A 7, for achieving its purpose. I wanted to make it 8, but then I compared it to other dresses I had rated with an 8, and decided I did not like this one so much, because there are some personal soft spots of mine among the eights (like the Lady in Pink I suggested for rating!).

  8. I’m giving it a 10. While in many ways this fashion was ridiculous, I feel the style has an internal consistency of balance and scale that works far better than just about any other extreme fashion style ever has. The huge skirts are balanced by the huge sleeves, and the huge towering lace collars are a wonderful foil of delicacy to the heavy fabrics. I like the peplum, I have a rather fantastical notion that this dress looks like the Queen of Clubs because of it. Love the colours, love the contrasts of the fur with the dark blue. It’s delicious. I accept its madness for what it is. 🙂

  9. 10!


    A bit ridiculous, but isn’t fashion usually that way? I’d prefer wearing that dress compared to the skimpy things most people wear today. LOL

    It amazes me how much work must have gone into that dress.

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