Rate the dress

Rate the dress: shocking pink Victorian

Last week you were torn on on the Pingat mantle: as a solitary garment it it was a bit odd, but most of you liked it quite a bit better worn over a dress, so it rated a 6.6 out of 10.

I hadn’t planned to publish this dress for a while yet: I’ve done a lot of late Victorian lately and thought I needed a change.  But this published by accident last week and some of you snuck in comments, so it seems unfair to hold out on you.

I know this isn’t the best image of this dress, but even flat, the garment is too distinctive not to have shown you.  It’s shocking pink!  With black velvet stripes!  And a bustier top!  And huge puffed sleeves in black velvet!  And jet trim!

Dress, 1892-96, silk with glass beads, Museum of Costume

Not much is known about the dress, but this much I am sure of: the woman who wore this must have had some attitude!

Attitude, yes, but taste?  What say the readers?

Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. Oh man.
    I like the construction and fabric combination but if you haven’t told us that it was made around 1892-96, I would have thought it was from some inexpensive costume shop that you find online due to the boldness.

    I have always thought that Victorian dresses were very subtle in color and only outrageous in draping and design. What I have forgotten is that even women back then, like now, even though they used more cloth, were pushing the boundaries of taste and fashion.

    I have been having alot of fun with these ratings.


  2. Amy B. says

    2 only because it’s bold. I might like it better on someone, but what I’m visualizing in my head is not good. Of course, I’m not a big fan of shocking pink.

  3. Melissa says

    I actually really like it. Is that weird? I feel like that’s weird.

    I like the contrast of the colors and textures, though I wish the skirt didn’t have the velvet stripes, they make the whole thing look just a little silly. The matching beading on the bust and sleeves is nice.

    I’ll give it an 8/10.

  4. Kathy P says

    This dress illustrates that saying “just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you SHOULD”.
    I think if the velvet was dove gray, I’d really like this dress, but the contrast of the black and pink is just too much. The style is rather pretty.

    8 for pattern, 3 for color combination and 9 for most creative use of aniline dye for a total of 6.66, which I’ll round down to a 6 because the sleeves done in velvet seem too cumbersome for the bodice.

  5. I’m having a hard time visualizing how the top of the dress would look from a non-skewed perspective, but am not sure I’d like it even if I could. I’m not a fan of the mid 1890’s bodice styles in general.

    I absolutely LOVE the color, but understand how other people don’t (I’m a recent convert, myself). I also like the bands on the skirt, especially the spacing.

    4. Ultimately, it looks sort of like someone took a modern strapless prom dress and stuck a black velvet gigot-sleeve jacket underneath. I wish there were more photos.

  6. Probably a…… 7/10.

    I never wear pink; it is one of my least favorite colors. I like black, though, and the combination of those two colors. But I’m still not so sure of the dress.

  7. Looks like something off the movie Maverick. Maybe saying something good for Maverick, not so much for the dress…

  8. Well I love it. Never one to shie away from black and pink/red/raspberry etc, on the right brunette this would be an absolute corker. I love the shapes and the boldness of it. Yes it feels American movie-ish (an aside; was american fashion really that much bolder or is it just that Hollywood costuming paints it that way?) but I like that. I also like that it does a few tings without trying to do too many things, which in such a high contrast would be too much. I have quite a maximalist tolerance for embellishment of course. I want to be a size 6 Victorian lady and wear this. 🙂 9/10 (B.O.G.I.P)

  9. Dear God the contrast, the contrast, it burns! I think the stripes plus the jet sparklies were the last straw for me. A 3, and that’s only because I think I’d like the silhouette, if the dress were properly displayed.

  10. Joie de Vivre says

    8/10. I adore shocking pink and think it looks fantastic with black so that is a plus for me. And I think that overall it is well done. I like the stripes, I like the beading, I like the bodice. But I am inherently allergic to puffed shoulders even if they are totally historically accurate so docked accordingly. Wouldn’t wear it of course, unless it was to a costume event (but then it isn’t a 2010 dress) but I know at that costume event I’d be rocking their world!

  11. There is a bodice in the collection here at The Elms in exactly these colours, so bright. I too did not think the Victorians wore such bright colours, but remember this was the age of the aniline dyes, and bright colours like this were a novelty. And let us not forget, there is nothing a fashionable women loves more than something new and different. These colours are not for me though, and this dress has way too many horizontal lines – I think it is frumpy 4/10.

  12. I think it gets a 5 from me. It’s a stunner, but not the right kind of stunner for me. And it does have a remarkable potential for frumpiness.
    Nonetheless, the bead embelishment is lovely, and I have a feeling the bodice would look, in its own way, very good with a slightly different skirt (somehow, I’d switch the black and pink areas on it).

  13. I think this dress may have singlehandedly inspired the 80s. The lady who wore this had to have rocked a side ponytail, too. But, that said, it hurts. Much like quite a bit of fashion from the 80s. A 3, for innovation that exceeded the bounds of visual comfort.

  14. Paul Miller says

    I love to think that the naive heroine of The Heiress, Catherine Sloper, would have worn this to a ball where, as the dress deserves, she would be given quizzical glances all night. Like the terrible but disarming fashions of the 80’s Brat Pack, this dress would be charming on an interesting nerd and horrible on an arrogant socialite. 7/10

  15. I like the skirt very much and I don’t mind the colors together, I am however not a huge fan of the mutton sleeves. I give it a 7/10, With the sleeves it looks 80’s but I think I would wear it to the opera if it were strapless, take off the sleeves and collar and its kinda fun

  16. I really do not like this dress and just cant even put my finger on why exactly not. Maybe its the color combination. Maybe its the style. But my initial reaction is “oh nooooo.” So a 2 here.

  17. Frecklehead says

    It’s so shocking and weird I like it. Can’t explain why, but 8/10. :0

  18. I missed the rating period but my first thought was “day wear for a saloon girl?”

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