20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the dress: Lace, taffeta and flowers in 1910ish

Last week you had three opinions on the Rose Atherton dress: 1) it was designed by a man who really didn’t understand how clothing worked or what was comfortable to wear, 2) it would make a great steampunk ensemble and 3) most of you liked it, giving it a rating of 7.3 out of 10.

Hana-Marmota brought this fantastically interesting dress from the Rijksmuseum to my attention, and immediately suggested that it would be a fabulous choice for rate the dress.  I concur!

Gown of shot blue/pink taffeta and 18th century inspired machine lace, with three-dimensional wired embroidery, 1909-1912

I say fantastically interesting, because I’m not sure that it is just fantastic.  It’s shot blue/pink silk taffeta, and lace, and three dimensional embroidery, and a gathered blouson top,  and a rosette,  and a sort of bow sash, all on one dress.  Too much?  Or terrific?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10.

(apologies if I got any of the information on the dress wrong – I don’t actually understand Dutch, I just persist in the arrogant belief that I can read and translate textile discussions in most European languages much better than Babblefish can!)


  1. 9.5. Having all those different techniques and detail could easily be overwhelming, but I think this dress pulls it off perfectly. Everything works together fantastically.

    The skirt is a 10. I love how the lace and taffeta are divided by the embroidery/applique. Beautiful.

    As a personal preference, I like simple bodices, but I think this one still really completes the dress wonderfully for the time period.

  2. Susan says

    I fell as soon as I saw it! 10!
    The workmanship is amazing, and it’s the perfect romantic heroine dress.

  3. The materials are all incredible, but something is off…I’m giving it a 7, because though I love all the elements, I think the neckline is killing it. The weird crewneck-like cut is giving it an oddly nightgownish feel (the bands on the sleeves aren’t helping with that). And I’m not sure that the 3-D embroidery works here, thought it’s lovely–it’s reminding me of my friend’s shower curtain :S

  4. A bit too much. The color scheme is lovely, and the machine embroidery quite elegant and exotic. But the weird belt-like silk thing around the waist was a bit too much. (It’s the points reaching up over the breasts that kills it for me.) I’d say a 9.

      • 🙂

        Yeah, but that’s the only “off” element in the dress, for me. I see why some of the others condemn it for resembling a nightgown, but that part doesn’t bother me; nightgowns can still be deliciously lacy and full of pastel flowers.

  5. Elise says

    9.5 The colors are just beautiful, and I feel that it the flowers are balanced by the echo in the slim skirt. The minus 0.5? For the neckline that reminds me of those fishu-things that were worn in the 1820s. I think that it helps that 1910-ish is one of my very favorite clothing time periods. Too much time in Canada watching Anne of Green Gables, I think.

    Speaking of Anne, I think she would just absolutely swoon after this dress!

      • Elise says

        You think? The first one was published in 1908. Right…I am showing for that time I lived in Canada. Did any of you ever watch Road to Avonlea?

        • I remember that Rilla, the youngest, was a teenager at the outbreak of WWI–because that’s my favorite book of the series 🙂 I think the books were published a little later than when they took place, if I remember correctly…

          I LOVED the Road to Avonlea! I had forgotten about it! Hmmm…maybe I can find it on Netflix for over the winter…

          • Elise says

            Avonlea! You can find it on Youtube! Here is one episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pbfzu6mJdw I don’t know what the country codes are like, though.

            Canada had a preoccupation with 1900-1920 since so much important Canadian history–and the Avonlea TV shows–took place during that time. And since I lived there during my formative years, I guess I just assimilated tastes for those fashion periods.

            You are right: one of Anne’s sons died during the first World War. I stand corrected! (actually, I sit on the couch)

          • Thought I’d add my Canadian nickel’s worth here: yes, although I don’t think the exact date is mentioned in the first book, Anne’s mutton sleeve dress seems to suggest the time period in which the book opens is earlier than the when the book was published. Rilla’s age at onset of WWI also helps. Anyway, I love this deliciously lavish dress. 9!

          • The Road to Avonlea series was loosely based on a series of stories by LM Montgomery, so you could also read them (but the show was sooooo good. I actually live right near where many of the episodes were filmed. Many people think the series was filmed in PEI, but actually, most of the Anne movie & Avonlea sets were here in Southern Ontario!).

  6. I have a huge soft spot for lace or embroidery aided transitions of any kind and LOVE the way the skirt transitions from the lavender to the cream, likewise the bodice. LOVE the pinned up bodice, it is one of my favourite fashion trends for this era. Like others I think the neckline is a swizz on an otherwise exquisite example of delicately handled maximalism. One feels as if the dress could not take one more feature, yet I cannot see a feature I’d remove. Change a little, yes, but not actually remove. I love the florals, love the shapes and colours. 9 from me too, minus one for cop out neckline.

  7. 9.5 It’s amazingly modern, I was thinking. Being short, I’d prefer less going on at the bottom of the skirt, but that’s just me being selfish. Gorgeous dress.

  8. I love it. I’m really into 1909-1910 fashion right now, so this dress hit me on a good week. I think I’ll give it a 9. I’d love to wear it!!

  9. Ilima says

    9.5 I want it, but minus the rosette. The bodice is odd, but I think actually very flattering, and I’m absolutely in love with the fabric and the embroidery.

  10. I totally agree with Mrs. C and again you have come up with a fantastic word, maximalism, love it. I love everything about the dress except the neckline, I wonder if it was worn with a chemisette, with a lace standing collar, (if you know what I mean). I would love to see a detail shot of the embroidery. I clicked on the image to see if it would enlarge, unfortunately not, and the only words I could understand were crepe georgette, I love georgette, it has the most exquisite drape. This must be the cream fabric under the lace on the skirt. Anyway 9/10 for me.

  11. I love the mix of very delicate fabrics and embroidery. These are fabrics that I avoid personally because they are often sheer and a hassle to work with. However I’m slowly getting there.
    And the overall design and color of the dress is very balanced.

  12. Amy R says

    Love the fabric and floral work – but the nipple drape? Really? Do not hang a swag off the girl points! I rate it a 3, that front detail at the bustline is just bizarre.

    • that pointed “nipple drape” as Amy calls it, seems to foreshadow the popularity of similar inset goring in the earlier 1930s? Fascinating!

  13. Sacheverelle says

    Stunning. Probably even more so in person. I would love to examine those embroidered flowers up close.

Comments are closed.