20th Century

Rate the dress: Yves Saint Laurent, 1958

Some of you loved last week’s pink and cream 1822 dress, some of you thought it was a sad rag in dull, insipid colours and fabrics that reminded you of Grandma’s net curtains.  It rated a 7.5 out of 10

The dress I present this week carries on some of the same themes (soft net trim and monochromatic colour schemes), but differs wildly in other areas.

Yves Saint Laurent designed this dress for Christian Dior’s Spring/Summer 1958, and the fashion forward Duchess of Windsor purchased it for herself.

Cocktail dress 'Bal Masque', 1958, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Collection of the V&A

At 62 years of age, did Wallis Simpson finally make a fashion mistake?  Or was her taste as unerring as ever?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. It’s an interesting dress. But I don’t see it as an appropriate dress for an older woman, such as Ms. Simpson at 62. I am 51, and would feel absurd wearing it.

    That being said, I think it’s rather charming despite the drab color scheme. I’d give it 7.5 out of 10.

  2. Taylor says

    The dress is gorgeous (maybe not for a 62 year old woman!) but I think removing at least one bow from the bodice would make it better. Thus, an 8/10.

  3. It reminds me of Gothic Lolitas, and not in a good way. Icky icky. I can appreciate it as a dressmaker, but from a purely aesthetic pov, yuck. 3 of 10, only because I can appreciate the draping.

  4. Though Wallis Simpson can kind of do whatever she likes, she’s not like the rest of us. 😉

  5. I like it well enough minus some of the bows or maybe just daintier bows on the skirt. 6/10

  6. I thought of a weird avant-garde Lolita cupcake when I saw this.
    It’s very sophisticated in design and construction. At first glance, I thought it was just a tulle dress with bows all over it. Then I looked harder and saw it had all this foundation.
    It’s a very elegant dress.

  7. Nope, can’t go there. Pretty to look at, but with all that decoration it looks like a Christmas tree. Not even Wallis could pull that one off, in fact, I think no one over 22 could, but not many 22 year olds could afford YSL, could they?

  8. Natalie says

    I want to like it but, and I never thought I would say this, there are too many bows! I would like it much better without the bows.


  9. Hubba hubba! This dress is the 1958 laurel dress, only with bows instead of laurels. Black silk tulle over cream silk satin, sequinned, fabulous.
    I do wish they had put up an image of someone wearing it, if not Wallace herself, as I really think it would come to life on a person and lose that slightly stuffed look. I reckon even at 62 she would have rocked this dress. She was just all style.
    I’m giving it an 8, because I don’t love it as much as some of the others you’ve shown, so I have to be consistent, but I think it’s exquisite.

  10. I have hard time imagining a 62-year-old lady in it, but that’s mostly because I have hard time imagining anyone in it. It’s got quite a lot of character on its own, that’s why. A stylish 62-year-old lady could rock anything – take a look at advancedstyle.blogspot.com!
    I think I’d like it more if some of the bows were smaller; it would give it more sense of movement, I think – this way it really looks rather stiff. That might also have to do with the way it’s photographed – the background has the same colour! A different coloured background would no doubt show it “in a different light”.
    (For a reason, it very much reminds me of the modern day vinyl record jewellery. Or of vinyl records in general. And vinyl records are stiff.)
    An 8 from me, too.

    • P.S. And it keeps reminding me of 18th century dresses, and it’s not just the bows – the length of the sleeves, too! I love the length of the sleeves.

      • It really reminds me of 18th century dresses too – the stiff, conical bodice, the neckline, the length of the sleeves, the structured skirt. I think there is even a painting of Marie Antoinette in a pick up skirt with bows all over it!

  11. Julia Waite says

    You can never be too rich or too thin….or have too many bows!

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