19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the dress: Maria Josepha of Saxony

Gah!  I’ve been having bad luck with my Rate the Dress selections lately.  I saw a great one, bookmarked it to go back later and get the picture, went to write my post, and the site is down and I can’t find the picture.  To fill in the gap, I’ve gone with the theme of ‘bad luck’, as it suits both last week’s dress and the subject of this week’s dress.

Last week’s very colourful Rate the Dress‘s  bad luck was that you did not approve of it, either because of the colour or because of the ruffles of the lower skirt.  It rated a 5.9 out of 10

For our bad luck lady, I present Maria Josepha of Saxony.  Nope, it’s not Marie Antoinette’s mother in law (the one she never met), this is a different Maria Josepha of Saxony, two generations later.

Maria Josepha’s bad life began early in life – she lost her mother as an infant.  She herself died, young, and without any children, at 26.  Her other bad luck was sartorial: the poor thing had to live her whole adult life in Spain (which, as we all know, is where historical fashion goes to die).  At least she had an adoring, if older, husband to dote on her.

Francesco Lacoma y Fontanet (1778-1849), Maria Josepha of Saxony, 1820s

Maria Josepha was apparently notably pretty, and her state portrait captures her delicate features and elaborate garb: a gold embroidered satin gown with elaborate red train, lace trim, ostrich feather headpiece and lashings of emeralds.  Just the thing for a green eyed brunette of tender years and royal status, or overdone and fussy?  Or just boring for the timeperiod?

What do you think? Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Kathy P says

    This isn’t bad, especially for Spanish fashion. The only thing I don’t like about it is that lace ruff around the neck. It seems a bit to fluffy for the lines of the rest of the dress. Otherwise, it flatters her figure well, the colors aren’t overdone, and even the ostrich feathers aren’t overblown.
    The one glove thing is a bit perplexing to me. I’m sure there is some social convention being followed, and the bared arm is to show off that lovely emerald bracelet and rings, but it looks a bit odd.

  2. I like the dress itself–it’s a fairly simple gown of the period. But the lace collar and trim are too heavy and jarring, and the feather is absurd. (Such feather headdresses are characteristic of the period, I know, but they’re still absurd.) It is fortunate that we can’t see that strange red train, which is fastened to her waist, of all places.

    I’ll give this one a 7, purely because it’s fixable, so to speak.

  3. Kathy P says

    I was wishing we could see the train thing. Is it a train? Is it an overskirt? Does it have some ornate and overdone embroidery or trim on the bottom that would totally destroy the entire outfit?
    Yeah…maybe you’re right and it’s just as well we just get a glimpse of it.

    • I’m sure it is a train/overskirt rather similar to the one that Josephine wears in her coronation picture, which means yes, lots of ornate embroidery at the bottom!

  4. Really with those looks she ought to be a Maire or a Niamh! Very celtic. Assuming the one glove thing isn’t some very early premonition of Michael Jackson (Mari-Jo is not my lover…) I love this. It’s for a coronation so it ought to be happening. Given the inevitable OTT train, the feathers and frill are needed to balance the outfit. She’d look very Eliza Bennett without it all.
    I’m giving it a 12 to make up for all the minimalists!

    • 10!

      I like Empire waists very well, and I think the whole thing looks very nice altogether. I even like the feathers!

      Her face just cracks me up. So did MrsC’s comment even more so!

  5. Madame Ornata says

    Yes a 10 from me too. It’s fabulous; elegant, sumptuous and perfect for a coronation. Bring on the OTT and embroidery. I’m not entirely convinced about the neck but it seems to work despite my natural tendency to dislike this kind of thing.

    Ha ha ha her expression and the fan, “Laugh at my feathers and you’ll experience firsthand just what I can do with this fan…”

  6. Wow, she looks ticked off. Maybe the dress is worse than it looks, and that’s the reason. Or she ate something that disagreed with her or swallowed a lemon. Regardless, between the ticked off face and that really high lace collar, the very top part of her makes me think, without really wanting to, of a pig stuffed in a dress.

    But, that aside–I love the fabric (the gold and white and red are lovely), and the emeralds (though she could lose a couple rings and her hand would look the better for it), and the bitsy little sash across the bodice. I do find the feathers OTT–perhaps a couple fewer and she’d check out ok, but I think they may have placed an entire ostrich on her head. She’s getting a 7 and the suggestion that smiling might be a nice idea, because she really would be a pretty girl without the lemon-face.

    • Elise says

      Hahaha! I thought the same thing! I once had a German boss (from the province south of Saxony), who had that very same pinched expression upon reviewing any of my work!

      And I love the dress. I think just like Madame Ornata that it’s perfect for a coronation. 9.

  7. Melissa says

    Other then the fussy lace collar, I really like this! it seems like the 1820’s empire waist was not always the most flattering, but it suits the dress well, and it looks good on her. It is hard to tell from this picture if the train adds or detracts, but I’ll just assume that it looked good 🙂

    I’ll give it a 9.

  8. Sandimonium says

    Love the dress, not so crazy about the headpiece. I wish we could see more of it! I’d give this a 9. She kind of looks like Kristen Stewart to me, if Kristen ever closed her mouth. Hehe.

  9. I like the dress just fine. I think the red and gold is pretty classic and works well together–I’d love to get a look at the embroidery on the train. I agree with the posters who would like to see her smile, but that would be a little out of the ordinary for time and place, wouldn’t it?
    I’d give it a solid 8, but I’m taking off a full point for the emeralds. I love emeralds and they go fine with this outfit, but I keep thinking she’s married to an emerald salesman rather than Ferdinand VII, King of Spain. I wonder what jewels his other three wives wore in their state portraits?

  10. 9. It’s good over-the-top Regency, which is different from what we usually expect from the period, but good nonetheless.
    The point down is for the lace collar, mostly because it kind of kills the necklace, which is a pity.
    And look, she has smiling problems, too!

  11. I rate Maria Josepha’s Regency dress 9. It’s a good over-the-rop royal Regency, which is not what we usually expect from the period, but good nonetheless.
    Also, she apparently had smiling issues, too!

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