Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Maria Terese in masque

Your response to last week’s Rate the Dress surprised me. In the past, you have disapproved of children dressed in adult style clothes, so I assumed you would approve of the childlike cartoon print of the little girls dress, but condemn the elaborate construction and decoration of the dress. Instead, you liked the construction, but found the print frankly, well, ugly.  The dress did however, get the ultimate seal of approval: as a four year old, most of you would have loved it!  It rated a 6.2 out of 10

Today’s ‘Rate the Dress’ includes a child, but it is the adult who we are focused on.  Mignard depicts Maria Theresa of Spain (who is, coincidentally, most famous for having been painted as child by Velazquez) dressed for a masqued ball.

She wears a dress of multiple rich fabrics in red, gold, black, and white, elaborately trimmed with ostrich feathers (shades of Sunday’s wedding dress!) and pearls.

Marie Therese with her son by Pierre Mignard, c. 1663-1666

Maria Theresa, as a Queen of France, actually has a reputation for being exceedingly dull and boring, and for staying very Spanish.  In fact, when she died the best thing her husband could find to say was “This is the only trouble she has ever caused me”.

Is her masque costume equally boring?  Does Maria show her Spanish roots with her dress (Spain, after all, being the place where fashion went to die in historical times)?  Or did the normally insipid queen manage to show a little flair with this ensemble?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. My initial reaction was “much better than her Spanish gowns”.
    And, generally, for 17th century which seems to be the time most people are not keen about fashion-wise – this looks pretty! It reminds me of the things I used to love about 17th century! The overall shape of the dress is beautiful and very feminine and becoming.
    But it’s a bit too wild on the patterns… they break up the very pleasing lines of the dress. Sadly, because otherwise I’d really love it. I think the whole thing would immediately work much better if the underskirt were more simple. She could even keep her beloved patterns, if she made it only more hues of one colour… with the flowers as they are, the skirt is overall too busy.
    Still, I like it. I’m reminded of an old love. 🙂 So, for the sake of an old love, I give it an 8. It’s a fancy costume, after all.

  2. Kathy P says

    Love the overdress. I think the feathers are appropriate for a masque costume, and well situated on the dress.
    Like the skirt.
    If only they actually worked together.
    Mini-me’s gown is cute, though. It must have been difficult for him to drag that overcape around the palace.

  3. I don’t know why I’m not ga-ga for it. This sort of thing is usually my thing, but not this time. I give it a 5, but no other reason than my “I’m having a bad day” opinion, so you can discount it, lol.

  4. Beh. If I hadn’t read your description, I would have thought “Dear me, how Spanish…” Pass. Even worse for subjecting her innocent child to it. 3 of 10.

    Though I’m not really a student of 17th century fashion….

  5. Elise says

    It’s so sad: I’ve been to Madrid a few times, and saw all the paintings of her, each around the same age I was! When I was a kid, I was so jealous of her toys, but when I saw this picture, I noticed her eyes seemed very disinterested compared her her child’s portrait. It’s like she just started withdrawing. Just had to share.

    Her dress isn’t very pretty, is it? But it’s very well done. I give it a 6. Poor her. She reminds me of Jan Brady.

    • How sad. Poor little girl. Of course, in comparison to lots of other royal brides, she had it pretty well. She was excited about her marriage, and the first few years of it were rather blissful. Her husband may not have loved her, but he was fond of her, and demanded that the court respect her. She had a good relationship with her mother in law. No revolutions. She pretty much got to do what she wanted. It’s not ideal, but you could get worse.

      I never watched the Brady Bunch? How is she like Jan Brady?

  6. Well, I like the color scheme. 🙂

    The brocade is too busy for my taste. The headdress…well, the less said about it, the better. I’ll give it a 6, because I do like the silhouette of this period, which this dress has despite the gaudy pattern brocade.

  7. In the past, you have disapproved of children dressed in adult style clothes, so I assumed you would approve of the childlike cartoon print of the little girls dress, but condemn the elaborate construction and decoration of the dress.

    But last week’s dress wasn’t really an adult style, for all its elaboration; that kind of low dropped waist wasn’t seen on adults until the 1920s. (Just saying; I don’t think I was following your blog back when you featured children’s attire of the styles you’re referring to.)

    • Good point! The dropped waist isn’t adult-like. I guess I was thinking of all the ruffles and layers. And going in for a bit of ‘smooshing’ of comments and opinions to achieve one sentence that sort of covered it (and sounded good). 😉

  8. I don’t know. Normally I really like this era, but this one looks too agressive to me. Not my cup of tea ): 4 out of 10

  9. Minerve says

    I known this painting for a while and I always really liked it. 17th century is not my favourite period in fashion (I don’t think I’m the only one this case haha), but this dress is impressive. I don’t care if the patterns are too busy, to me it looks great… it’s a portrait outfit and after all, she was Queen.

    You’re right, she has stayed ”Spanish” in some way, we can’t help but notice lol. Spanish fashion isn’t usually my fav, but I’m warming up to it. This gets a 8.5 out of 10 from me.

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