Rate the dress

Rate the dress: a 1680s fashion plate

Last week’s 1850s rate the dress met with general mild approval, with the level of enthusiasm dependent on whether or not you like 1850s silhouettes.  The bronze-brown confection came in at a 6.9 out of 10.  However, even the people who love midcentury styles and gave the highest scores felt that the dress needed accessories.  Showing a dress fully accessorized is what fashion plates are for: they demonstrate for us, and for the ladies of the era, everything that the elegant dresser of the time should wear with their outfit.

So this week’s rate the dress is all about accessories, and what to wear with your historic frock.  Our 17th century fashion model is shown in a striped red, white and blue frock, with gold fringing and a whole plethora of accessories: bows on her headdress, a scarf to protect the hair, lace sabot cuffs with red bows, a folded fan, creamy yellow gloves, and what appears to be a fob-watch dangling from the waist.

Fashion plate by Jean Dieu de Saint Jean, 1684 from the collection of the LACMA

What do you think of our lady and her accessories?  As the clothes make the man do the trimmings make the dress?  Are the accessories too much on top of the details of the dress itself?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. Daniel says

    I like the general silhouette of this era, I think the mantua draping is so elegant and at this period, it looks so graceful and relaxed before it gets all stylized and sculptural with the panniers. The contrasting red lining is smart. I actually don’t notice all the accessories because they come together. What I like is that the accessories are either really understated or softly draped and offering softness of texture to balance the rather severe and rigid effect of the wide stripes and stiff body/petticoat.

    Rating it? Tough from a drawing, but I think this period is one of the great Forgotten Eras (along with the late 1910s) as it’s one that doesn’t get much attention. In fact, I was well into my teens before I realised that ladies in the late 17th century didn’t all walk round wearing too-big taffeta muu-muus falling off them, hanging on like dear god to their necklines to preserve their modesty, like 17th century Weightwatchers ads….

    Anyway. I’ll say 9.5/10 because the stripes are just a wee bit too aggressive but otherwise I really do love this era.

  2. I love the 1680’s mantua silhouette, and to the extent we can discern color scheme as well as accessories in this fashion plate, they are elegant. I agree with Daniel: 9.5 (my deduction is for the fringe at the hemline, not the stripes).

  3. I’m not normally into the 17th century mantua, but I am loving the stripes in this ensemble! That diagonal placement on the bodice is genius and the colours are so fun! I also like how her headdress looks like a hood. And another plus for me – fob watches at waists always remind me of Moll Flanders, which is a Good Thing!

    For all of the above, she gets a 9/10 for me! (She loses one mark for the cuffs being a bit meh and the fontange-ness of her headdress – I hate fontanges!)

  4. Elise says

    What did Chanel say about accessories? Take off the last thing you put on? Ok, so it is overmuch, but not over the top. I love the stripes, and the colors. I couldn’t help but think how perfect it would be, with adjustment, for a jacobin a hundred years later! Anyhow, like Catherine and Daniel, I find it elegant. 9/10

  5. I loves it so much! I would totally wear this! Except, I do not like the giant white sheet tied around her head. Since the task is to evaluate with all of the accessories, it loses a point for that. Other than that… love this dress.


  6. I’m sure the fringe at the bottom served a practical purpose, but it kind of ruins an otherwise lovely dress. Awning, anyone?

    8/10- points off for fringing

  7. Lovin’ a striped mantua with chevron frontage. How could I not!! While the striped fabric in r.w.b and gold fringe does of course evoke royal wedding bunting to our modern eye, I like it anyway. I like all of it except the head scraf. She looks like she was eating a raw carrot and hurt a tooth, and the scarf is to hold a soothing poultice in place. But it really is a little thing!

  8. I like this Baroque fashion style. It’s very natural looking and elegant. I loved how the ladies would wear manteau with lace. The sleeves are lovely yet I wouldn’t make the whole outfit out of striped fabric. Lol.


  9. Red, white and blue- very patriotic. I’m going to give this a 7, but only because this lady is French and can pull it off. If an English girl were to wear it, she would be laughed out of town- the stripes would be far too much. In regard to your accessories question, they do help to detract a little from the overpowering stripes, so that’s definitely a plus.

  10. Elizabeth says

    I don’t honestly know much about this particular period of fashion, but this plate is AMAZING! I love this ensemble and I wish I had it! 10/10 for me!

  11. Divine, delicious, de-lovely, I want to make one now – in that colour-way!

    I actually don’t usually like much late 17th century stuff, too often the waistline has been elongated to a silly length and making the skirt look disproportionately short. However, comparatively naturalistic examples, such as this, can be very lovely.

    9.5/10 – as others, the half point off is for the fringe.

  12. Kim says

    I give this an 8. I love the stripes and the accessories. What I don’t like is the use of the color yellow. The stripes are red, white and blue, the lining is red and the scarf is white. If the fringe and gloves had been white or blue or red, I would have rated this dress and accessories higher.

    • LOL, for me, the yellow gloves are what make this ensemble work. If they had been red, white, or blue, I feel it would have been far too matchy-matchy.

  13. Zach says

    Had the train been more fitted to the gown (as in not just draped on the back, making a flat plain, cascading to the floor) itself would have been extremely lovely. Accessory wise, it could have done without the gloves and headdress. Everything else is wonderful.

    Nine and a half.

  14. Hm, yes, I like this. I actually like the fringe as well, and the yellow gloves to match – just the right amount of contrast. Don’t like all that stuff on top of her head though (especially the scarf), so it’s a 9 out of 10 for me.

  15. Like most everyone I love this outfit, it just works and I give it 9.5, one accessory I don’t like – the black beauty spots on her face. The dress love love love.
    Thanks for Internet Fabulosity recommendation darling.

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