18th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Marie Christine in lots of pink

With most of the ‘Rate the Dresses’ I’m happy to sit back.  I like hearing what you have to say: the comparisons, the opinions, the different design perspectives.  Very, very occasionally though, I feel the need to leave my own comment.  Last week’s Rate the Dress was one of those.

And because this is my blog, I get to post it up front and centre:

If  Worth Jr’s contemporaneous afternoon dress  was “small furry animal tipped the inkwell over, amused itself in the subsequent puddle, then took a stroll across the sketches for the new season” with results included in the final garments, this dress was ‘small furry animal vomited hairball on sketch, then tipped the inkwell over and rolled in the puddle, shedding copious amounts of hair in the process, and finished up by leaving hair-enriched turds on top of it all’ with results included in the finished garment.  If I could give this a -10, I would, but the lowest the rating goes is 1 out of 10.

But clearly you guys didn’t agree with me.  Many of you even liked the dress, bunny ears, chest breadsticks, raggedy hemline and all, giving it an inexplicable (at least to me) 6.5 out of 10.  Even including my vote would only take it down to a 6.2 out of 10

Since last week was far too scary for me, this week’s Rate the Dress is retreating to safer territory: the lovely, comfortable, consistently well-rated 18th century.  And a famously fashionable 18th century family too boot: Marie Christine was the daughter of Maria Teresa of Austria, and Marie Antoinette’s sister.

Based on this portrait, she shared her sister’s taste for extravagant fashion, and looks far more likely to have desired the notorious necklace of the affair of the diamond necklace.

Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, Duchess of Teschen, circa 1765

Maria Christina sports a dress of pink silk brocade elaborately patterned in a design that echoes her lace sabot sleeves, and the lace around her neckline and down her stomacher.  Dark pink rosettes add a counterpoint to the pink of the dress, but the highlight of the outfit is the aforementioned jewels, which centre the rosettes, sparkle around her wrist and neck, in her ears and down her front, and are scattered through her hair.  You almost don’t notice the fur lined velvet throw which her nice and snuggle, or the a cluster of rosebuds and white flowers hinting at the oncoming of spring.

What do you think?  Too pink?  Too busy?  Too much jewellery?  Or were diamonds (and pearls) a girl’s best friend, especially when paired with a pink dress, well before Marilyn, back when gentlemen preferred greys?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. I kindof like it. I’m not saving it in my tumblr folder of to-die-for-dresses, but I like-ish it. I give it a 7

  2. It loses a point for the bow on the bust. I am not usually a fan of pink, but I do like this dress a lot. It feels very 18th century Barbie.


  3. ellipsisknits says

    Too much in a bad way. Too much contrast. Too much pattern. Too cloyingly warm colors.

    Also, that necklace looks like part of a robotic exoskeleton holding her head on.


  4. Too much for my tastes. Too much of everything, except the roses. I’d prefer it with less diamonds and more roses, I think (and I’m not a big fan of roses).
    5? It’s not bad, just over the top with the jewellery, so it would be much more for the dress itself…

  5. Her lips and cheeks match the bows and brocade respectively. I have to agree that the jewelry under her chin is either holding her head on or securing all those braids, which sort of make it look like a hair bonnet.

    50 to 75% less jewelry and 50% more rosebuds would make a prettier picture.

    I really like the dress itself, lace, bows and all. 8 for the dress, 3 for the setting (more rosebuds! less jewelry!) so 5 overall?

  6. Small not so furry animal got into the jewellery box…? HEHEHE!! I love your take on “Grisabella does Edwardian!”

    • I was thinking that the diamond-bow choker would look less out of place place round the neck of a spoiled persian in a posh cat-food commercial.

      I would rate the dress, but I can’t actually see it under all that … stuff.

  7. Stella says

    I love OTT bling. I guess I must have been a magpie in a past life. I usually don’t love pink, but I do like it here. 10/10

  8. Jenny Wren says

    Yech. Does nothing for me. Even without the trim and the bows, just the colour combo of the silk and the lace makes me uncomfortably warm. The poor woman looks like she’s baking- look at those cheeks!


    • Daniel says

      Too much. I normally like 18th century, but can’t really judge this as there’s so little dress visible. All that pink and sparklers has shades of Burbling Cartland about it, with a distinct soupcon of Dame Edna.

      The pink and white fabric is beautiful and I suspect without all the flash and glitter it’s probably a very pretty dress, but there’s just too much going on there.

      Oh God, I just noticed the rat-tails or whatever they are coming out of her head. That just killed the whole thing stone dead for me and ruined it. Was about to give it a 4/10 because I liked the fabric, but now all I can see is a snaky grey rat’s tail swinging about so all I can say is 2/10.

      • Daniel says

        Sorry wasn’t meant to be a reply to Jenny Wren!!

  9. “Ma name is Marie Christine and ah is gonna wear lispig on ma lips an cheeks and has a big fat gypsy wedding. Ah likes shiny tings and ah likes pink and ah likes to have me crown hangin’ around in da background to remand peeps that ah am a princess! Ah gonna show ma beeaach sister Toni dat ah am prettier dan her.”
    I love it. It’s like that Pippa tart sashaying down the aisle upstaging her sister all over again. (well, chronologically, the other way around) I love the colour which is more coral to me than pink, and that fabric, but not the sleeves and I love the rosebud spray, such a pity she left da bling to that one piece. So much more striking than wearing every single piece she owned or could borrow.
    So dress? 7. Outfit/ensemble? About 2 million francs? And about 3 points. My 7 stands as this is rate the dress, not the outfit 🙂

    • Now you and Sarah are both just being smarty pants! I’ve made it abundantly clear that the ‘Rate the Dress’ concept includes the entire outfit, and you have been around long enough to know that!

  10. If you cut the portrait off at her neck, and just saw the dress, I would give it a 10. I love the bows, and the pink, and the longer necklace isn’t too bad, either. But when you add the hairstyle and the diamond bow holding her head on, she looks ridiculous. And it would cause my vote to lower to a 7, since she looks like a blinged-out sheep. But the dress is lovely!

  11. As I look at it closely, I see several things to complain about (the silly sleeve bows, the weird diamond collar, the flowers that don’t suit this dress at all), but when I unfocus and look at the dress as a whole, I absolutely love it. 9/10

  12. Elise says

    She looks like she is being choked and gagged by the neclaces. Really, it looked like she was taking part in a very very expensive bondage scenario.

    She is definitly a more-is-more person throughouly enjoying her Baroque sensiblities. This is definitely another Anne of Green Gables dress remincient of the other flouffy one you showed before. It’s ok for what it is.

    7. I have a pet peeve of necklaces that extend below the neckline.

  13. I feel so much better after reading your comment at the beginning of this post about last week’s dress. I was worried I would be quietly asked to leave the building after being too critical but now my comments don’t seem quite as harsh.

    This dress is all about power and status. Every element is deliberately chosen to push this message home. It’s the carefully controlled world of Dangerous Liaisons where fashion is so much more than just getting dressed in the morning.

    In its context I think this ensemble works exceptionally well. The colours are rich and harmonious, the proportions are well balanced, and the detail is sumptuous. The jewellery she wears is tangible proof to all and sundry of her wealth and nobility. This is power dressing at its finest.


  14. I love the dress–it’s perfectly ornate, and the color is smashing. I’m all about the sleeves and I think the rosettes are just perfect. But what’s that line about get dressed, put on your jewelry, then take half of it off? Yeah. That would have been a good call here. I get showing wealth, I get going over the top with elaborate accessories, I get that it’s the Roccoco way. This is still waaay too much. With one necklace, one set of bracelets, and all the crap picked out of her hair (because really, painted, it looks like she stood under some flaking plaster), this would be divine. As a sidenote, I adore the flowers pinned to her dress–they didn’t translate into paint very well, but I imagine in real life they would be a delightful spray of freshness on an ornate gown.


    • Might I add, that goes for her hair, too–please get rid of the 18th-century mullet. Please. The long curls are–you guessed it–too much.

  15. Zach says

    I absolutely LOVE everything about that dress. The colors are magnificent and the diamonds are beautiflul in their excess. I even love the bow at the neck (I have a bit of a problem; I am not only obsessed with diamonds–I could just swim in them, feeling the utmost ecstasy–but I also love bow-shaped diamond jewelry). I can’t think of anything to say because I love it so much, except that her sister Antoinette would have looked better in it.

    Ten out of ten!!!

  16. Power dressing is right! She has made sure that all viewers know who she is, and lest they forget, there is her crown just at hand.

    I’ve grown to prefer the 1760s to the 1770s, largely because the hairstyles are a trifle less high. My only wish here would be that her love locks be a little thicker: they seem out of proportion and a bit lank. While the bow part of her necklace was very in fashion, I think the ensemble as a whole would have been more elegant without it.

    The rest? Gorgeous. The fabric and trimmings lovely, so too the accessories.

    I give it a 9 out of a 10.

  17. Delurking finally! I shouldn’t like this dress. I’m not a fan of pink, and while some lace is lovely excess frills generally get a meh from me. But despite all that I really like it! If I were just rating the dress I’d give it an 8, but since we’re supposed to rate the whole ensemble it would have to be a 6. Too much bling, and that neck bow kills me.


  18. Love all the comments, and I love the dress, without all the embellishments that have been added to put across the more permanent message of a portrait painting. I wonder what the context of of this painting was and what she was trying to say and to who. It is obviously a statement of status and power, but why the glowing red cheeks?

  19. Betsy says

    OK, you know those trash bugs that crawl around with bits of lichen and bark collected all over their backs for camouflage? Well, the diamond pins which she has had her lady-in-waiting stick all over every part of her costume and head, look like big trash bugs that have covered themselves in bits of dandruff and white-lead hair-powder crumbs that they found in her hair. Look, more are crawling from out of the pile of hair on top of her head!

  20. I am late to the game here, hopping over from the second portrait of Marie Christina. The two portraits show so little similarity I wouldn’t recognize them as the same woman.

    I think this portrait looks like a power play for sure. On my monitor the color seems more red than pink. The color of the the gown matches the crown. Is it different for you? Did she have a pink crown? Maybe the snuggly throw is a state robe? It looks like she is wearing every bit of diamond jewelry she owns, showing all is well economically within her realm. Thinking of wearing that choker makes it hard for me to breath and looking at the earrings hurts my ears. 8/10 because I think it conveys exactly what she (or someone else) meant it to convey.
    Under it all I really do like the gown and fabric.

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