20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Colour + drape + embellishment = ? in 1912

I’m supposed to be on the beach on the Sunshine Coast in Australia not worrying about blogs and students and sewing (and hopefully not spiders or snakes or sociopaths either), but I have wireless internet, so I’ve been naughty and added up the ratings for last weeks  daring  1830s ‘sexy sailor’ costume.

Unfortunately it seems that most of you were too confused too comment, and those of you who did just rated it on aesthetics, since you couldn’t figure out the costume. What was the outfit supposed to be? Aesthetically it divided you, with most of you either loving or hating it, bringing it in at a middle-of-the-road 6.4 out of 10

Hopefully this week’s rate the dress, a striking 1912 frock from the Italian costume collection Abiti Antichi, will leave you neither confused nor uninterested.

Evening dress, ca 1912, Abiti Antichi

Evening dress back, ca 1912, Abiti Antichi

The display and presentation of this evening dress may not be ideal, but you can still clearly see the daring combination of gold silk satin with tone-on-tone embroidery, black velvet and net trim, iridescent beading, and a flash of teal at the waist.

Do the colours work for you?  What about the swoop of structural skirts contrasting with the more detailed, embellished bodice? Does it all harmonise into a perfect design, or is it a mis-match of too many different elements?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10



  1. Oh I love it! I tend to love this era, but not blindly, and I think this is gorgeous. The brave use of more than one or two elements seems to be part of the era’s aesthete, and of course I am all for that kind of bravery, as if or when it works it is the best!
    I love seeing the drapery in something more structural than net or chiffons, love the bodice with the cut outs to show flashes of turquoise underbodice. Could have been blac, but where is the fun in that!
    I give it a 10.

  2. I like this skirt and the neckline. Not so sure about the closure in the back. I give it an 8 out of 10.

  3. I feel an overwhelming ‘meh’ for this dress. I sort of like the draping on the skirt, and I sort of don’t. The bodice is okay, but I don’t like the neckline or the sleeves. The colour is atrocious. Overall, a 4 out of 10.

  4. 1/10

    Sadly, it looks like it has been in mud…

    I like the drape (word in english ??) but not at all the color of the belt (or maybe it shall has been over the dress, not just a little green/blue part to bee seen).

    And why black lace ???

  5. I love the colors of the silk, it adds the visual effect of the gown. Like something that is worn in a movie. The draping is awesome. The only thing I’m unsure about is the green belt, however it was probably added to balance the sequins.


  6. I absolutely love the skirt on this dress, but the bodice is a little wierd. The trim on the sleeves and at the neckline are a little too gaudy even for me, but not so much so that it makes me want to burn it. The embroidery on the bodice is a little too heavy for me as well, but I like the netting on the side of the sleeve. I think the teal and golden/butter yellow go well together, but adding black is too much for the outfit. It overpowers the rest of if. Honestly, the bodice looks almost like it came from a different era entirely, but maybe that’s just becaus I don’t like it and want it to go away to one.

    Seven and nine tenths out of ten because of the awsome skirt.

    • Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but that is exactly how I feel about this dress! The skirt = to-die-for, the bodice, well, not so much!

  7. I was thinking about how these dresses were often custom made for their wearer. Even though, the wearer was wearing the fashion of the time, they still had different body types and factors like hair and skin complexion. Sometimes I can imagine why something was placed in a particular spot or why a shade that seems weird to me was used.
    This is just a thought yet has anyone ever had these thoughts as well?

  8. I have recently fallen in love with 1910’s costumes. I love the smooth figure, embroidery on the bodice and draped skirt. I think the colours, gold and black, work fine together even though gold isn’t something I’d wear. The green spot is weird, it looks like it shouldn’t be there, like someone just happened to drop green paint on the photograph, but yet somehow still a part of the dress.


  9. I think this is quite nice, except for the colors – turquoise and gold are just not working for me. I assume that the fading on the shoulders and train is due to age, mostly I can’t believe anyone would do that intentionally. 7/10.

  10. I’m giving this a 10 – mainly because I think the skirt is absolutely brilliant.

  11. My reaction to this dress is unusual: “I want this dress. Now. For me.” I love golds and ambers, and the black collar provides a transition that would enable me (fair and auburn) to carry off the color. The gold color of the dress would turn my hazel eyes gold, too. The flash of teal is a perfect match for a necklace with an emerald that I’ve got. The skirt drape would flatter my generous hips. When I look at the close-ups on the Italian costume site, I see the dreamy embroidery and the teal beading in the sleeve and collar tying it all together.

    10/10 – I’ve never given that before.

    • Elise says

      I thought the same things about the colors and how they work. I love how the teal is carried to the sleeves. At first, though, I thought ‘I hope this original wearer was shaped like a rail’, but now I see how it would enhance a figure. 9/10

    • Oh yes Emily, I can SO see you in this dress! And you could have it too, of course… 🙂

  12. 10
    I love the skirt draping, and the netting and embroidery on the bodice are just fancy enough for an evening frock.
    The little pop of the teal inserts at front and back keeps all that gold from being too boring.

  13. Taylor says

    I love everything except that random little chunk of turquoise- What’s that about? The drape is fabulous. I’ll go with 8/10.

  14. Oh, that’s beautiful. (What I said out loud when I first saw it, lol!) I love it – the colour combination, the draping of the skirt, the neckline, the exquisite embroidery, and that bright flash of turquoise! I love it. And since the yellow isn’t actually next to the skin, I might even be able to wear this without looking jaundiced. Full marks from me! A 10 🙂

  15. I love it, think the drape is fantastic, colours are great, embellishment on bodice is perfect. Love the sleeves too! 9/10!

  16. I give it a 9…the black velvet looks a tad heavy to me.

  17. Melissa says

    I love the draping/general shape of the dress a lot! Also, I like the trim at the neck and the sleeves, though the black velvet is a little weird. I don’t like the main color of the dress, maybe the dingy gold is faded from something a lot prettier? I am imagining the dress as a similar color to the trim, which improves it.
    Also, I really don’t like the placement of the teal accent or the cutout at the bottom of the bodice that reveals the teal, it visually cuts the dress in half in a bad way.

    I think it should get an 8 out of 10, because to me it seems like disliking the color is more of a nitpick then a dealbreaker.

  18. Looking at the bigger versions I am pretty sure that the silk is shot with blue. It’s definitely the submissive colour of the two but there is a blueish hint to the shadows and curves that hint at it. Hence the choice of teal as an accent. And now I have looked at the close ups I want to give it a 12. Can I, can I?

  19. I love this! The 19 teens usually don’t catch my eye, but this is stunning. I love the color and the juxtaposition of the velvet and embroidery and the trim. I would love to see this with a better background and the right size mannequin.

    8.5/10 for the bad mannequin.


  20. I absolutely love this! I think very few people could pull off that shade of… yellow?… though, and the teal/aqua inserts at the waist seem out of place. I’ll give it an 8.

  21. I find I like a lot of the elements on this dress. The details on the top, the skirt draping, the overall shape. The fabric is a pretty color. It is just that the whole thing together… is off, somehow. I keep wavering between liking it a little bit more or a little bit less… but I think when I look at the dress as a whole I definitely go toward the liking it less end of the spectrum.


  22. Tenshi says

    I love it and I want it! It has to be mine!
    The drape of the skirt is beyond awesome. It reminds me of a flower, maybe some kind of orchid. I recently sketched out a dress design using a similar kind of draping – but this dress is waaay prettier than mine.
    Like some other commenters, I can definitely see the point of the black collar. And looking closer at the collar, I think it has a hint of blue or teal in it, it’s not pure black, which makes it even better in my book. Anyways, I think it is a clever design element to enable someone to pull of a color she normally couldn’t wear.
    10/10, though I’d rate it higher if I could

  23. Caroline says

    I really like this period, but this dress is not speaking to me! I like aspects of it but my first reaction was certainly negative. 4/10

  24. Daniel says

    The skirt is gorgeous and I love the draping/sort of dropped peg-top effect (more like peg-hem really) and yet it doesn’t really work for me, and I normally really like this era. I think it sort of slightly misses on all marks, but it’s not actively bad, it just sort of doesn’t quite work. I’m sure that if I saw it displayed another way it’d blow me away, but as it looks here, I’m not absolutely excited by it apart from the AMAZING skirt. So I’ll say a 7.5

  25. ellipsisknits says

    The skirt is a 10. I love it to bits.
    The top is an 8. Very good, but not perfect. I’m imagining that the gold has faded quite a bit, and I think it would look better in a richer color – more embossed in the embroidery and fitting better with the dramatic black collar and dark lace (which is also a 10)

    It’s sort of surprising the skirt isn’t more connected, given how carefully the top echoes the turquoise in the cuff linings and the stones and the embroidery’s knotwork.

    • ellipsisknits says

      Ok, after exploring that site some more, I downgrade my rating to 8/10. There’s some awesome stuff there. It’s a pity it’s all so badly displayed.

  26. 8/10
    I love the drape of the skirt! Although this was clearly a dress for a very slim lady – that drape would not look good on a “Slavic” type like me. 😀 Still, I love it.

  27. Love the skirt! I would imagine the lady that wore this would be slim, 30ish, and of strong personality (actress type). I see her as a fair skinned brunette with brown eyes with gold flecks. Though I like the dress on my imaginary lady (I’d give her a 10) I can not see it on myself. Being a bigger lady, the last thing I want is a patch right on my gut saying “look at me!” Even a corsette couldn’t help that visual reference. For that reason (and the fact that I’m more interested in the 1800’s) I’d never make a replica for myself. Soooooo….10-4=6. It looses 2 points for every reason I would not make this dress myself.

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