18th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Hedvig Charlotta in mid 18th century candy stripes

Well dear readers, you have spoken on the 1860s cotton wedding dress, and the verdict is in: you LOVE it!  Well, most of you.  The ruffles were a bit much for some, and that era does come with its own cultural baggage, so the rating came in at a still very approving 8.7 out of 10.  

It would have been even higher but for the half dozen of you who were so overcome by love that you forgot to include a rating in your “LOVE, ZOMG, WANT, DROOL etc.” posts!  If you don’t give a rating I can’t really count it!

Will this week’s Rate the Dress also meet your approval and continue the winning streak?

I present influential Swedish poet and feminist, Hedvig Charlotta  Nordenflycht, caught in the act of writing a poem by Swedish artist Ulrika Pasch.

Portrait of Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht (1718-1763) by Ulrika Pasch, ca 1750

Hedvig is very modishly attired in a pink robe with striped ribbon trimmings (do they remind you of peppermint candies?  Or licorice allsorts?  This outfit always makes me crave lollies!), lace cuffs, and a lace capelet.

Is the combination of pink and stripes and lots of bows too cutesy?  Or the perfect blend of 18th century pastels and Hedvig’s own darker personality?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. I have never understood this business of having large bows down your torso – it looks so cartoony to me. Same for the bows on the sleeves, come to think of it, just all the bows (why do you want two at your collarbone – so ridiculous!) If you took away all the bows, I could see a 9/10, but as it is, 5/10.

  2. very nice dress! but i would wear other textures at the neck and in the hair…….
    and this lace capelet – great!
    9 points.

  3. Stella says

    I like it, but I think the lace capelet is a bit much so I’m going to deduct a point for that. 9/10

  4. fidelio says

    Isn’t the set of bows down the front called echelles or something like that?

    It’s not a look I’d go for for myself, but when I see it on 18th century dresses, it often works very well with the lines of those styles. I think in this case the black and white stripes are a nice touch–black and pink are a classic combination, and here the white helps heep the black in balance. This is so many thousands of times better than the portrait of Maria Christina of Austria you posted a while back that it hurts.

    For the era, this has a lot of balance and restraint–even the little lace cape comes across as a nice extra, not an example of Piling on the Goodies. If you arne’t much for this era, you aren’t, but I think it’s a lovely example of the style Mme. de Pompadour made famous. It helps that Nordenflycht has the personal presence to carry this off, instead of being overwhelmed by her own clothes.

    The bows would probably come across better were this a full-length view–I find that in such examples they’re a lot less obtrusive because the skirt balances them out.

    Also, if I understand correctly the way things were worn back then, she could dump that set of bows for another one fairly easily if it suited her.

  5. I adore it! I might just go and make a jacket in pink with black and white bows now, thanks to this image. I’d leave off the lace neckerchief-thingy, even though I kinda like the texture it adds.

    I give this a 10!

    I love it!

  6. I think that the bows look nice with the dress; I do love pink on a woman. I think the pink and lace are great and the dress would look great without the bows, but they don’t hurt it either. I would love to see what the bottom of the dress looks like. I also really like the portrait in general–it’s so soft. It almost seems like it must have been painted some time in the morning when the birds were just waking and singing their songs.

    Nine out of Ten.

  7. Caroline says

    Really pretty, but I’m not sure how I feel about the lace capelet. 8/10

  8. Natalie says

    Her outfit suits me to a T; wouldn’t change and thing, and agree that when shown with the whole dress, the effect would be quieter. Love the capelet! Want to make one!

    What Zach wrote about the softness of the painting and of the day…perfect.


  9. I love the overall style and the color, but I think the b/w bows contrast a bit too much with the pink of the dress. Something softer would have been nicer….

  10. I love the black and white striped ribbon. As with many comments I am not a lacey type of gal, so if I were to do this I would not use the lace except for a discreet edging around the neck and the black and white bows would just as they are. Very pretty. So, I would rate this as an 8/10 because of the lace. Cheers

  11. I don’t mind the bows on the dress but I just don’t think the colour of them matches the dress, i’m going to give it a 5/10

  12. I like fidelio’s comparison of Maria Christina of Austria’s dress to this one.
    This dress is MUCH BETTER.
    Black does go with anything.
    At first, one would think the pinstriped bows plus pink fabric would be too cutey however in a way they work together to create a balanced dynamic outfit.


  13. I think the mostly black-with-thin-white-stripes on the bows are a bit overpowering. Otherwise, I like the dress a lot, and think it suits the wearer well. 8.5 out of 10.

  14. I love the black and white striped bows. They’re quirky and adorable. I actually kind of like the lace. I’m not a fan of the pink color, but I think it works with the black and white, red would just make her look like the precursor to the candy-stripers.

    Overall, 8.5/10


  15. I like it. I wish I could see the skirt. If I made for myself I think I’d made the bows a tad narrower and wouldn’t wear a bow around my neck. 7

  16. I always love this style of dress, but for me the bows kill this one. Well, not the bows so much, but their color. For me the contrast is way too much, the dark stripes make me thing “Jack Skellington” “Beetlejuice” and “Halloween.” I do love the lace/pink part of this dress though, so it gets a bonus point for that (anything that makes me like pink gets a bonus point). Actually, if the bows had been a different color, this would have gotten a much higher rating from me, but I really, really dislike the contrast. Her hair is lovely though.


  17. I think the bows stop the dress just blending into the background. And tat is my fave shade of pink.

  18. Oooh, I think this is lovely! Those black ribbons are so unexpected, and for me keep the outfit from being too frilly and girlish. (If the ribbons were pink, say, I suspect I wouldn’t like the gown…) But I think it’s gorgeous, and I would definitely wear it myself! I particularly like the neck ribbon.

    (Also, the details in the painting are fantastic. Look at that lace!)

    I’m not totally sure what’s going on with that cream-coloured bow across her collarbones, but it doesn’t significantly detract. I’d give this 9.5/10. Love 🙂

  19. I think it’s utterly charming! I do so like the combination of black, white and pink, and while some may think the contrast is too high, I think it’s just right. I’m only unsure about the capelet, it looks slightly awkward to me. But I still give it a 9/10!

  20. Daniel says

    I’m late to this. I hate to make the joke, but I can’t resist. Bah, humbugs everywhere!!

    This is a tough one. Not sure what I make of it because it really does nothing much for me, although I don’t hate it or dislike it at all – it’s just not really doing anything for me. Nice dress, nice fabric, nice colours, funky humbug bows adding a bit of edge and contrast, but yeah – gonna have to say a 6/10 for not being nasty, but not really thrilling either.

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