19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the dress: Regency to Romantic era plum pudding

Last week’s 1750s lollie dress wasn’t quite as much to your taste as the week’s before, mostly because of the lace capelet, but you still thought it a quite yummy 8 out of 10.

This week I’m sticking with the food theme.  In celebration of the Northern Hemisphere winter, and of the holidays, how about a warm wool evening gown in colours that remind me of a plum pudding?

This late Regency-early Romance era plum pink wool with gold satin trimmings evening frock is from the MFA Boston.

Evening dress, wool & silk, 1815-20, America, MFA Boston 46.1208

Evening dress, 1815-20, wool & silk, American, MFA Boston

What do you think?  Good enough to eat?  Does it take the cake?  Does the plum pink and gold  palette please your palate?  Is the blend of  simplicity with a few elaborate trimmings divinely delicious or an odd mix of flavours?  (OK, I’ll stop now!)

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. I usually really like this period, but I think it’s kind of “meh”. It seems like it needs a little trim, or gathering, or detail on the bodice to make it a little more interesting.
    5 of 10.

  2. I am just not feeling this one–the era isn’t my favorite, but the proportions feel especially clunky on this gown. I find the color intriguing, and the use of wide silver trim–though I don’t particularly care for the effect, the concept is an interesting one. It does put one in mind of sugarplums, doesn’t it?

    Giving it a 5–nothing too offensive about the design, but nothing too remarkable, either. To put it another way–I wouldn’t take a second helping. 🙂

  3. I think it’s rather cute! It’s too bad that the skirt has that stain on it, though. One question, though: was it supposed to be worn off the shoulders or as it is displayed? If it had a sash the same color as the trim, it would be perfect, in my eyes.

    Ten out of ten.

  4. Courtney F. says

    Not too keen on these colors together, though I concede that the way the shades have aged may really be what I dislike. 3/10

  5. Ohhh, I like it. I’d make the sleeves a little more simple, and the trim on the skirt straight instead of scalloped, but I rather like the colors and simplicity! 9/10

  6. This doesn’t remind me of plum pudding; it reminds me of raspberry yogurt! However, I still like the color–and the silver trim sets it off very well. 8 of 10 (deduction for the silly football-shaped sleeves).

  7. Stella says

    Overall I like it, but I think the bodice is a bit too bland to balance out the skirt and the petal things on the sleeves look silly. 6/10

  8. fidelio says

    I love the complex-but-not-too-complex detailing on the sleeves. Given some of the sleeves treatments from that period, this one is nice and not too over-the-top.
    I do agree with the others who felt the bodice could have used a little more oomph, to keep it up to the visual weight of the skirt and sleeve decorations.

    Aside from that (and the extent to which it needs ironing, although I know that may not be possible, given age and condition inssues) I’d say 8/10.

  9. Sineuve says

    Oh, I like it! It’s simple and charming, I imagine it could look quite flattering on a brunette with one of the silly hairdos of the time.
    I’d totally love to wear it for christmas 1820, the material looks comfy and warm and delicious.
    because short sleeves in winter are a bad idea. otherwise I think it perfect.

    Leimomi, did you get my mail from Nov 24th? Please reply, or else I’ll be sad.

  10. I love it! So beautiful! I love the color and I love that this dress is not too wild. Sometimes this era is so decorated that it completely eclipses the person wearing it.
    The trim is beautiful!


  11. Not sure if my comment went through! Here it is again:

    I love it! I love the color and the trim is perfect. I love that it’s not too wild. A lot of the dresses from this era are so decorated and extreme that they completely eclipse the person wearing it.

    In short, I love it. 🙂


  12. Polly says

    I have been a voyeur of these ‘rate the dress’ threads for some time but felt compelled to write about this one.

    It is very plain, but so lush and so suitable. It feels warm and comfortable too. Love the colour, it feels like raspberries!


  13. Taylor says

    I like the concept, but I find myself thinking the fabric is faded. If it isn’t, then it should be a darker color and I’d like it better!


  14. Hi,
    From my research, quoting from English Costume by Doreen Yarwood, I have found this dress is more from 1826 to 1837. I call it the “Babydoll” look. The 1820’s had more of a Greek style, high waisted, etc. design. The design detail on this dress is correct but the bodice would be considered plain, most of the detailing was above the waistline in this era.

    • While I agree that the museum dating is too early – I think that 26-37 is a little late. The sleeves and trim are much more exaggerated in the later 20s, and by the 1830 the waist is even lower, and the skirt is much more of a bell shape. I’d say 23-25 are the most likely years (unless, of course, the wearer preferred much old-fashioned styles).

      Anyone else with a specialisation in early 19th century fashion want to weigh in?

      • Viewing the two sketches one of 1826 and one of 1830 from the book I quoted above the styles from these dates are very similar. The 1830’s sketch does have more of a ‘Bell” skirt but waistlines look to be the same. I think you may be correct in stating the wearer could have liked an earlier style design.

        • Check out some period fashion plates – LACMA has a good selection of Ackermans from the 20’s onward and you’ll see the change in details. Yarwood is a lovely source, but a bit limited, and quite dated. It’s amazing how even history ‘dates’ over time – I’m sure all of our depictions of the past will be notably 2011ish in 40 years! I wonder what the giveaways will be?

          And welcome btw! It’s always fantastic to have another NZ voice!

  15. I adore it, it was probably a much richer plum colour once, it’s not my favourite fashion period, the awkward between styles era is how I see it. I’d give it 9/10

  16. Valerie says

    Perfect color and texture, simple and effective trim. 10!

  17. That must have been one great Christmas party to warrant a stain on such a cute skirt. In any case, I love it. It’s tastefully trimmed and I love the color combination. I do agree with Zach though, a sash would finish it off nicely.



  18. I fully support sticking with a food theme in all situations 🙂 I am generally suspicious of this period, but I think that the colors and cut of this dress are entirely acceptable. The sleeves seem a bit low set so, 8/10. My boyfried would like me to add that he finds it a mediocre 5.1/10.

    • Totally agree on food!

      It is hard to distance our feelings on a period from the garment itself isn’t it.

      And I love that your boyfriend chimed in. I don’t do percentages under .5 though, so his very precise rating is going to become just a 5 😉

  19. Those sleeves, and the padded hem – yuck! I don’t like this era in particular anyway. The color is nice though and the silver decoration. I’d say, 5/10.

  20. I usually hate this era…just one white night gown after another to my eye. I like that it has some color to it. 7/10.

  21. My kind of dress from neckline to hemline! Almost. My dress would have smaller sleeves (but then it would not fit into the era) and would not have the padded hem (perhaps ditto). So, 8? That seems a nice round number that has already gone to some of my almost favourites.

    But, really, I love it, and am tempted to make it with the above alterations. Once I finish all those other things I’m tempted to make. I love the way the sleeves are constructed, only think it’s a bit too chunky in this size.

  22. Caroline says

    Oooh I like this one. Sometimes this style is kind of bleh for me, but I like it. 7.5/10 (it’s still some what ungraceful in the style as well as combination of fabrics I think)

  23. I like the pink, not keen on the gold though I think white or a grey/silver would be better. I like the waistline height though its the level I would choose.

  24. My first time to comment, but I read up on your entire blog in the last month, so thank you Dreamstress, for creating such a fantastic place on the internet.

    I love this kind of pink, and the 1820/30 styles have really grown on me. This dress is very cute, 9/10.

    I recently moved to Boston, and the dress is on display at the MFA, I will see if I can look at it in person, and maybe report back!

  25. Daniel says

    I’ll say 7/10. It’s a nice frock but not setting my world on fire – I think the bodice is too plain compared to the sleeves and hem, and it does seem to be missing a sash or belt. Plus, it’s puce. Sweet, though.

  26. Hm…5/10 I’m not terribly impressed by the dress, but nor do I hate it. It’s nice enough, but not amazing. The sleeves are the best part, but I don’t think that’s saying much.

  27. I love it, it is unpretentious, almost naive and very practical too. It really appeals to me because of that. 9/10

  28. Very blah dress. I mean, it is fine, but not terribly exciting. The colors are fine, but the poof sleeves are just a bit too large. Overall not much to love or hate.


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