19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: peaches and daisies in the late 1860s

Gosh, all my Rate the Dress selections have been doing so well lately!  Even when I pick ensembles I think you will all hate you like them!  I wasn’t sure what you would make of the 1917 golfing togs last week, but despite a few dismal ratings, it still managed a respectable 7.3 out of 10 – not bad for a difficult period and a saucepan hat!

Let’s see if I can do it again this week.  You often like 1860s, but this reception dress for sale on antique-frock.com is quite specific in its design details and colouring.

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

Reception dress, late 1860s, antique-frock.com

What do you think?  Is palest grey with peach and black daisy trim working for you?  Do you like the neck ruffles and skirt pleats?  The curtain effect on the skirt front?   Will this be a smash hit, or should we bring the curtain down?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. fidelio says

    I love the basic line of this; it’s one of the better hoop to bustle transition dresses I’ve seen, in that respect. I love the gray with black. I also hate ruffles, especially along necklines. I have very mixed feelings about peach, as well. On the one hand, here’s it’s not too heavy a contrast to the gray, and it livens up what could be a very dead-looking color combination. On the other hand–peach. Meh.

    I’m not altogether sold on the pleated trim–it works along the train, and while I understand why they felt the need to carry it up around the opening in the overskirt for the sake of consistency, it’s not thrilling me there. You’re right about the curtain effect.

    I do like the tightly-pleated underskirt–it’s a very different, controlled effect from the gathers or loose pleates you’d see in the hoopskirt stage and really sets the note of “Look, this is something new!”. It’s a shae the pleated trim distracts from that. I also love the embroidered ribbon, and I wish I could see it close up–no, closer than that, even.

    I can swing a 7; I start to say 8, but then I look at the black and white ruffles around the neck, and the multitude of peach-colored pleats and I find myself typing 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 over and over again.

    I love the line and the basic color combination, as well as the embroidered ribbon; I hate a lot of the details.

  2. My, it is odd, isn’t it? Somehow, though, it is pleasing to look at (for me, anyway). I actually really like the thing at the neckline–it’s weird but cool at the same time, and while I think the dark trim is a little too dark, I really can’t think of anything that would look better in its place. I must say, the shape indeed is rather nice and I love the train. The bodice looks pretty as well. I wish I could see it after it had been steamed (and it looks like it wasn’t laced properly either, but that’s just my conclusion on thinking it looks disjointed.

    I’ll have to say an eight out of ten for this one.

  3. Sineuve says

    Ha, if you wanted to provoke, you succeeded with me.

    UGLY!! Bah, I hate it from top to bottom!

    1 point to the train. Minus 1 for the color combination, minus 3 for the ruffles. Minus another 5 for the curtain effect. And the trim. and the pleats gives… minus 8. Also I dislike 1860s. From now.


    This was fun.

  4. The only thing I can think of when I see this is “bleh.” The colors don’t work, the floral trim is horrendous, and the cut looks like someone was trying to make a medieval dress but didn’t know anything about the period. 2/10, because the trim on the sleeves is kinda nice.

  5. It looks like a costume from a 1950’s movie SET in 1860, not a real dress. The shape is suspiciously New Look and the colour scheme has that OTT contrast so popular on screen then.
    Are we absolutely sure it is the real deal?
    Either way I hate to love it or love to hate it, can’t decide which. So, 5.

    • Yes but whats up with that pointy bodice? Perhaps our 1950’s costumer has 1860 mixed up with 1660?

      I keep wanting to know what a head would look like emerging from the neck-ruffle. Like something on a bed of lettuce, I suspect. We can only be glad it’s not green.

      Either way, Do Not Like. 2/10

    • Obviously we can only go on the few pictures supplied, and what the seller says, but I see nothing to indicate that it isn’t late 1860s. The bodice seaming is absolutely correct, it even has piping round the arm. I think it’s just a bad mannequin

      • I didn’t ever doubt the provenance, there are too many clues. It just has an overall feel of a ‘1950’s does 1860’s’ dress. Like Liz Taylor’s horreur rose recently covered…

      • Actually, it is also very 1980’s in those colours with black trim, but we can’t blame someone who made is 120 years beforehand for THAT unfortunate coincidence 😉

  6. It has a great color scheme, but the open-fronted overskirt is cut rather oddly. Overall, I don’t like it much–the individual features (black daisy trim, neck ruffle, open overskirt, train) are good, but the combination is grotesque. A 4 out of 10, mostly because the graceful silhouette saves it from being a total disaster.

  7. The only thing i don’t like, are the big ruffles at the collar … it would be perfect without them, i think they doesn’t fit to the rest …. 8/10

  8. 7/10. Points down for the frills at the neck, the very pointy waistline and the curtain-like front (which somehow makes me think that it reveals too much, even though it reveals nothing), but otherwise I like the oddness of it a lot. And absolutely love the black daisy trim.

  9. Love the silhouette, hate the colors. I actually really like the trim, but I think it is too dark with the pastel colors going on in the rest of the dress. The colors just make it look dirty and muddled. I think in different colors this dress could have been a real knockout.


  10. Stella says

    Love it. Love the contrast, love the colours, love the cut. 10/10

  11. Love it all especially the trim and colours. The only thing preventing full marks is the rediculously pointy bottom of the bodice.

  12. I would LOVE it, if the trimmings weren’t black. It just removes the spring look for me, and makes it look mismatchy.
    I do, however, love those colors together, and the line of the dress. It’s so feminine.

    so I think 8/10, because it’s /so close/ but with the black trim, I wouldn’t ever wear it.

  13. Lynne says

    Sharp in-drawing of breath. Really a bit too specific – no points for subtlety here. The back is not too bad, but the front! Colour contrasts too sharp, daisies looking like afterthoughts, and lordy! that skirt front! Looks as if the wearer is a mobile movie theatre. Well, I suppose she’d be a cinema – the peach is an attempt at going up-market. Bring on the pop-corn!
    5/10. And that’s because I hate failing people. Even dead people.

  14. 7. I like everything but the top most neck ruffle and the daisy trim. the black trim might work but the daisies are weird.

  15. ellipsisknits says

    Thorough meh.
    I do like the neck ruffles, and the colors don’t particularly bother me, though they aren’t impressive enough to make up for the rest. The black and white daisy trim doesn’t help, but mostly I don’t like the front panel at all.

  16. It’s pretty awful, I think. The black daisy trim is all wrong for the dress. The curtain effect on the skirt is weird and very square. I don’t mind the pleats, though. Overall, I’d say a 2.

  17. I’ve been so happy and positive lately, and then you posted this dress…I’m with Quinn: a 2.

    The color scheme is “ew” for me. I wouldn’t loathe it on that alone, but the strange front-skirt area baffled and dismays me, too. Often when a dress is a difficult color I picture somebody who suits the color scheme wearing it but…I pictured the person who looked good in this concoction, and I hated her! She was a spoiled, fading beauty, in my mind, with a pointy, snooty face and blonde ringlets.

  18. Caroline says

    Oh goodness I do not like this dress! (I’m not an immediate fan of this era anyway). I think the front rise is awful, the ruffle around the collar with the daisy band and the pleats and what looks like shoulder pads are a terrible combination, and the ruffle trim edging the skirt cut out…. I strongly dislike this dress! Maybe it would look gorgeous on, but until that is proven to me… 2/10

  19. I actually really like this dress. It’s the perfect transition to bustle dresses. . . That being said, I don’t particularly like the ruffle around the neck and the pointy bodice is a little funny.

    Overall, I think it’s cute, but not my absolute favorite. 6/10


  20. I love the square cutaway and peach pleated insets–I like to imagine they were a touch more vibrant once. And I love the pleated peach trim on the train and sleeves.

    I hate the Harlequin-esque neck ruffle and the daisies. The daises are just so…literal. Like slapped-on craft-store appliquees. Yick.

    After a second look at the bodice trim, I found it a touch slapped together and awkward, and I started to wonder if perhaps this incarnation of the gown was not the first. That the trim, cutaway front, and other elements were redone off a simpler cream gown. Which would explain how weird the neckline feels to me. Huh.

    Overall, a 7. And I’d tear those daisies off so fast.

  21. Lord, my computer is acting up. I was saying…At first I thought I hated the colors but I love the back to the colors are not the problem. The problem in the “swag” across the pleated skirt (devine). If the overskirt came to a point closer to the bodice I’d like it much better. I can’t decide about that lace stuff at the neck. I sure wouldn’t do me and my double chin any favors…. 5/10

  22. Natalie says

    I like it! I think it is sweet. I don’t like the ruffles around the neck line. They don’t seem to go. So I say 8/10

  23. Tenshi says

    This is really an odd dress. The black trim should not work. The daisys should be too in-your-face for me to like. But somehow, oddly enough, I think it works. It’s not a “OMG! Must have most beautfiul dress ever!” but I definitely do like it. 7/10

  24. Daniel says

    Are you sure this isn’t actually a doll dress and only about 18 inches high? Because then it looks absolutely adorable and makes sense… Actually now I see on the website what size it is, it might as well be a doll dress – a 29 inch bust, whoa… (That would also explains why the mannequin isn’t perfect – even a big museum would struggle to find one that small that was also workable for the dress!)

    I do find these transititional designs really interesting, although there IS something rather theatrical about this. I mean, we don’t know who originally wore it, but… yeah… it’s not entirely subtle, is it? Shades of Cora Pearl, even. You can almost see the wearer putting on a fake simper, itsy-bitsy voice, and poor-little-fragile-me-oh-I-need-a-big-strong-man-to-protect-me act. 😉

    It DOES have a very modern sensibility – reminds me a lot of Dior designs (this is VERY much a Dior colour combination!) such as the one he did for Vivien Leigh for Duel of Angels here: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O11215/theatre-costume/

    Having said that… I think I’m gonna go with 7/10 as even if it conjures up the image of a supremely irritating wearer, let’s face it, it’s sweet and doll-like and scaled down, would look rather delightful on a little Parisian poupee. (Have you ever considered doll clothes for Rate The Dress, incidentally? Out of curiosity…)

    • It is a very small dress, but even today tiny women do exist – I just made something for a woman with a 28″ bust.

      I’m not really a big fan of dolls (though my passion for historical fashion did start out with making dresses for my dolls), and part of what I like about Rate the Dress is considering the real women who wore the dresses.

  25. 1/10

    I can’t see how those colors can show off a girl wearing this…

    The pink is to much skin colored, and don’t match the black.

  26. I love this dress! It is a tad dated for my current heroine but I think I’m going to have her wear it anyway. Wonderful find!


  27. I liked it from far away, but hated the details close up. It must have been very uncomfortable to wear. 5/10

  28. 7/10

    I really like the squared opening on the skirt and I really appreciate how the squared theme is continued in the neckline, but there are some things that just don’t sing to me. I think the point of the corset goes too deep to be very attractive and MUCH too deep to be comfortable. The ruffles around the collar feel strange and out of place to me. And why does the bodice spread so far out in front of her shoulders?

  29. frifris says

    Oh, yuck, don’t like this at all at all. 2/10 for being daring with colors (unsuccessfully).

  30. Silly but oddly pretty. It’s like 1860’s meets 1970’s. 🙂 The colors are beautiful, and it would be quite pretty without the daisies. The shape is gorgeous. I especially like the sleeves, bodice and the train.


  31. I would have been cool with the peach and green. The trim just jacked it up. Too much contrast.
    I like the design details like the pleats and neckline but the colors and trim remind me of the $1.00 bin at my local Walmart.
    Like: Let’s take some leftover, mark-down fabric + trim, combine it with my underpaid , under-appreciated seamstress and Voila!: Dollar Bin Daisies & Peaches.


  32. Shell says

    I like it! I think the neck pleating and ruffles should go (leave the black daisy bit intact) and be replaced by a little pink piping or something thinner and a little less OMG FLOOFY but otherwise I’m a fan. 7/10.

  33. I like the basic look..the ruffles and pleats ..not so sure about the daisy things or the colors … 9 out of 10 for me.

  34. I like all of it except the odd ruffle around the neckline. I think if it had been left plain – just the black and daisy trim – this would rate at 10. I LOVE the lines of it, and the black saves the pink and grey colour palate from being too twee and girly. But… the ruffle. It seems out of character for the dress and adds frills where the gown wants more austerity.

    9.5 out of 10 though, because it would be really easy to take the ruffle off 😉

  35. I actually really like it! It seems like a pretty good transition from hoop to bustle in many ways. I even like the daisy trim; it is sort of folksy. Which is probably not what the dressmaker was going for, but that doesn’t stop me from liking it. The things that knock down the score for me are the horrid neck ruffles and the pointy bits on the bodice. Because the dress is already sort of a combination of two eras, it feels off-putting to have these two elements that remind me a lot of the Renaissance thrown in.

    So I’d say 7/10. It has a lot of good points, but the whole thing feels just a little disjointed.

  36. Katherine says

    I’m not a fan of the trim and the neckline ruffles, but overall it’s a pretty interesting dress. I give it a 7 out of 10.

  37. Alexandra says

    I like the design, and I like that it’s unique. I haven’t seen that particular under/overskirt design before. I particularly like the back. I would wear it.

    However, peach is not a good color on anyone.


    • Laurel Parker says

      It’s one of the best colors for anyone with a warm, dark complexion. I also love this shade of it ( between peach and blush) on redheads that don’t have too much red in their complexion. Or how about dark haired women with dresden complexions? Yummy.

  38. Laurel Parker says

    I think it’s the real deal; in fact I’d bet on it. It’s just one of those quirky examples of fashion mocking itself, through no intent on the part of the designer – it just turned out that way.

    The over all effect is that it is meant to be a theater. Look at it – it has the marquis lights and the stage lights all turned on and and the curtain is ready to rise.

    It’s actually a lovely dress, just done in very unfortunate colors – the white is all wrong ( should have been a darker shade of pink or something that held it’s own against the rest) And the embroidery is too bold and stark. I suspect this lady was using the fabric she had on hand, and didn’t realise that daisies placed that far apart and that large don;t really work.

    I’d LOVE to get my hands on the dress. I’d add smaller daisies in between these, and possibly hand paint the petals something that made them less bright. Then I would do something with that bedsheet of a skirt. Possibly hand paint a print on it, or dye it somehow. I’d also love to see the rest of this lady’s wardrobe. I bet she was a hoot and a half herself. I bet she had subconscius dreams of being on stage. Or maybe conscious ones.

  39. Laurel Parker says

    apologies for the double post. I tried to correct typos in this one while it was uploading.

  40. Suzy Peters says

    I love this very odd, theatrical ‘look at me’ dress for it’s sheer boldness. Whoever wore this would have raised looks from everyone in the room no matter what their opinions may have been! I absolutely LOVE the contrast colours tied together with the black braid. The same colour daisies key the whole look together and the texture of the peach pleating and frill break what could have been a much duller look.
    Lynne’s remark ‘Looks as if the wearer is a mobile movie theatre’ cracked me up and I do know what she means though it’s hard to visualise what else would have worked…..I think it does simply for revealing all that pleated texture!
    A raven head would have looked amazing….curious to know what the head attire might have been. I see long black spikey feathers and soft peachy maribou!!!! 10/10

  41. Esther says

    SOOOO Cute, Love it, love the time period, love every thing about it.

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