19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Clovers & green in 1897

Last week Elizabeth of Bohemia in her flowered frock elicited lots of comments on early 17th century silhouettes, farthingales, ruffs, and the advisability of dressing children as adults, but overall the sumptuous fabric won out, and she got the best rating yet for a first-quarter-of-the-17th century gown, coming in at 8.2 out of 10.

As it’s St Patrick’s day week I thought it would be fun to have a St Patrick’s themed Rate the Dress.

What could be more Irish (only, well, it’s French) than this medieval influenced gown from 1897 from Les Arts Decortifs?

Dress in two parts, 1897, France, Brocaded silk satin and velvet, Les Arts Decoratifs

Dress in two parts, 1897, France, Brocaded silk satin and velvet, Les Arts Decoratifs

It’s got clovers!  It’s green!  Is it adorably timely or just a bit too costume-y?  Will this dress get lucky and hit the pot of gold (OK, I really need to stop now) or prove to be no more than Leprechaun’s treasure – where the gleam wears off when you try to grasp it (OK, I really, really need to stop now).

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Y’know, I’m torn between saying “That’s really lovely detailing and color choice” and “Holy, Emerald City, Munchkins!”

    I guess that means I’m half and half. 😉 I’ll go with 5/10

    • Zach says

      Oh my gosh, yes!!! It is SO Emerald City!

      I know it looks odd–I can admit it–but I really love that vest thing. Green Velvet = awesome. It’s also very interesting! It took a little imagining but I think I can actually see someone wearing this dress. It would take a seriously fun person to pull off such a seriously fun dress like that. The collar, to me, looks like it has been drug through the streets of Frump City, and I despise poufy sleeves on anything other than non-proportional fashion drawings, so that takes it down a notch. Nonetheless, the clovers are pretty cool.

      Seven out of ten. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  2. Ok, I can’t help it – it is so over the top costume-y that I just absolutely love it! I love love love the train of the dress. There are a lot of elements here that I normally wouldn’t like (puffy sleeves, the large clover pattern, and the green color on the bodice even), but somehow they all work together in this gown. I feel as though I want to not like it, but I can’t help it, I have totally fallen for this dress.


  3. I’m with Lauren – a 10 because I want that dress! I love the colors and the vest / bodice is definitely a plus in my book.

  4. I love the silhouette and the colors and the vest and sleeves and well, I guess I love the whole thing except maybe the huge shamrocks. It makes me think of a princess dress from an early sixty’s medieval movie…like The Court Jester (bestest cheesy movie ever…Danny Kaye!!). Even so, I still love it.

    9 out of 10

    • Elise says

      Hahaha! Vessle with the pestle!

      I like it too, it leaped out of a fantasy of some middle school Elise’s brain. I just…can’t rate it!

  5. ellipsisknits says

    “Holy Emerald City, Munchkins!” is right. This looks like a children’s movie’s impression of what the St. Patrick’s day princess looked like in ye olden dayse.

    Then again, for a st. patrick’s day princess’s wedding gown, it’s really rather nice, just completely lacking the ability to be worn in public outside of a parade.

    Though, the cream doesn’t go with the green and white to my eye, and while I get that they were trying to show off the fabric, the skirt is too plain for the top.

  6. Natalie says

    I want to like this dress so much but I just can’t bring myself to really like it. It kinda hurts my eyes. The idea is fantastic but the white with the green just isn’t working for me. If only they had used a more pleasing color with the beautiful green bodice.


  7. Seamstrix says

    I really like it. I love the nod to Elizabethan slashed doublets and it’a almost Pre-Raphaelite pseudo-period sensibility. 9/10

  8. Lynne says

    I think Ginnie Wise nailed it in the first post! There is much to love, but much about the dress makes me want to laugh. “Holy, Emerald City, Munchkins!” indeed! But I do love theatrical costumey things, and the Ruritanian/Elizabethan armour bodice is amazing. Do we think that is gold or cream embroidery and neck pieces?

    7 out of 10.

  9. Jenny says

    I love it! It’s over-the-top comstumey, but adorable. Love the colors and the shamrocks, and the green bodice is gorgeous 🙂


  10. Stella says

    It is silly and costumey, but in a good way. 7/10.

  11. Even though I hate huge puffy sleeves, I can’t help but love this dress! It’s so over the top funny that I’d even wear it. Also St. Patrick’s Day is my favorite holiday despite my lack of Irish heritage.



  12. Caroline says

    I think the skirt fabric is pretty horrible! The top bit is ok, but over all I dislike the dress. 3/10

  13. The bodice reminds me of a doublet.. I like it. I also really like the shamrock patterned brocade. Where can I get that? (kidding)

    Do you know if this was designed as a send up to the Irish, or is it just coincidental? Since I don’t study that kind of thing, sometimes its hard to know what symbols and colors have been linked to a holiday/culture for centuries, and which are the by-product of a mass-consumerist age..?


  14. Grace says

    I LOVE the silhouette, I love the train, I love the fabrics, I love the vest! I just don’t love the way they all look…together. I also am not terribly fond of the sleeves. 7 for that beautiful silhouette.

  15. It looks beautiful, well made, thoughtful and rich, but so very costumey from the peplum up. The Elizabethan-ruff collar especially is a step too far.
    I do like the shape, apparant weight, colour and pattern of the skirt though.


  16. Ooh, I love it even though I feel like I shouldn’t! For the most part, it is combining the best of the middle ages and the 1890’s. I don’t like the ruffled collar, or the clover pattern (it seems a bit cartoonish and out of sync with the rest of the dress) but everything else is great! 9/10.

  17. It’s very pretty, and very in theme for St. Patrick’s Day, but it seems just a bit silly to me. 8 of 10 (the deduction is for the silliness).

  18. I can’t believe you found such a perfect and timely dress! I love the dress- the silhouette is so beautiful. The skirt is a lovely fabric, and hangs so beautifully. I think the gold of the bodice and the texture seem too bright and heavy for the rest of the gown. If it had been the same creamy white as the skirt, and a lighter texture, I think it would work better. I love the Elizabethan revival of the bodice! Overall, the textures are too jarring together to make me love it. 6 out of 10.

  19. Sue McCaskill says

    Don’t like the collar or sleeves, but the vest part is nice. Not something I would wear. 6/10

  20. Polly says

    Very Disney… long before Disney! but love it all the same, actually love everything about it!! 10/10

  21. Laurel Parker says

    That is a fabulous dress. absolutely devine on the level of a Worth gown. Sure it’s dramatic, but that doesn’t mark against it unless the woman wore it to upstage a bride or something.

    It also lives in my very favorite museum in all the world, which is something considering I grew up in the museum industry and my husband works in it. Exhibits were scented, sometimes humorous ( a marvelous exhibit on good luck charms that included French letters ( condoms)), and my favorite thing that museums rarely do – dozens of examples, rather than one chosen item isolated in a case.

    • Oh dear! I actually hate when Museums do dozens of examples. There are only so many scarabs or Buddhas or pairs of gloves that I can find interesting! At least you never see it with textiles (or you shouldn’t ever see it with textiles due to their light sensitivity). I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  22. Cornelia Moore says

    I think Grace said it best…except ditch the shams. the silhouette is to swoon for, the doublet top is fantastic (though I’m a disliker of poofed shoulders, be they Edwardian or Disco period, yet, with a doublet, they work in this dress). this works well in solids, but is a poor mishmash of things that are not tasteful together in this construction. a 6/10, for the same reasons Grace gave.

  23. Kattis says

    I love the clovers! They are very kawaii. The colur´s are great together but I don´t like the fashion of the late 19th, so I give the dress 6/10. But if someone give me that dress, of course I would wear it!

  24. ADORE. Pushes every maximalist button I have (that many? OK, maybe not ALL of them, some aren’t about dresses!) Love the cut, shape, style, love most women’s clothes that successfully adopt male historic styles anyway. Just love it. 10/10 🙂 HAPPY!!!

  25. I dress up for special occasions a work (usually a lepricon-can’t spell that word-for St Patty’s day) I so want that dress…exactly as it is! And next week all that St Patricks day fabric will be on sale…hmmmm!

    • Lepricon, I love the idea of a convention where everyone dresses up as Leprechauns, goes to talks by famous leprechauns, buys leprechaun memorabilia…and probably spends all their fools gold on Guiness!! heehee!

    • Wait, they make St Patrick’s Day fabric!?! How come I didn’t know this! Is that a crazy North American thing?

  26. Valerie says

    Really great to see this remarkable dress this morning, made me think I should wear something interesting today instead of my usual bland business suit… I love it all, except the shamrocks on the skirt- just a bit over the top for me. 8/10

  27. Katherine says

    I love the shape and color of the dress, but the large clovers on the skirt don’t thrill me. I’ll give it a 7 out of 10.

  28. Anna says

    The gold ruffles, the large shamrock print, the sleeves. UGH. 3/10, because it can always be worse.

  29. It reminds me of the costumes in the Wicked musical, which is not entirely bad, but not great either. I’ll go…5.5/10. Which is still failing.

  30. I love it all except something about the bodice… I’m not sure if it’s the ribbon-ness of it, or the fact that it looks a bit like armour. It just rubs me the wrong way. Anyway, that’s 9/10. The clover brocade is LOVELY!

  31. Rachel says

    In a word, NO!
    My goodness – I can’t believe how many of you love this dress. The only thing it has going for it is the cut. The clover print is too large, and lost in the folds of the train and the sleeves. The bodice is that strange moss green colour I have never liked. The doublet effect looks very odd with the open front. The gold of the blouse goes much better with the green, but makes the white look very insipid. Not for me!

  32. Julia says

    I think it’s very cool and unique, I would want to wear that dress to a party! I love the style, colours and details, though I know it is pretty theatrical!
    10/10, for uniqueness and overall awesomeness!

  33. Daniel says

    BRILLIANT. Timely, appropriate, whimsically quirky, and really rather wondrous. I’m gonna say 9/10 because it’s not 10/10 perfect but it’s still fab!

  34. Lisa says

    Since I was born on St. Patrick’s Day, I would say I love it. I would give it a 10 out of 10. I am also into that period.

  35. Nicole says

    I love the color green (matches my eyes and I have red hair!) and the lines on this gown. I think anything velvet is awesome and the shamrocks on the skirt are over the top in a so ugly I can’t resist loving them way so I’m in 10/10.

  36. The skirt is just plain AWESOME!!! I could do with out the rest though. Velvet bodice should really be toned down, the puffed sleeves are horrendous, and what on earth is that cream neck inset thingamajig? Actually, I think that with better sleeves, at a matching (i.e. white), not-so-high-collared inset, this could look great. Even with the odd bodice. I can’t get over the sleeves and the collar thingy, but the awesome skirt bumps the rating up a good bit. 5/10.

  37. Laura says

    I’ve seen this around the fashion blogs a bit and always assumed it was fancy dress. As fancy dress, I’ll give it a 7, and if not… well, I guess still a 7 because every day is Halloween mmm bop-bop. But I wouldn’t wear it myself to anything not fancy-dress, assuming fashion era differences aside.

    • I wondered about the fancy dress thing myself. It could be, but it is less outrageous or theatrical than most aesthetic influenced garments, so I’m willing to consider it just plain-old-ordinary clothes with flair.

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