20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Callot Soeurs sheers in 1907

Last week the mantua in very large Spitalfields silk came very close to a perfect score (or at least as perfect as we’re likely to get with so many voters!).  But some of you thought the print was a little big, and some of you thought the sleeves were a little blocky, and some of you didn’t like it because it wasn’t your period.  (Hmmmm…..not sure how I feel about that last reason…) So it came in at a 9.1 out of 10.  Still quite impressive!

I’m not sure why I picked the following dress for this week’s ‘Rate the Dress’, except that I saw it an immediately said “Rate the Dress.  Next week.  That one.”

So this one it is:

Evening Dress, 1907, Callot Soeurs, Paris. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, via the Hillwood Estate Museums & Gardens

It’s sea green over nude.  It has layers of sheers and pintucks and embroidery and sashes and overskirts and trims and poofs.  It speaks to me, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is saying.

So what do you think?  Did I subconsciously pick it because it is controversial, stunning, hideous, intriguing, relevant to something I’ve been posting about, or what?  We’ll all find out when you comment and tell us your opinions on the sartorial merits of the frock!

As always, Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10.


  1. 10/10 I have always like the Callot Soeurs designs. This one is kind of art deco/medieval looking to me. My daughter is into bliaut’s right now and it kind of reminded me of that for some reason, even though it is much more ethereal. Maybe the colors? Must have been fun to wear.

  2. It looks like something a model for Mucha would wear. It reminds me of a moth. I love it.


  3. Why oh why do people put colorful sheers over nude fabric. It’s like they think “we can’t have pretty, exciting, bold colors! How do we make this fabric as dull and ugly as possible? I know, nude underskirt!” I generally like les soeurs’ 1920’s designs, but their art deco-iness feels a bit out of place on an Edwardian dress. Under normal circumstances, I would give this a 6/10, but it only gets a 2/10 for committing the unforgivable sin of sheers.

  4. Sea green over nude very definitely does not float my boat. I also think the layers and layers of embellishment are a bit much. And there’s a pigeon front. I’m not a fan of pigeon fronts. 5/10

  5. 6/10. I want to love it, but it commits the mistake of putting too many things on one dress. I like those individual things, but not all of them together. And the pigeon front is too pronounced for my liking; maybe it would look better on a person over proper undergarments?

  6. I like the overall style (except for the pointy-tipped sash ends that hang down the front, but even they have a certain charm).

    However, I’m not fond of sea green and nude with white and yellow accents as a color scheme. The style is lovely and elegant, but the colors scream “something’s been in the vegetable bin too long!” to me. Even assuming that there has been some fading and that the dress was less drab with new, I still can’t get vegetables out of my head with I look at it. A 7.

  7. I was there two weeks ago! They have it behind a rope in a small dressing room off her bedroom. Its stunning in person. 10/10.

  8. Zach says

    I feel like there’s something missing… Maybe it’s just the pigeon breast area. I do feel like if I saw a woman wearing this at a grand ball, glittering with diamonds, I would say, “What a beautiful gown!”
    I don’t mind the green chiffon over the nude underskirt; I think it’s very neat. The trim is also wonderful. I also love the embroidery and the pintucks (oh, how I love them, those evil, evil pintucks). I imagine a lady wearing the beautiful yellow and white plumes of a Greater Bird-of-Paradise in her hair with a lovely diamond hair pin. Therefore, I give it such:

    Nine out of Ten.

  9. It’s pretty, but there’s just so much going on with it that its a bit overwhelming all together. I’m not terribly fond of the sheer over the nude underskirt either. I don’t hate it, but I don’t think I would have bought it had I been in the market for an evening dress in 1907. 6 out of 10 for me.

  10. 9/10. It is the perfect “sea fantasy meets Egyptian-medieval inspired- aesthetic movement” mash up. And mashup is SO Edwardian, where more was more! So I love it because I really think it just sneaks in as having coherent elements, although one more thing could tip it over, and that is hard to do (minimalism is SO easy compared to maximalism!)
    Now all it needs is a big kick *ss Edwardian updo with nodding ostrich feathers and diamond clips to finish it off.
    It’s not a 10 because I am sure it could have been a little more perfect. Perhaps LEDs under the skirt…;-)

  11. Lovely piece! The only thing I’m not so keen on is the yellow on the brocade (?) sash because it seems a little too bright for the rest of the dress. Also, the weird points that the sash comes to are a little much. Still, it’s a gorgeous dress, and I love the toned-down sheer layers… so I’ll give it a final score of a solid 8.5/10. I’d wear it 🙂

  12. LindaMB says

    To my mind the problem with the dress is it is too choppy, there isn’t really a flow to it. You have a ‘band’ at the neck line, a break at the busta break at the waist a break at mid-thigh, and a break at the knees and then the break bisecting the skirt, and the banding on the bodice. There is no where for the eye to rest. And the colours are sort of , well just sort of…3/10 for effort

  13. OOOOOOOooooooooooo. I absolutely LOVE this. I personally like the colors of it. Everything’s so subdued and understated even though it has a lot going on. I picture a woman wise beyond her years wearing this gown. Great pick! 10/10

  14. Cornelia Moore says

    how odd, it looks like a view of the back to me…yet the skirt makes it obvious that that isn’t so.
    interesting take on medieval. right colors and style for it, but not for me (skin’s to tan/sallow, hair’s wrong color, too.)
    it’s one of those “nice to look at but I wouldn’t give it a home” items. I don’t like most pidgeon breasts, prefering laced…dang it’s so hot my brains are mush. the little ladies vests that lace up. front or back…
    so. score. hmmm…another look…I’d prefer Kelly to moss, and royal/primary colors to secondary or tertiary, but it’s not bad. hmm…8.5. love the artistic use of the lace, don’t dislike the color, don’t care for the pidgeon chest, like the soft, lightness of the fabric-great hot weather outfit…now what would make me think about that…hmmm…reached 102 today….

  15. 9/10.
    i adore this dress, it lost a point for the pidgeon boob, not a fan of anything uniboob (hence my issue with sports bras). But otherwise, I like the color combo and all the fussy detail. I wou;ld wear it with the most obnoxious black feather diamante clip in my hair, black gloves, garish necklace and earing set either diamond or jet beads.

  16. Claire Payne says

    I agree with Lynn and Stella on the pigeon front. Not the most flattering look. Otherwise I like most of the aspects of this dress, the muted colours acheived by the sheers, the use of the sheers and the shape of the skirt. Guessing it would be a disaster on my hour-glass figure however so I’ll rate it 7 out of 10. Very Downton Abbey I have to add.

  17. Natalie says

    I love the colors and for the most part thing the dress is very pretty! But I can’t get over the way the sash hangs down. Take the two ribbons with the yellow embroidery away and it would be a perfect score.


  18. Love the skirt, hate the bodice; it looks like she’s got a shelf to catch food on. 6/10

  19. Laurel Parker says

    I very much like it, but there is something I find amusing about it too. I love it’s nod to nature – the overlaying of sea gren over tan reflects that and so does the odd sense of it looking like a bird or a tree covered in lichen.

    What is amusing, is the face on the pigeon front. See the two eyes and the mouth? If you do, then you’ll begin to see the rest. The ears that go up and then come down in rams horns ( the sleeves) and the druidy garment. Like an odd little gremlin.

    I really love the color pallete, which is quite sophisticated. Tertiaries are where color stops plucking one or two chords and becomes music.

    • I was beginning to think I was the only one who saw the muppet with strategically placed eyes. If the dress lost the eyes and perhaps the nose bit I’d like it a lot. Color works for me…especiallly pre fade and being of fluffy build, the uniboob means no padding required for me. 9/10.

    • The Mad Purple Chicken says

      It looks more like the Batman logo to me.

  20. I like it. I like the sheer-over-nude thing, and the way it leaves all the trim and detail hanging in space with only the suggestion of an actual dress underneath it. Some commentators have suggested that we could take away this or that – the yellow bits or the pointy sash thing, but I think that taking anything away would make it less striking. 8.5/10.

  21. When I first saw it, I really liked it, but there is still something slightly off about it for me. Maybe it is the horizontal blue/yellow silky sash across the bust. Overall I still really like it though. Not entirely sure why.


  22. It’s trim-a-licious. I give the seamstress kudos for the trims plus they are not very over-powering. I like the color scheme however the bit of yellow is out of place on the gown.


  23. Hayley says

    My first thought was ‘Oh what a shame, it hasn’t been stored well and most of the skirt has rotted away’……..

    Bleurgh. Bleurgh bleurgh bleurgh. That nude sheer idea is just hideous! And the clash with the yellow accents is unforgivable.

    However I love the cut, and the seagreen is sensational. If the whole skirt had been in sea green it would be astoundingly beautiful.


  24. Linda says

    Green is not my colour, so the nude underskirt stops that colour from overpowering it. I think it’s lovely. If this was created way back when. How clever are those seamstresses. Elegant. beautiful

  25. The Mad Purple Chicken says

    I missed last weeks dress because I was away at a cottage, but it would have gotten a very high rating from me, those waist flower petal thingies are awesome.

    I mostly like this weeks dress but there is too much stuff cluttering it up, the fish tail down the front, the trim wrapped around the skirt, and that Batman logo. Ugh.
    On the other hand, the hem is AMAZING and so are the shoulders and sleeves. The tan underskirt is perhaps a little too tan but a few hours with a seam ripper could do wonders for this dress.


  26. I love everything except the pigeon breast. And oh my, that’s quite the pigeon breast. Other than that, I LOVE it. I love all the things people have said they hated, in this dress. But that pigeon breast is particularly bad enough to knock off 2 points instead of one. 8/10. It still makes me gasp.

  27. “It speaks to me, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is saying.”
    That’s exactly how I am feeling about this. In fact I have “kept as unread” this on my Google Reader to make sure I could have a good look.

    And I like it. A lot. I would probably even wear it, only to hate it after a couple of days. Therefore I say 7 out 10.

  28. It’s not a bad dress, but the only reaction I get is “meh.” It’s probably something to do with the bodice as I love the skirt and the colour combination is one of my favourites…



  29. Cheyene says

    Perhaps a bit biased considering this is my absolute favorite fashion period… but….


    This may be my favorite dress you’ve ever posted here.


    sorry that was a bit obnoxious BUT YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THIS DRESS! THIS DRESS! it’s BEAUTIFUL.

  30. SilkSmuggler says

    I think I love it. What I’m getting from reading all the comments is that on the right women, this dress would be stunning. I feel like its dwarfing the dress form, though. Like its too big for it. Maybe that’s just the pigeon front?

    9/10 because “It speaks to me, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is saying.”

  31. I absolutely love this and I don’t even know why, since it’s not colours I usually go for and it’s a bit fussy and I don’t do fussy, and I’ve never been a fan of nude under-layers. And yet I love it. I think it’s the graceful drape of the skirt and the way the fabric is soft enough that the pigeon front doesn’t look ridiculous and how the colours look like sand and sea foam.

    So I’m not quite sure why I love it, and yet it’s lovely. 10/10 from me.

    • The Mad Purple Chicken says

      Yes, but you must give a numerical sort of number.

  32. As it is today 2/10. Some of the blues/greens must have shifted. But it is way too busy for real elegance. At its best I would have rated it a 4/10.

  33. This makes me go “WTF?!”

    Therefore, 10/10!

    I would wear this in a heartbeat with a huge, feathery hat equally over-embellished. More is more!

  34. BeckaJo says

    I love it, 100%. 10/10. The color and trimming just feels perfect to me – exactly what a dress of that era should be. It reminds me of the dream dress that Emily Byrd Starr from L.M. Montgomery’s books wanted to get: green in some lights, blue in others, with the “classic” lines of the period. Gorgeous!

  35. Black Tulip says

    Well there’s a first time for everything, and I never thought I’d come across a Callot Soeurs dress that I didn’t love. I could just about cope with the colours, were it not for the yellow, and I really don’t like the long pointy bits at the front.


  36. Daniel says

    Mmm, I don’t tend to go for sheer colours over nude as a rule although this is certainly a stunner of a gown. I’m gonna say 9/10.

  37. Tenshi says

    It’s absolutely stunning. Sure, the batman logo on the chest is a bit weird, but that is a minor complaint. I’m in love with the colours, the shape, the details, everything. It’s not a simple dress, far from it, but I still don’t find it over-embellished, quite on the contrary. It is perfect as is.

  38. Geoffwah says

    It’s got good bones but has been fettered with “much-ness”. It’s been much-ed to death. It looks like a gorgeous gown masquerading as an abomination.

    I love the waistline, the sheer over nude, and the stripes at the bottom, maybe even the crazy sort of…sea-foam embroidery along the first hem, if it were scaled back a bit. But the heavy mantle on the bust and the insanity of the front sash “thing” with painfully lemon embroidery on it robs the garment of any class or dignity. New money, says I.


  39. Pamlin says

    I know I’m late to the party, but this is EVERYTHING I love about the period (and there’s a lot I don’t like about this period!) The details without it being overwhelmingly overdone, the sheers over nude in not-black! The clean lines and details tell a complete story, instead of some of the trim over trim over artistic trim chaos that can be seen sometimes.


  40. karen says

    Hmmm, like the color, but seems a bit busy. I give it a 8.75.

Comments are closed.