20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: ’50s stripes & draping

Last week’s late 18th century robe a la anglaise sparked lots of discussion on how original or altered the dress was.  Was it 18th century at all?  18th century with extensive later alterations?  18th century but just really badly displayed?  I suspect the last is mainly to blame.  Most of you liked the general aesthetic of the dress, whether it was really accurately 18th century or not, and it came in at a 7.7 out of 10.

When I had trouble picking a dress last week Claire put in a request for something from the mid-20th century.  I think this 1950s dress is rather striking.  You’d certainly make a sensation wearing it, but sometimes people are sensations for all the WRONG reasons.

Striped taffeta and black satin evening gown, Helena Barieri, 1950s, via Vintageous

Striped taffeta and black satin evening gown, Helena Barieri, 1950s, via Vintageous

Striped taffeta and black satin evening gown, Helena Barieri, 1950s, via Vintageous

Striped taffeta and black satin evening gown, Helena Barieri, 1950s, via Vintageous

What do you think?  Would the wearer of this dress be the last word in chic sophistication, or just a bit too gauche and showy?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. I rather like it although it looks like it would be at home on film in a colourful musical.

    btw. the poll…so hard to pick one. I like all of them equally. Anything but block plain colour.

  2. Elise says

    I adore it! Can you imagine how someone with a natural hip-wiggle could walk in this dress? Christina Hendrick’s character–yes! Imagine how a 50s Joan Holloway could show off a fabulous bracelet by putting her hand on *that* hip!


    • Claire Payne says

      Christina Hendricks would look stunning in this.

  3. I love when people use fabrics appropriately! I love the way the stripes wrap around and create such a small waistline. The colors are difficult, with the right skin tone and hair color it could be very striking, but it certainly is not a dress just anyone could wear.

    I give it an 8

  4. Laura says

    I mostly like it. I’m not a fan of strapless silhouettes without very constructed bustlines – I find them boring. And there seems to be so much potential to use the stripe on the fabric for interesting straps – maybe a one-strap or an asymmetric halter. The right jewelry would liven up the boring straight-across strapless look. Other than that, the draping is lovely, and I love the side pouf and the way the stripes are used. 8/10

  5. I really like this. I love the way the stripes all come together on the left, and form the chevrons on the right (Maria Anna for the twentieth century?).

    Obviously you can’t really tell the colour on a PC monitor, but I like that it’s not a bright yellow, which would be far too wasp-y, and that the dark stripe isn’t a solid colour.

    Another 8/10

  6. Simone says

    Ugh – hate the colours. Looks like a giant wasp!
    The design is actually fine, and I LOVE stripes, though it would look far better in a different colourway, like emerald green and black. Actually, I would love it in maroon and rust stripes, one of my favourite colour combos!
    I’ll give it a 6/10, because I can’t stand the yellow and black.

  7. I’m besotted! The stripes are used in a super creative way and the colour is all kinds of crazy awesome but would look stunning on a person with the right colouring. I rate this bad boy an 8/10.

  8. Sarah says

    I LOVE THIS DRESS!! I would certainly wear it or one that’s a reproduction of it…I’m going to give it a 9.5

  9. Daniel says

    First impression – “Ye-OW-zers!”

    Then I looked at it and started seeing all sorts of things I might criticise. However, I think this is a dress that needs to be on a proper figure to be properly appreciated, especially the skirt as it needs to sit on legs rather than falling into the void beneath the torso. I do like the concept very much. I like the idea of the stripes, and they are nicely chevroned on the skirt but OY, that awfully awkward spot where they meet at the side seam on the bodice…. unavoidable, so I won’t mark it down for that, and again, an arm in the way would hide it.

    The pouf is strange too – from the side, it looks really pouffy, from the front and back it looks a bit deflated.

    I’m going to have to think about this. It’s not a colour I go mad for, either. The right lady would really knock the eyeballs out of the park in this dress, so it’s tough – you can tell it’s the perfect dress for someone but in isolation, it’s not quite all that. It’s like when the reality of a costume doesn’t live up to the celluloid magic.

    Ooh. Gosh. I’ll say 6.5 out of 10.

  10. Lynne says

    10 out of 10. No question. Wow! Simple but very attractive style. Wonderful fabric, wonderful colour, and the way the stripes are used is just stunning. I love the way the stripes meet on the side of the skirt, and especially the way that overskirt ends in a point!

  11. 10! I feel like this dress could come off as super classy or trashy depending entirely upon the wearer. But either way it’d be a fabulous eye catcher 🙂 Love the color, draping, stripes, silhouette…I love it all. I would want to be a red head if I wore this!!

  12. I really like this! I am a bit torn on the colors – they do feel a bit like a traffic warning sign, but when I try to imagine the dress in any other colors it looses its impact. I love the effect of the stripes though. Hmmm….


  13. I love the shape! But I am not such a fan of the yellow and black stripes. It is tricking as you said, but I can’t help but think of that home brand “yellow and black” packaging.

    So I suppose I give it a 7?

  14. I like it. I don’t like the side bow, or whatever that thing is. I could probably forgive it though. 7/10

  15. Cornelia Moore says

    YAK to the color. looks like a Barbie doll dress, few of us are lucky enough to have that body type. love the cut, hate the color and pattern. LOUD is the word. it would be more elegant in solid or medium colors, with or without stripes, the fabric is fine, the color has to go.
    7.0 because the color is so yak.

  16. Claire Payne says

    Thank you Leimomi! 1950’s but not as I would expect it. My first thought was Marilyn Monroe as a queen bee. The colour isn’t great but I can appreciate the stripes (especially after seeing the effort you went into with your lovely skirt this week). I’m not sure about the pouf at the side. Perhaps this would have been better at the back? Otherwise, the shape and style are perfect for a figure like mine. I dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for a party last year in a copy of the infamous pink satin dress which is rather similar to this one and I felt so good in it that I didn’t want to return it to the costume hire. 9 out of ten (I missed the last point for the black and yellow).

    Perhaps a 1930’s dress next week? I need some inspiration for this year’s Christmas party with a gangsters and molls theme.

  17. Simply beautiful. If I tried to wear it, I’d look like 10 pounds of sausage in a five-pound casing. But in itself this dress is a work of art; it just requires the right woman to wear it. A 10.

  18. Interesting dress, even more interesting are the reactions it’s getting. Even those of us who aren’t into the color in a big way are still rating it fairly high and some of those who are ‘loving it’ aren’t giving it a 9.5-10. While this is closest to the last dress I ever would have worn due to color, it is still a stunner and an elegant concept. 9/10

  19. I love it – 10/10 for me. Would wear that in a heartbeat – even if I am too short. Maybe some stupendously high black spike heels would make it okay 😉

  20. karenb says

    I don’t like the pouffy bow when viewed from that side. looks odd.
    colour and style good on the right person.


  21. First thought. Caution tape at a crime scene. But, on the right strong personality with a vavoom figure and a desire to make sure everyone in the room knew she was there…It would work. Definately not for me but I could she its worth 5/10

  22. I like the dress but not on me. One would have to be tall and slim with hips on the small end of the scale — so that definately leaves me out BUT, if one looked like Grace Kelly, — it would be amazing. I like the use of the strip to give movement to the dress and to emphasize its structure. Very clever.

  23. I never thought that the combination of taffeta, satin and the 1950s could produce anything I’d find less than amazing, but I am looking at it right now!

    I give this a 6 out 10, and merely because of the “tail / drape” feature. Otherwise I can’t really like this at all.

    I do like how you always find “different” specimen for RtD! 🙂

  24. Hello, Marilyn! That dress looks exactly like something she would have worn. When I first saw it, I thought that it was some kind of hideous yellow color, but after staring at it a while, I think it’s lime green. Am I right? I blame looking at the picture on a computer. Anyway, I love the shape of it, except for the bottom. That weird shape where it gets really skinny at the ankles is not one of my favorites, but I can live with it, at least. I love the side-bow thing–it’s actually one of my favorite design elements on ’50s gowns. The stripes are okay, but I would have chosen a contrasting color that enhanced the green more than the yellow tinge in the lime green color.

    Nine out of Ten!

    I actually just read a book about Marilyn not too long ago. It was sad. Very sad… 🙁

  25. Loving the style and shape and use of the stripe motif – but the colour is very tricky. Black and white would have looked way classier, just not as jaw-dropping.
    I’m thinking Cyd Charisse could’ve pulled this off, though she probably wouldn’t have wanted to cover up her pins so much.
    It is so not a colour for blondes.
    I’m guessing this was made to turn heads either for stage or film – and that it would do very well, so I’m giving it a 7. Good choice!

  26. It is compelling. I can see this dress on Claire G with her auburn locks and lovely skin, and sassy attitude! It is a bit of a bombshell dress cliche, though. In red or another bright colour it would be too too terribly. In classic chartreuse and black, I like.

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