Miscellenia, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Worth IV does Zig-zags

Last week Fidelo summed up your reaction to the purple, orange and green 1870s frock perfectly: “This  should not work. It really should not work at all. The fact that it does is genius.”  And because it was genius, you gave it a rating of 9.3  out of 10, which is pretty much as close as we’re ever going to get to perfect!

This week, I’m presenting a very different dress from a very different era, but I feel it has some of the same elements that made last week’s dress so successful: unusual choice of colour or pattern, clever construction, a balance of structure and femininity, and just a wee bit of cheek.

Evening dress, silk, House of Worth, Roger Worth, ca. 1938, Metropolitan Museum of Art

This dress is also a fun one to present, because it’s by Roger Worth, the great-grandson of CF Worth, and one of the last designers of the House of Worth (the last was his brother Maurice).  You haven’t much cared for the second and third generations of Worths, but what about the fourth?  Did Roger manage to return to his great-grandfather’s greatness?

On a side note, one has to wonder about the Worth family.  They are the world’s greatest couturiers, handing down the family tradition from the stately Charles Frederick to the clever Gaston and artistic Jean-Phillipe, followed by the romantic Jean-Charles and the enterprising Jacques, and what does Jacques choose to name his heirs, who must carry on the glamorous tradition of fashion?  Roger and Maurice.  No wonder the House of Worth shut!

Right, so Roger might not be the most evocative name, but how do his fashions fare?  Does his zig-zagged extravaganza dazzle you?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10 (whole or .5 ratings only, I’ll ignore any more specific fractions)


  1. I’m nowhere near as charmed by this as by the previous one.

    For me the graceful curvilinear design of the dress is fighting the highly angular and large-scale fabric design, and I suspect if I were to look at it for any length of time, a headache would result.

    I’d rate it at 6.5 out of 10.

  2. This looks like someone stole a roll of wrapping paper from a candy factory and fashioned a dress with just a few seams and hardly any cutting.

    Candy-wrap origami and absolutely glorious at that. I just want to touch it and then wear it and then I am sure I will meet my Prince Charming even if I am wearing this in my suburb of South Manchester.
    It’s a 9 from me.

  3. Laura says

    This is deco to death. I’m not the biggest deco fan (yes, I know again, just stone me now), and usually the more it screams deco the more I’m rather bored. This, however, is doing something for me. I don’t exactly look at it and say “ooh, I like it”, but it’s doing something. The fan-front-esque bodice and little puffy sleeves are somehow actually working with the wildly angular zig-zags. The zig-zags waistline is FANTASTIC.

    I’m having a similar reaction to that I had with the purple and brown plaid 1840s number from a while back which I found horribly ugly yet so very clever. This one has that cleverness without me being sold on the print, but it’s tipping out more on the cleverness winning. I don’t like the print, but it couldn’t be as clever in a different print. (I would still rather like to make something with that waistline, front, and neckline but in a print I preferred.) 7/10 for overall effect for me, but 9.5/10 for cleverness.

  4. Daniel says

    Would you believe me if I said I’d been thinking this should be a Rate the Dress after looking at it only last week? It’s a very strange dress. There are elements and concepts of it I genuinely adore, and there are other elements that I’m not convinced actually work – and some of those elements are one and the same!! Real “I dislike that, I love that, I dislike it, I love it, I dislike it, I love it” reaction. If you’ll pardon the Spice Girls reference – do I really wanna zig-a-zag-ahhh – or is it more zig-a-zag-aaargh?

    The fabric he chose is rather fascinating. I’ve been trying to work it out. Is it gunmetal grey taffeta hand-painted with white and red zig-zags? Is it an ikat weave? Are the red threads shattering before the rest of the dress or is it meant to look like that? Whatever it is, it is a fascinating fabric – it looks artisan, rather than machine-made perfection/flawlessness. If you go to the website and zoom in really closely, you can see it’s actually an ikat weave, but at the same time there is a very painterly quality to it. I suspect there is some silk shatter going on as well. But yes, the way the red is either bleeding out into the white, or apparently disappearing altogether, is very random and disquieting. All in all, an incredibly interesting aesthetic, like the dress equivalent of distressed painted furniture.

    I love the shape of the dress, with the potential of the skirt to sweep and swirl around the wearer, and actually, that extremely rounded, round-skirted, puff-sleeved, curvy, sweet-hearty cut is practically perfect for the starkly geometric pattern – it’s a great contrast that works rather well, and lets the fabric do a lot of the talking. And how wonderfully subtle is the perfect symmetry on the bodice? Great Great Grandpapa would be proud of that at least.

    I have to say that I’ve talked myself into loving this dress, and now I’ve looked at it in so much detail I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it apart from the odd bleeds of red (actually a rather luscious raspberry pink) in the white stripes, etc – and actually, the fruity pinky-red, the soft cream and the muted, sort of frosted-blackberry grey give it a certain subtlety that stark black and white and red wouldn’t have. And the symmetry of that bodice! What did I not like about it? I clean forget. But just in case I remember, I can’t give a 10 so I’ll say…

    9 out of 10!!

    Speaking of unromantic names – you can see why Germaine Krebs chose to be known as Alix Barton or Madame Gres.

    • Daniel says

      Mind you, I kind of like “Roger Worth”. It has a nicely rounded gravitas about it, the name and surname mirroring quite nicely, with just an element of a cheeky wink in it. Like the bodice of this dress, there is a pleasing symmetry.

      Not sure there’s any way to redeem Maurice though.

      • “Some people call me Mau-reece,
        ‘Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.”

        Yeah, I have an earworm, and now you can share it.

    • I had a zoom in too and I think it was hand painted and the ‘static’ on the edge of the stripes is dye bleed. I agree, it is WAY cooler than if it were machine printed or woven!

  5. I hate it. It looks like it wants to be symmetric, yet it is off just enough to throw my brain into a fit. At first glance I thought, “Well, it’s interesting…” But no. The more I look the more I dislike it. The sleeves are driving me nuts. I don’t even like the fabric – it might be silk, but it sort of just looks like plastic in the photo. Like a shower curtain.


  6. I think this one might work better in person. It’s probably just a trick of the photography, but the fabric looks like one of those plastic throw-away tablecloths people use for birthday parties – sort of fake and shiny. I do really like the lines of the dress, and the sleeves are gorgeous! But is the hem supposed to be shorter in front? It looks like he made a mistake in cutting that front panel. I do like the very curvy, feminine lines contrasted with a the more geometric print. I’d wear this if I got the chance, but I’m not wild over it. 7/10.

  7. Ouch! Really not a fan of this one. I don’t like the way the zig-zags work when they’re pleated together, and I actively hate the waist transition. Beautiful shape, if only the pattern wasn’t there.


    p.s. Last week’s dress got “…a rating of out of 10”: how much was that?

  8. This gown is intriguing,and has a good silhouette, but the bold pattern would not work for many people; I myself would not choose to wear it.

    That being said, it’s not a horror at all; merely an unconventional design choice, and attractive in its way. I’d give it an 8 of 10.

  9. I’ll add that I’d like it rather better if it had been sleeveless; those puffy sleeves clash with the modernistic boldness of the design.

  10. Whoa, that’s a lot of zig-zag! I like it though, and I would totally wear it. It’s the perfect dress for a Christmas party; it’s fun and out there and it looks so comfortable. 10/10

  11. Yikes… What is that fabric? It looks like that plastic-leather stuff. In fact, it looks like plastic-leather that someone painted: look at the bottom right side of the skirt–it looks like paint is wearing off! I also hate the colors together; maybe on a quilt with patterned fabrics in those colors would work, but not on that thing. The bodice almost looks like a throw back to the late Victorians with the way it’s gathered. If my wife (granted I had one) tried to wear that out of the house, I think I would worry at her sanity!

    One out of Ten. Finally, I’m not so agreeable!

  12. Sandra says

    I love this dress! it is defintely a 10/10 for me. perfect for a party and just strolling along the waterfront ona summers day.

  13. I don’t have much of an opinion on this one. I love the late 1930s aesthetic, but like Catherine said, most people wouldn’t like the pattern. So I don’t want to rate it.

    Why I commented: What was the final rating on last week’s dress? It’s left out of this post!

  14. Hate it, the fabric looks like plastic, it’s not symmetrical enough to look right and it’s not sufficiently assymetrical to look like it was deliberate. 1/10

    • Elise says

      Yes. Perfect. I’ll be more generous, with a 4, but I just can’t take it. Yucky. Yucky. Asymmetrical and not classy.

  15. I like the top, but don’t like the bottom. Or maybe I like the bottom and don’t like the top. Cyranetta summed it up – “the graceful curvilinear design of the dress is fighting the highly angular and large-scale fabric design.” The top is gracefully curvilinear and the bottom is very angular and large-scale.
    5,5/10, because it’s such a split job. It does have the potential of looking just right on just the right person; but where is the right person? I imagine a very sleek short dark hairstyle with it, which I’m not sure was the case in 1938.

    But I think I’d love this dress in a similar but less angular and slightly less large-scale print in yellow, red and baby blue on white. (That’s what Josef ÄŒapek’s illustrations to his “Doggie and Pussycat” will do for you.) Or maybe just in a plain (but rich) colour: the nice if simple lines of the dress would be brought out by that.

  16. I, um, er. I’m fascinated by the implications of the little bit of raised hem at the front. Was that supposed to be on the floor length, making the rest of the skirt train and drag a bit, somewhat altering the conical silhouette of it and adding yet another level of complexity to whatever it is the pattern is trying to do, or was it just a convenience for the wearer, so she could go up stairs while holding a champaign glass in one hand and a canape in the other? The way the waist seam deals with the print is also pretty awesome.

    I’m going to give it a 5, as between the puffball sleeves and the breakdown of the symmetry down the front of the bodice, I don’t much like it from the waist up.

    • Elise says

      The person who makes me a dress in which I may ascend a stair with a flourishing train while holding a champagne glass and canape may justify leaving my husband.

        • Elise says

          No worries about the spelling–just have everyone drink more bubbly and no one else will care!

  17. Love the dress, but hate the fabric! If I can manage to ignore the crazy zig zags, it looks like a perfect late 30s gown, with a couple of questionable bits (what is going on with the length? Is it just the way it’s been displayed? Or is the front really a couple of inches shorter than the rest). But that fabric is enough to trigger a migraine, and that’s never my favourite way to spend a party. So I think I’m giving it a 6.

  18. I would rate this an 8 out of 10.

    I like the patterns on the dress, but I am not a fan of the bust and waist area. It looks like it was made big, put on someone small and someone tried to attempt to sew it in a wierd way.

  19. Angela Wicentowich says

    I’m usually a fan of all things House of Worth, but I don’t find this dress all that pleasing. I love the skirt of this dress, but find from the hips up, it’s just not that lovely.

    My score: 5/10

  20. I kind of like it and I kind of don’t. I can’t put my finger on the reasons I feel either way. It gets a solid “meh” from me. The more I look at it, the less I like it. 4/10

  21. Like graffiti in a train tunnel. I don’t think this dress adds anything positive to the world of fashion. The zig-zags could have been used in a chevron pattern to better advantage, but no, Roger is going all avant garde here, and not in a good way.
    Maybe with some more serious boobage the bodice would sit better, but it just looks like he couldn’t be bothered putting darts in it or shaping the waist – just a stick in a bit of gathering, and whoops that raised the hem a bit! oh well, better to walk upstairs in.
    Its just, bad. I’ll give it 2.5, but I’m not sure what for – basically beacuse I’m sure there’s something worse out there…

  22. I love this dress. I love how the circle skirt splinters the geometry of the fabric, the colours together, the lines, the whole thing.
    My only concern is that anyone wearing it would be more worn BY it. It would take a LOT of presence to compete with it and people would tend to recall the dress not the woman.
    Hence, an 8

  23. Elizabeth says

    I love the fabric colour and pattern, and the puffed sleeves are all right, but what is going on with that weird pulling in the centre? And why is the front hem higher than the rest? I can’t see that being flattering on anyone. 4/10

  24. Daniel says

    Actually, I REALLY love the slightly raised hemline in front, after noting so many comments on it. I think it’s deliberate – and it’s actually rather genius, because in movement, it would allow air to circulate under the skirt, creating splendid billows and wafts of taffeta, a flourish of hem, and an optical interplay of the pattern, without compelling the wearer to lift her skirts. We aren’t seeing it in motion, after all, and I do think this is a dress designed for waltzing and wafting. It just feels absolutely right to me that the hem should rise slightly in front, whereas if it were totally level all around – I think it’d actually look much less appealing. There’s a lot of movement in what’s actually a very simple cut.

  25. H. Monaghan says

    This dress is interesting. There are a lot of really neat features, like the waistline, but there is quite a bit of oddness as well, like the overwhelming pattern-ness of the skirt. Though it would go against the styles of the time this dress would look better with a shorter, maybe knee length skirt, this would cut down on the overwhelming wallpaper effect of the skirt. 8/10, because it’s interesting, and gives some neat ideas.

  26. karenb says

    Too much zig-zag for me.
    Don’t like this sort of pattern in anything such as wallpaper, curtains, rugs etc.

  27. I would not wear this. The black print sort frames the “girls” and says look at me. And the print sorta smiles. I have enough goin’ on at the girl area and don’t need more. The print is just to loud and to close to Halloween colors. 1/10 simply because I’d like the name on the label.

  28. Sue H says

    This dress is amazing on several levels and was likely fun to wear, but I don’t enjoy looking at it, not even to scrutinize the details, so 4/10

  29. Cornelia Moore says

    a lot of these are no longer coming through, I track some of them through other, later ones, but many just never show up at all. not sure if that’s FB’s falt or this website.
    that said, I hate the fabric of this dress, it gives me a headache to look at it. but i adore the cut. it’s absolutely divine, and i’d want several dresses in that cut. and you have to admit, they got the fabric to line up perfectly. my OCD approves! it’s a pity I find the lines and color mix so jarring. I give it a 7.9, because i love the cut so much but hate the fabric so much.

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