19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the dress: Tiers of rectangles in 1855

I’m always reluctant to post ‘Rate the Dress’ images which feature very well known people as I’m afraid that our pre-concieved attitudes towards historical notables sometimes colour our assessment of their clothes.  I’m not sure how much of that played into the rating of Marie Antoinette in hunting attire last week, because the most overwhelming response was the one I didn’t expect: total and utter boredom.  Sure, it rated a 7.3 out of 10, but most of you couldn’t even be bothered to rate the dress.  I do think I should start subtracting a point from any Rate the Dress that collects less than 25 votes, because 6.3 is probably a better reflection of total indifference!

Anyway, onwards, and upwards, hopefully to much more interesting frocks!

This dress has fascinated me ever since I first came across it, and I thought that the Historical Sew Fortnightly ‘Squares, Rectangles, & Triangles‘ challenge was the perfect opportunity to rate it.  For all its elaborateness, the tiers of ruffles in the skirt are just rectangles, and the stripes add an interesting linear dimension to the frock, which contrasts with the soft pastel colours in the most intriguing fashion.

Day dress, 1855, Centraal Museum

Day dress, 1855, Centraal Museum

So what do you think?  Icky pastel frilly?  A perfect balance of details and simplicity?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Too frilly for me… though it could be worse, I guess. The stripes are intriguing, but with the colours, the lase, the bows and the different pattern of the sheer sleeves, it really becomes too saccharine for my liking. 6/10

  2. fran says

    sorry, really do not like this! Reminds me of over fancy icecream desserts, all frills and confections and far too sweet. The underlying dress looks smart and elegant made fussy by the elaborate decoration and flounces. The colours are tonally very similar which makes it quite muted, but then there are the stripes.. I’d imagine this could work on a hot, bright day.
    My tastes are simpler so I will give this 5 out of ten.

    • Elise says

      Yes. In fact, I don’t care enough about it to care. I’m going to rate another dress–peace out!

  3. I rather like it. It’s not especially “frilly”, and for a flounced dress is rather restrained and pleasant. An 8.5 (it didn’t need the bows down the front of the bodice).

  4. Daniel says

    I actually rather like this too. It has a lightness, liveliness and bounciness that you don’t always get from silk 1850s flounced dresses of this type – they tend to look a bit dragged-down sometimes. I don’t like the yoghurt colour at all personally, (not being a yoghurt fan) but I do like the contrast between the high-sheen silk – I suspect it’s a white-and-pink shot silk, judging by the way the light plays on it – and the crisp graphic quality of the black and white stripes. I like the bows down the front of the bodice, though I’m not sold on the sleeve shape, which isn’t quite perfect. I have to give this a 8 out of 10. Oddly, I don’t usually go for anything more specific than .5 or .0 scoring, but I really want to rate this 7.75 out of 10 as it’s JUST too nice for a 7.5, but not QUITE a 8, but I know you don’t do such specifics, so I’ll round it up.

    I actually want to say 7.75 out of 10, but will round up.

  5. Eh. It’s rather odd with the pastel and all those lines going different directions. I wouldn’t choose to wear it, but I don’t absolutely despise it, so that makes 4/10.


  6. I feel like I should really not like this dress. I mean, pink, frills, bows… ick. And yet, I find this dress oddly appealing. Not in a drop dead gorgeous sort of way, but I could see someone wearing this dress and I would think they looked fairly nice sort of a way. I think the more subdued colors help. Surprised as I am to say it, I like it.


  7. Lynne says

    I do like the dress, but I don’t like the colour. Yoghurt colour – I think Daniel nailed it. One of those mixed berry shades.

    7.5 out of 10.

  8. Melanie says

    I think I could rock the promenade at Brighton in that, with parasol and ribbons fluttering. I like the muskiness of the pink and the grey/black stripes. Yes, it’s doing it for me – 7.5/10 (hey, for me that’s a good score).

  9. I don’t like the colour, too much simpering sweetness. I do love the net undersleeve and the shape of the bodice, but they’re not enough to bring its score up from the dungeon. 4/10

  10. Like the stripes and cut of skirt, dislike the bows and colours.


  11. Surprised by how many negative comments there are here. I really like this one!. Thinking about it, I guess the combination of pastels, stripes, lace and bows could be over the top but I think the pastels balance out the stripes and there seems to be an unusual amount of restraint to the lace and bows! 8/10

  12. I really like it. Nice proportions, nice example of the era’s aethetics. I like the colour and I think the stripes save it from being too sweet – it heads off into smart instead. I like the simplicity of those three flounces that are surprisingly widely spaced.
    Gosh it;s in awesome condition for its age, not all creased and flat and faded like so many others.
    I give it 9, because I reserve 10’s for dresses that make me squeal when I see them and this one just made me smile!

  13. Lene H says

    I absolutely HATE the bottom half of this dress. The flounces don’t overlap enough, it looks sloppy and as if the slightest movement will reveal the supporting fabric.

    The rest i pre-teen pink indifference.


  14. Zach says

    Okay, I’ve very unhappy. I just wrote my usual long response and didn’t think to check the presence of my name and e-mail in the space above (since it’s usually always there), and now it’s gone! I HATE IT WHEN IT DOES THAT!!!! As you can guess, I’ve had that issue before.

    Anyway, the gist of it was that it could use an extra ruffle on the skirt, with the others moved down so they overlap, I like the sleeves (under and over) and the jacket-like shape, but I think the bodice looks like it’s missing something, though that may just be the limp bows that need fluffing.

    I gave it an eight out of ten.

  15. It’s a bit cluttered up, this style of sleeve looks better with less trim. I don’t hate the colours, but I don’t like them much either. It would look much better if the bodice wasn’t attached in such an awkward looking way, or if the bows were removed, although maybe they just look bad because they are crushed and wrinkled.

    I would give this a lower mark, but it gets extra points for being an 1850’s dress with no fringe. So, 8/10

  16. I love the pink with the grey stripes. Overall, I think it gives off a sweet and slightly motherly vibe (probably a thought more influenced in my mind by too many movies rather than anything based in historical accuracy) It seems like the kind of dress someone would remember their mom as having worn when they were a small child and hadn’t yet figured out she wasn’t perfect. For aspirational visions of saintly old-fashioned mothering, 9/10.

  17. Meh. It’s the color–it’s just too washed out. Plus I’m not a huge fan of frills.

  18. I like it. I wonder what its original color was like. It looks faded to me. I give it an 8

  19. This is usually an era that doesn’t appeal to me, but I like this dress. The pink and grey color scheme is elegant, and although there’s a lot going on with all those bows and tiers and ruffles I don’t think it looks too overdone. 7/10.

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