20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1920s lame and lace

Last week Sophie of Hanover met with general approval, though a few of you thought her outfit was too much, and garish, and a number of you commented on the high shift, or that it was the same colour as her skin.  Actually, there have been a lot of comments about frocks being the same colour as skin in recent ‘Rate the Dresses’, and I think it’s an interesting illustration of the way standards and tastes change.  Historically, being the same shade as your white shift or white gown would have been considered a good thing (untanned skin indicating you didn’t have to work in the sun). Today, not so much.  Anyway, pasty skin or paste jewels or not, Sophie came in at 8.1 out of 10.  What a pretty princess!

This fortnight’s theme on the Historical Sew Fortnightly is ‘Lace & Lacings.’  One of my favourite kinds of lace is metal lace: it’s so unexpected, and such an interesting combination of the delicate aesthetic of lace with the durability of metal.  My wedding veil was a piece of antique 1910s metal lace.

This frock is an excellent example of the popularity of metal lace in the 1920s, and also references the vogue for Orientalism with motifs borrowed from Chinese textiles and art.

1920s gold lame evening dress via Stockholms Auktionsverk

1920s gold lame evening dress via Stockholms Auktionsverk

What do you think?  Do you like the plunging neckline, and the irregular hem?  Do the subtle colours balance the abundance of ornamentation?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. This I love. I consider it meant to lit by chandeliers or candelabras, so the glimmer would be subtle. The balance between plain and ornament is well done, and the width of the sash also seems to be nicely balanced.

  2. I really love this style, too. The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t figure out where the highest point of the bust would be in this dress.

    Anyhow, still a 10/10 for me.

  3. For me this dress get a 10 out of 10! There is so much to love about this dress I don’t know where to begin.

  4. Zach says

    Oh my goodness, I love it!!! I also really love metal lace. It’s so shiny! I really love the silvery-beige color of the dress, and I’ve always been a fan of the twenties. I just really love this entire dress. I can’t think of another thing to say about it. It’s just beautiful in every sense of the word!

    Ten out of ten!

  5. I love the bodice, and the sash, but I’m less sure about the skirt. There’s something a bit tablecloth-y about it, although I can’t work out why my brain doesn’t have the same problem with the bodice.


  6. Louisa says

    I share Black Tulip’s reservations about the potential tablecloth-y-ness of the skirt.. but I would give it a 9/10, because overall the effect is still delicious! This is probably my favorite rate the dress so far!

  7. Brenda says

    GORGEOUS! I love the metallic color, the intricacy of the lace, the silhouette, the low waist. However, the neckline seems just a BIT low (then again, that was the style of the time). Also, the lining at the bust only goes so high…ulp! Surely something was worn under it…

  8. Daniel says

    LOVE IT. I don’t even think it’s all that excessively ornamented, but I think if you’re going to ornament to the max, it can look absolutely gorgeous when done in all one colour or tone like this. Just looks so classy and shimmery and elegant. Really understated and classy. Easy 10/10.

  9. I love it. I would so wear it. Enough skin shows to be interesting, but not so much as to be tacky, and I like the combinations of satin and lace and metal finishes. 10 of 10.

  10. Angela Wicentowich says

    This dress is stunning! 9.5/10

  11. Caroline says

    10/10 Gorgeous, delicate, intricate, and elegant all at the same time. I adore it and I want it!

  12. Kim says

    Love it 10 out of 10. Classy and elegant, it would make you feel beautiful wearing it.

  13. Gauss says

    I love this! So beautiful but not overdone – I would even wear this today. 10 / 10

  14. I couldn’t wear it, I do not have a 1920’s figure. Still pretty.


  15. I looked at this one and showed the husband this picture and remarked “I would so wear that.” He agreed that I totally would. I don’t usually love 20’s styles; it was an interesting era of history and of fashion, but I rarely swoon over 20’s dresses. This I love, though! The metal lace would be so beautiful and shimmery at an evening garden party, and I love the asymmetry, and it would show off the wearer’s figure in a classy way. I also really like the way the ornamentation adds layers to the dress, it adds a lot of visual interest. 10/10!

  16. The plunging neckline is one feature of the dress I do not like – not so much because it is plunging, but because it somehow seems such a shape that the dress would not retain it on the wearer. I.e., it seems to me that the straps or the neckline would slip around.
    Other than that, I love it. Metallic lace: yes, very much so – I love grandma’s metallic lace creations, and this has the same feature I love about them: the shimmering quality.
    And the subtle scallops, the pattern of the lace, the sash all liven up the straight 20s silhoette.

  17. karenb says

    beautiful to look at on the black dressform. If it was pasty white then the dress wouldnt look half so good. It is too low for me to wear but the dress is just so lovely that it gets 10/10 anyway. love the sash.


  18. “Do you like the plunging neckline, and the irregular hem? Do the subtle colours balance the abundance of ornamentation?”
    Yes, yes, and yes!
    It’s textile filigree perfection – 10 out of 10, more if I could.

  19. Lynne says

    A daring dress! Very elegant and sleek. 9 out of 10.

  20. Beatrix says

    Love it!
    Probably wouldn’t work on my 50″ bust, but oh well!

  21. mydogphoebe says

    Ooh! If the Empire State Building was a dress, this is what it would look like. 10/10

  22. Tenshi says

    Oh, what a pretty, pretty dress, so elegant and delicate. 1920’s fashion is hit-or-miss for me, and I usually do not care much for the silhouette, but this is perfection.
    9/10, because I’m jealous of the dark-skinned lady who would look stunning in it, instead of looking like death warmed over twice, as I would do.

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