18th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Lady in White

Last week I posted a vibrant, exotic 1930s frock with a simple silhouette.  Some of you were a little unsure of the bolero, both in length and decoration, and karenb went against the trend and flat out didn’t like it, but it got so much love from everyone else that it managed an more-than-respectable 8.5 out of 10.

This week let’s tone things way down (colour wise – ornamentation wise things are going to get a little busier)  with a white themed ‘Rate the Dress’.

Perin-Salbreux’s ‘Lady in White’ is very white, from her powdered hair to her fashionably pale skin, through her pearl bracelets, white on white on white on white dress, and to the peep of white shoe.  Her dress is probably part fancy dress, part fantasy, meant to conjure up images of the ancient maidens who the 18th century public imagined to have dressed constantly in white while garlanding altars to love with roses.  The details of the outfit, though, are pure late 18th century: the shorter petticoat with deep ruffle, the puffed sleeves, the ‘poof’ trim, are all typical of the 1770s, though they aren’t always combined in one ensemble.

Portrait of a Lady in White, Holding a Crown of Roses in Her Right Hand, Her Left Arm Resting On an Altar to Love, 1776, by Lie Louis Perin-Salbreux (French, 1753-1817)

Portrait of a Lady in White, Holding a Crown of Roses in Her Right Hand, Her Left Arm Resting On an Altar to Love, 1776, by Lie Louis Perin-Salbreux (French, 1753-1817)

Regency frocks have a reputation for being ‘boring white dresses’, for their pale simplicity.  Do all the frills and furbelows to our unnamed ladies dress keep it from being equally boring, or are white on white frocks nearly always yawn-worthy?  Or are they even worse when they are white and frilly?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. 10/10. I love it. I love white and stripes, and this dress combines both beautifully. I would totally wear it or make it. It is a bit farther than I can reach at this point of my sewing skills, though!
    But it is going on the list of future projects!

  2. I really like this dress! I do think I’d nix the sash since it hides the shape of the torso. I don’t think white has to be boring and this dress definitely has enough details to keep it interesting.


  3. akropola.orgI love it!
    I love the sheer fabric with satin stripes, the pearls, the puffy sleeves. Even her hair, which looks like dinner rolls. The tiny poof trim on the sleeves is perfect, but the poofs around the bodice are perhaps a bit too big. The sash does get in the way a bit but I still think this dress is awesome.

    What is that fancy thing with hot coals in it?


    I wish I hadn’t missed last weeks dress, it reminds me so much of Mucha’s work.


    • fidelio says

      That’s a brazier on a bronze tripod. Probably a gilded bronze tripod, this being a French painting. It’s a portable heat source–you could heat a space with it, burn incense on the coals, or whatever else you needed portable red-hot coals for.

  4. Angela Wicentowich says

    Big fan of this one. Not usually a fan of white, but I love the multiple textures. Beautiful. 9/10

  5. It comes dangerously close to a wedding madness kind of white, but misses by just enough to be fabulous instead. I think it’s the stripes.


  6. Too many poufs and too much stripes for me! Besides, the particular translucent white we see here reminds me too much of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. A 5 at best.

  7. Daniel says

    I do love that satin-striped gauze material – is it always called Chambery gauze? – and I think when you go poofy and frilly all in one colour, its very effective. I do love the Havisham-ness of it, even though that wouldn’t have struck me originally.

    But I don’t really care for the exaggeratedly elongated bodice in this dress (it just feels a bit rigid and hard to be surrounded by all that ethereal puffy tulle – a shorter bodice might be less distracting) or the sash drape, so it can only be a 7/10.

  8. Normally I think white is boring. Normally I an not a fan of frilly. But here it is lovely! Oddly, when I pick it apart there are things I don’t like, but somehow as a whole I find it rather attractive. So bonus points for that?


  9. Lisa says

    I’m not a fan of frills but am loving the white on white stripes and relative simplicity of bodice. Like other commenters, I’d much rather see it without the sash and I’m afraid that the sleeves just don’t do it for me in their multiple poufiness… A solid 7/10 from this girl.

  10. I don’t think this would have worked in any color but white. Some of the puffs, especially along the top of the bodice, rather make it look as though she’d been frosted like a cake, but overall I really love it. 10/10

  11. Erin says

    I love it. I think the sash is actually one of my favorite parts. The assymetry that it and the skirt swag provide create a lovely sweeping line. Without it the dress would look too busy and predictable. With it, it is simplified and united

  12. I really like most of it, the sleeves aren’t too big but give some balance to the bottom of the outfit. I’m not so keen on the overskirt; that seems a little too big to me. 8/10

  13. holly says

    I like the clever use of the sheer/white striped fabric; horizontal stripes, draped across the body of the skirt and vertical stripes in the bottom layer. 8/10

  14. Lene H says

    Two words: Granny Curtains!

    This dress exactly resembles my dead granny’s living room curtains. EGAD! And the sash only enhances the baaad associations.


    • karenb says

      love your comment!
      made me laugh and now I can’t look at the dress without seeing curtains….

  15. AWw, the outfit makes me think of a confectioner’s dream cake topper. I love it, but it’s too monochromatic for my taste.


  16. I normally find white a one-way ticket to Dullsville, but it’s all about the sheer stripe, which is awesome! I’d agree with some others – get rid of the sash, dear, it’s not doing anything for you. Instead, I’d put some more interesting seaming on that bodice, like a zone front, perhaps. I give it 8/10, mainly because of that stunning sheer strip – seriously, where can we get fabric like that nowadays?!

  17. fidelio says

    As manny others here have noted, there are a lot of lovely parts to this outfit.

    Yet, somehow, there’s something about it all together that’s making my eyelid twitch a little tiny bit.

    4/10. For the bits that are lovely.

  18. This is a great example of white on white, and I love the use of texture. Nothing boring about this dress! 9/10.

  19. Zach says

    Lovely! I must say, my favorite part is probably the petticoat. It’s just so darn pretty! The sleeves run a close second. I also love the satin-striped fabric that was used. My only complaint would have to be the sash across the front, since I’m not completely in love with the way it looks on there. You win some and lose some, I suppose.

    Eight out of ten!

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