19th Century

Rate the Dress: 1860’s wrapper

Last week I posted a 1920s takes on 18th century dress that was a robe, that was a take on robes.  With the exception of two of you who found it whimsical, you were not impressed.  The consensus was that are good ways to do historicism, and good ways to do robe de styles, and that poor frock was neither, from the colours to the mash of details.  The only things you liked were the reticule, and (perhaps) the embellishment.  It rated a truly abysmal 2.4 out of 10.

This week I’m avoiding historicism, and looking at the other kind of robes: a wrapper, the pre-cursor to the modern bathrobe.  This wool wrapper from the 1860s is all modernism.  Well, 1860s modernism, borrowing elements from very avant garde Eastern textiles, using the latest prints, and the latest colours with its striking combination or orange, black, pink gold and distinctive quilted teal trim.

Wool paisley wrapper, c. 1860s

Wool paisley wrapper, c. 1860s

What do you think?  Cozy and cutting edge, with a nice nod to China in the trim and frog fastenings and classicism in the print of the fabric?  Or another mish-mash of colours and trims and inspiration?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

(And, once again this week I am throwing myself at your mercy as amazing internet sleuths.  Where does this image come from?  All I’ve been able to come up with is pinterest, which links to tumblr (and not even an individual tumblr site, just tumblr.com), and other searches only come up with spam sites that make me very grumpy indeed.  I would love to be able to provide a proper link to its original museum!)


  1. Brenda says

    Wow, for a bathrobe, it seems rather elaborate, but then again, that was the style of the times 😉
    I LOVE the green/teal trim. The print, not so much. I wish it wasn’t so “busy”. On the other hand, I haven’t seen too many dresses from the 1860s with so much Chinese influence, so it’s unique.


  2. Jenny Wren says

    On the whole, I really like it, especially the centre front. It loses points for the main fabric, which looks too much like curtains. 7/10.

  3. Kathryn says

    I declare this to be adorable! I can’t help but imagine the fun, peppy-yet-laidback personality of the lady who wore it. If you look closely, you can even see that it has patch pockets! I only wish there was some sort of contrast piping to better offset the teal quilted trim and patch pockets-a darker teal? Or a navy? Either way, I would love to have something similar in my own loafing-around wardrobe. 8/10

    • Kathryn says

      After reading others’ comments, I revise my opinion about contrast piping. The others are right, the stripes need to be cut so the dark ones are parallel to the quilting (and so the pattern is symmetrical, jeez!). That would do the trick, I think. My rating stands.

  4. For my own preferenes I tend to favor the Autumn colors in the seasonal scheme, so this makes me happy to think of wearing it. In addition, I love Persian/Turkish/Indian Oriental prints (which I find more reminiscent of this than Chinese), even if they have been used for home goods.

    I like the restrained design element of the darker frogs against the center panel, but I have to deduct a point or two for the unfortunate way in which the pattern stripe looks cattywampus against the center panel. I’m sure the pattern elements made it necessary, but I would have liked it if they could at least have pieced the black strip so that it paralleled the center panel all the way down.


  5. First thought – eek!
    Second thought – actually, it’s quite appealing in a strange sort of way
    Third thought – it would look SO much better if the stripes were symmetrical around the front teal section (yes, I am a pattern-matching obsessive, I just can’t help myself)

    Still 7.5/10, because it is very sweet

  6. At first I hated it… But after taking a closer look it actually grew on me a bit. I do like the colors, and the details don’t detract from the look. I also think it looks appropriate for its intended purpose. I suppose I am not in love with the overall shape of the robe (just a bit too puffy for me), and the stripe fabric makes me think of wallpaper, but all in all I like it.

    (And now I want to make a modern interpretation with the same color scheme, but maybe using teal lace instead of the quilting? I think it gets bonus points for being inspirational…)


  7. Emily says

    woodlandfarmsantiques.comLong-time lurker delurking (*waves a shy hello*) with a hopefully helpful link re: origin of the wrapper. Looks like it was maybe once for sale on a vintage clothes site? I have been unable to find it on said website, though.


    (the tumblr has a typo in the vintage clothes site URL, it’s actually http://www.woodlandfarmsantiques.com/)

    And my first rating! I love the colours and style of this wrapper, and like the way the plain band of teal down the middle helps soften the very busy print. Not so fond of quilting side-by-side with the print, but overall… 8/10!

    • That’s it! It’s from Woodland Farms. I knew I’d seen it before. Presumably it’s in a private collection now.

  8. Odd, but lovable in a quirky way. It’s not the type of dress I’d wear (that color green is harsh, for one thing) but in the abstract it’s interesting. I’ll give it a 6.

  9. holly says

    I’m totally “meh” on this one. I love the quilted (?) front panel and fastenings, and the sleeve trim. The fabric – I don’t love, especially I don’t love the fact that the stripes don’t match on the two sides. Sitting firmly in the middle, thats


  10. I love each little piece on its own, but I cannot like it as a whole (which is surprising, considering my love of wild patterns). 7/10

  11. I like it, I think it’s bold and fun, and the quilted bits have picked up the bravest colour in the print. I only wish the maker had been a little more picky about getting the stripes symmetrical down the front and in the bodice.


  12. For the 1860s, I think it’s great! I love that shade of green. I probably wouldn’t choose to wear it these days, though, or create a reproduction of it. And the closures, now that you mention it, are not quite to my taste. I give it 8.5 out of 10.


  13. Daniel says

    I can’t help wondering if the hoop underneath isn’t just a smidgeon too large for the wrapper. Though it does look amazing. I don’t love it though, I have to be honest. Not actually sure if I like it either. Gosh.

    No, I don’t. Just a bit too off kilter and too obnoxiously green for me, so…


    • Zach says

      I’m beginning to wonder if we have some sort of psychic connection, as this is the third time I’ve typed a comment without your response being there yet, and by the time I’ve finished typing and hit submit, I end up seeing your comment pop up randomly before mine. This is getting weird!

  14. Zach says

    I’m actually not a fan of the colors in the dress fabric, yet somehow it still manages to seem neat and kinda cool. It works. I don’t know why it works, but it does. The stripes drive me a bit crazy too. It looks like they meet in the middle fairly straight, but with the quilted stripe down the middle that widens as it reaches the hem right there, it looks askew. It’s also bunching in a funny way right below the waist.

    Every time I scroll back up the fabric just really urks me. Still I like it. What kind of mind controlling bug did they embed in this picture? Maybe it’s just my love for quirky robes and wrappers. Who knows?

    Eight out of ten.

  15. I like the quilted trim, but not the print. It’s too busy and the colours don’t look very nice together. I also don’t like the way the widening trim swallows up the brown stripe. Whoever made this should have cut the skirt more carefully.


    I really wish I hadn’t missed last weeks Rate The Dress. I tried 5 times to give it a 1/10 but the internet connection at the cottage wouldn’t let me.
    I am very glad to hear that no one was hurt in the earthquake.

  16. In contrast to some other voters, I like the base dress but dislike the quilting, it seems kind of … tacked on without really being integrated into the dress. There is the un-matching patterns thing also.


  17. I love the crazy combinations of colors and paisley. The frog closures are spectacular too. It would have been nice if the stripes were straight down the skirt, but it’s only a little distracting, not enough to make me dislike the overall garment. 8/10.

  18. The quilted area should have been straight, being wider at the bottom just looks wrong; also they didn’t do a good job on the pattern matching at the front; the stripes are different on each side which just looks sloppy. I’m glad they chevroned the side seams though. I think I like it in the style and fabric, just those details.

  19. Lynne says

    I love green, I love quilting, I love frogs, I love wool… and I really, really dislike this wrapper! The green is the wrong green for me – makes my teeth ache, just looking at it. Like some of the frightening wallpapers of the period. Napoleon could die from looking at this wrapper – taste the arsenic in the air!

    2 out of 10.

  20. It’s another of those dresses that look doll dress to me in proportion. Might be the hoop skirt underneath, as others mentioned. Might be the size of the frogs, or the unprofessionality of the pattern matching. Or all of them. I very much like the idea, but I do not like the execution a whole lot.

  21. Daniel says

    geocities.wsThis is off topic, I know – but Leimoni – I finally found that 1880s poppy fancy-dress I was talking about a while ago!! It’s from the Neil Vincent Collection, and according to one article, was made by Mrs Donovan of New York. Unfortunately the only photos I can find are all very small/unclear, but – what a dress!




  22. While I love the green, I feel like the print is overpowering and heavy, which drags down the wrapper’s score for me. The closures are interesting, though. I give it a 7/10.

  23. Belinda says

    I feel like it needs only three things to make it better:
    One, a library with a roaring fire.
    Two, a large glass of cognac.
    Three, better pattern matching, as has been stated.
    At first I didn’t notice the sloppy pattern matching because the print was so loud, but once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it. Pattern matching sins aside, I don’t mind the combo of quilting and pattern. I think without the quilting it would probably say ‘house-dress’ more than ‘wrapper’. Like someone’s 19th century version of trackies and ugg-boots.
    6/10 because pattern matching cannot be un-seen.

  24. Oh, that TEAL!!! If the robe were made entirely of that teal fabric with just the cuffs and skirt hem with that wild fabric (aka, the reverse of what it is), it’d get a 10 from me, hands down. With that crazy (misaligned in spots) pattern, it’s a bit loud and overmuch, though the colors do go well together; I’d give it a 7 of 10.

  25. First impression: whoah, in a bad way.
    Upon further inspection, I like the scalloped edges on the teal trim, but as a quilter, I’m kind of annoyed by the lack of straight lines alongside the scallops. That would have been really cool if they’d have lined up the teal scallops atop some contrasting burnt umber or black. Ah well. I’m sure the maker thought of it too afterward. I wonder if this was a home-sewn piece… the pattern alignment of the fabric is just too wonky all around. Hmm. I have no clues for you as to the origins of this garment, but my rating for this wrapper dress, thinking it’s a home-made item… hoping that it is…
    Could have been 7 if they’d have lined things up properly.

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