20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 18th century meets 1920s

Last week you found our unknown Spanish beauty’s stripey separates pleasant, but not inspiring, garnering the ensemble a rating of 7.3 out of 10, which was pretty much exactly what most of you rated it individually anyway.  The real interest from the Rate the Dress came in the discussions: how were her sleeves cut (very snuggly, with a curve!), was the black lace a particularly Spanish affectation, and most intriguingly, did she have a slight mustache, and if so, what did that mean about 18th century standards of beauty, that the artist had taken the care to paint it in, and our modern standards, that we noticed it as being particularly unusual?

This week’s Rate the Dress comes to you not because it particularly makes sense or inspires me, but just because I’m exhausted and super busy, and I drafted this post up a year and a bit ago, and it sort-of fits the ‘Robes and Robings’ theme.

The late teens and early 1920s saw a brief fad for 18th century inspired fashion, most notably the robe de style, supported by panniers.  Lucile’s version of the robe de style is replete with 18th century references: the square, open front bodice, the sleeve ruffles, even a reticule to match.  The soft pastels and lace patterns also evoke a rococo aesthetic, but the unfettered body is all 20th century.

I think we can all admit that the mannequin is NOT doing the dress justice, so you are just going to have to look beyond that, and imagine it on a real person.

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


    • Oh, the green thing on the mannequin’s wrist is a PURSE. Thanks, Lauren! I had no idea what it was (except I figured it was meant to match the wilting laurel-wreath-like collar).

  1. Why is it so uneven at the bottom hem?
    It’s a bit nicer when larger, but still ugh. The very 18th century style with the very 20s body looks quite awful… and so do the colours. 2/10 for the details.

  2. !!Eeeewwww!! Please tell me this was a masquerade costume. The green color looks like pea soup, and the collar looks like it should be on a clown. Even the purse is ugly. Definitely a 1.

  3. I want to like this dress, I really do, but I just can’t. Even if it were on a real person the dress just looks so sad and frumpy. It looks like she is wearing a wilted lettuce leaf around her neck. I will say that the sleeves are pretty though, and I think the gold fabric might look better in person than in the photo, so I will give it benefit of the doubt there. But even then this dress is still pretty sad.


  4. Really not a fan of the colors, and it looks so blocky with the ruffles just flung onto it! I give it a 2.

  5. Daniel says

    I want to like this much more than I actually do. Really do. But I’ve seen so many better robes de style, and even allowing for the bad mounting, it really isn’t appearing to advantage. I can’t quite imagine it looking much better on the “right figure” either.

    4/10. Because I love the fabrics, I like the batty reticule, I love the idea and the concept, but have to be honest – it doesn’t really work….

  6. Zach says

    I love the lace across the bottom and midsection of the dress, though I’m not crazy about the green satin with it. The embroidery is beautiful and adds a little extra to the otherwise plain satin. I don’t like the sleeves or the neck ruffle much at all, and I think it would look amazingly beautiful with those things removed, so I’m going to give it high points for being nice underneath the few “bad” things. I really like the reticule too, and I think the right person could really make this look great.

    Eight out of ten! (I hope I’m not the only high voter!)

  7. I like it. The fabric is pretty and I like the whimsical fusion of eras. The only part I don’t like is the clown collar. It doesn’t seem to go with the rest of the dress and it would be better without it. 8/10

  8. Lumpy, dumpy and bumpy.

    I understand the urge to appropriate some elements of design from previous eras, but this looks like the designer took too many without using the stiff understructure that gave the original its artistry.

    I doubt that wisdom of trying to recreate a clothing style from an era when an army of servant class was required to maintain it into a time when freedom of movement is desired.

    2/10, with regret

  9. ….Gah! This is pretty awful. I’m all for an attractive robe de style (and I’ve seen a few, though not too many), but this one does not cut it. The green part is just bad. And the neckline and ruffles… ewwww…. I give the whole thing a 1. Nobody should wear it.

    On the other hand, if I could rate only the reticule I’d give it a 10 for originality and fun design! 🙂


  10. I don’t like it. I don’t like the panniers, especially. Normally I am all for panniers, but not these ones. I don’t care for the asymmetry of the skirt, which looks accidental, or the ruff, which looks, well, also kind of accidental.

    If I sort of squint and imagine it straight-up-and-down, or with a slightly flared skirt, without the panniers or the neck ruffle, I do kind of like it. The neckline is pretty, and I like the fabrics well enough. The sleeves are pretty, too.


  11. Cheyene says


    Really, though. It’s awful. I can’t imagine it looking much better in it’s glory days and on the right person. The green is a color I do like, but the whole effect is just hideous. And that neck ruffle makes me irrationally angry.

  12. Dear God, it’s ghastly. As you said, it’s 1920s meets 18th century. But why the weird green stuff around the neck that looks like a wilting laurel wreath? And the combination of ruffly cuffs with long sleeves…. Ugh. A 2 (it’s worse than the dress that looked like it had reeds growing out of it).

  13. I’ve seen many elegant and pretty examples of the robe de style – but I can’t say this is one of them! My first impression was, “Ew!” Upon closer inspection, I do like the sleeves, and I think I’d like it a bit more in a different color combination and without that sad, sad neck lettuce-ruff! As is, 3/10 – and that’s cos I’m feeling generous!

  14. The 1920s and the 18th century are two of my favourite periods for clothing, but this combination of the two doesn’t work at all. 2/10.

  15. I swear, it looks like she has a Volkswagon hidden beneath her dress. I can’t see how even on the right figure this would look anything other than old lace curtains with a green satin shapeless vest thrown over them. And what is that growing out of her neck? Is that supposed to be a ruff or is it Kermit the Frog’s grandmother? It’s a bad mismatch between two otherwise fantastic periods. 1.5/10

  16. “Sweetheart, does this dress make my backside look large?”
    “My darling, I love you dearly, but that dress has only one thing to recommend it. It can be removed. ”

    1/10, only because I adore reticules.

  17. I usually love Lucile pretty unreservedly, but I can’t find anything to recommend this dress. 1/10 because it would make a good costume for the ugly nymph Platee in Rameau’s opera.

  18. I’m trying to see past the possible faded color, wilted and crushed fabric, poor mannequin option and possible problems with the panniers (if they were less droopy, would the hem straighten out?) But, even with all that mental editing it is ugly. I’d feel silly and ugly in that get up. 1/10

  19. fidelio says

    Like Dawn/Wanda, I am trying to look past all the things (including the lighting for this photograph) that could be making this look worse than it did, fresh from the dressmaker and ready for a night out on the town. I, too, am failing.

    3/10, because the gold fabric is kind of interesting.

  20. Oh no! I’m working myself up into making a 1920’s dress for an upcoming wedding, and this… this is not the direction I’ll be taking. I’m already sad about the lack of tailoring at the waist that usually coincides with the styles of the 1920’s, but this is just too much… Did anyone else check out Lady Duff Gordon’s loungewear – now that was snazzy! This… it’s just upsetting.

    2/10 the embroidery is kinda nice.

  21. Brenda says

    The interpretation of the 18th century is a bit too literal/overdone on this 1918 dress and makes it look more like a costume than a dress with 18th century influences. When I first saw the picture, I thought it was an actual dress from the 18th century. Also, the color combination is really bad. The ruffles on the neck clash with the lace on the sleeves. This goes against the characteristic simple silhouettes that I love about the 1910s.

    3/10 (I kept lowering the rating each time I looked at it!)

  22. Meh. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it, either. I think it’s mostly the color combination that kills it for me. If only the green part were a warm yellow, I could look for the good parts, but as is, my eyes just can’t stay focused. I think this dress causes optical ADD.


  23. holly says

    Oh dear! I so want to like it, but just cant. Is it the silhouette? The dreary colours? Somehow, I think up close bits of it are likely marvellous, but this photo spells SAD.


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