20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: ’20s geometry & lace

Last week the initial reactions to Princess Wilhelmina’s green and pink brunswick were so positive that I thought for a while that we might set a new rating record for an 18th century dress.  And then the naysayers arrived and compared it to duvets and watermelons.  Personally, I think looking like a watermelon can only improve anything, but the variety of tastes is what make the design world such a wonderful thing!  So, with a few less-than-enthusiasts about green and pink and watermelons and hoods and growing things, Wilhemina only came in at 8.6 out of 10, which is still very good!

Since I’m on a ’20s kick, this week’s Rate the Dress is a green ’20s number.  You may even recognise it from my ‘Green’ inspiration post.

Chiffon & lace dress, French, c.1923, from the Vintage Textile archives

Chiffon & lace dress, French, c.1923, from the Vintage Textile archives

I think this dress is interesting because ’20s frocks are usually geometric, or lacy, not both together.  This frock combines the two, and uses the striking latticework applique to emphasise the lack of body shaping fashionable in the mid-20s.

What do you think?  Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. Yes, it is interesting, but I’m not particularly charmed. The geometric element looks like she tried playing “Red Rover” with a fence, and I’ve never liked the look of sheer bodice over strapless. The color is lovely, and the lace motif looks to be high-quality.


  2. Brenda says

    Gorgeous. Love the combination of the beige lace and the green. I’m a bit conflicted about the latticework. It seems so out of place with the rest of the dress but if you stare at it long enough, adds a modern touch to the dress.


  3. bandykullan says

    First off I’m not a big fan of 20’s fashion, I’m a total lover of feminine curves. This dress doesn’t change my mind. To me it looks like a nice green lace dress that someone threw a fishing net over. Remove the lattice work and put a belt on it and I might give it a higher rating. I do love the lace at the hem, so that gives it an extra point, but I still can’t give it more than 4/10.

  4. It looks like the latticing was just tacked on after the dress was already finished… If it had been left without the latticing it would have been gorgeous. Not my favorite 20’s gown.


  5. Emily says

    I really like the colours and general style: the lacework is very pretty atop that muted green. But I find the latticework jarring. It makes me think of a fence. And maybe it’s only the way it’s hanging on the mannequin, but it looks as if the latticework is dragging the fabric beneath out of shape?


  6. The lattice work looks like an after thought. It also looks like it ruins the drape of the lace. The lace and color of the dress itself is gorgeous though. Though the 20s aren’t usually my favorite era, I would have given it quite a high score without the lattice embellishments. I think they really ruin the look of the dress.


  7. I love this dress. I have a real love/hate thing going with 20’s fashion. I love the illustrations of fashion from then but hate the way the dresses look on actual women. I have to go to a 20’s themed holiday party and think this is the dress I’ll be basing mine on. I’d give it a 9 out of 10. I adore your blog by the way.

  8. Eee…my first reaction was totally negative. Then I saw the lace and the lovely effect of the net over the green underlayer. But that latticework is just…buh. I looks like she’s wearing a fence. It’s not as horrible now as it was at first glance, but the latticework looks like a bad afterthought, and doesn’t even look that well applied.

    Lovely color, lovely lace, but that latticework negates all of the good.


  9. Karen in Michigan says

    Well, I guess the wearer can always play tic-tac-toe if she gets bored. I would like it a lot more without the grid. I think the color of the grid is what’s throwing it off for me. 5/10.

  10. I have to agree with those who say to remove the lattice. Not the most attractive thing in the world. Yeah, it’s interesting… in not a good way. 3/10.

  11. I like the colors, and the lace overlay is pretty and doesn’t (to my surprise) particularly clash with the green of the underdress. But I don’t care for the latticework on the waist area–it looks out of place. 7.5 again.

  12. I can’t with the lattice. It does odd things to the flow of the top fabric so I’m giving it a three.

  13. I love the green and the lace but not the lattice work at all! It doesn’t add anything to the dress. I give it a 5

  14. holly says

    well, I love the sheer dress over the green; the lace is spectacular. I also love the green lattice detailing. Perhaps they compete a bit, but I think the dress with one OR the other would be less interesting.

  15. Lynne says

    I love the lace overdress and the green, but the lattice just seems too heavy. I don’t mind the ‘modern’ lines over the more traditional lace overdress, but the appliqued lines (same silk as the under-dress?) just seem too clumsy.

    6 out of 10.

  16. Heaven! I like the modernist touch of the lattice work, especially the way in which it “climbs” at the sides with the green ribbon binding the arm openings of the sheer net. Okay the eye does expect some visual balance around the hemline, but who’s to say that it’s necessary simply because it’s expected? 9.5/10.

  17. 9.5 for me as it is Green… my favourite colour and I Love the trim at the neck and hem.

  18. Susan says

    Maybe it’s because I am in Central Kentucky, but that lattice reminds me of the four-barred fences around the thoroughbred horse farms nearby (except it’s not black or white). While the 1920s look was rather shapeless, the fencing seems to add visual width around the middle – sort of barrel-style. Not a pretty look.

    But: the dress’s other outstanding qualities redeem it: the luscious color! The sumptuous lace! The delicate translucence! The floaty look!

    So – points off for the lattice-fence-barrel, points on for everything else. Make it 8.5.

  19. Well, love the overlay and lace– my first thought was that it looked as if the mannequin (sp?) was wearing a cage, especially the armpit area looked too sharp. Then I tried to visualize it with a more robust fleshtone than the mannequin has and then I thought that the latticework might look less incongruous and more racy. Maybe almost like older, boned undergarments brought to the outside and deconstructed. But maybe that’s just me. I like that it brought that to mind. Irony in a dress?

  20. The lace is beautiful, the color is lovely, the lattice work ruins the dress. A rating of 7.0.

  21. I don’t really like this time period, but this dress is impressive.
    The second from the bottom cross piece of the lattice work is most likely where the chiffon overlay was joined. I think I see the material brought into the waist just slightly at this point. The up and down bits of the lattice work would help the chiffon not tear while being worn – really ingenious.
    The lace is yellower on the top than the bottom, so I would think this lace was white when it was new. The combination of this green and white is very pretty.

    Rating 10/10

  22. I love the lace; not a fan of 20’s straightness so that’s weighing against it. Unfortunately any redeeming characteristics are destroyed by the ill-placed lattice work that means that the overdress doesn’t sit attractively; looks like it was a last minute addition sewn on by someone who wasn’t an expert seamstress.
    3/10 and it only got that cos of the lace

  23. I look at it putting any shoulds or coulds aside, and I find that I love it. I love how it embodies so much of what is going on with 20’s fashion. I really like the unexpected combination of lattice and lace. I like that the lattice brings the green forward. I like that the middle lateral latice draws the waist in ever so slightly.
    It’s not a jaw dropping example of 20’s fashion, and I am not a fan of the era, but taking it in context, I like it a lot.

  24. Jenny Wren says

    Why is the lattice so bulgy? I don’t know, if someone turned up to a party wearing that, I wouldn’t avoid them like they’ve got snot on their face, but wouldn’t think they had great taste, either. 5/10.

  25. Daniel says

    Not looked at anyone else’s comments, yet, so…

    No. The lace is beautiful, the green is lovely, velvet ribbon is yummy, but why whack a heavy, hard right-angled square mesh on top of delicate lace? It doesn’t really work. The starkness kind of visually clashes with the delicacy of the lace pattern, and looks arbitrary. It doesn’t feel right in any way. It’s like someone took a block marker pen and just scratched a noughts and crosses grid on top of a design for a simple, pretty, understated lace chemise, and then the dressmaker went away and took it literally. Just can’t help thinking this lace deserved a simple hip draped belt or something to let its loveliness be appreciated better without visual interference.

    4/10, because the lace is so beautiful, and the colours are lovely, but even without the green ribbon mesh, it’s quite plain and simple, and would be a 7/10 without the ribbon just for being tasteful and classy. The ribbon stuff knocks it down three whole points.

    • Daniel says

      Plus, don’t you think it kind of looks like the dress (and by implication the body beneath) is bulging out slightly through the square holes in the mesh? Not the loveliest effect.

  26. I’m distracted by the irregularity of the lacy dots in the geometric pattern.
    And the geometric pattern makes it painfully obvious that either it’s not ironed enough, does not quite fit the manequin, or something – it’s irregular, too.
    And I feel the green of that may be a bit too dark.

    Buuut… I love the shade of green as it looks on my monitor!

  27. I would like it if it wasn’t for the applique. It seems out of place and almost an afterthought. 7/10

  28. UGH to the Lattice. Otherwise, this would be another dress I would be very proud to wear. I love this shade of green (my bridesmaids wore dresses in this shade) and the lace overlay is scrumptious.

  29. …I…..

    ……I don’t know. I just don’t know. I really like the lattice pattern, but the fabric is slightly gathered underneath, and it just doesn’t look right. The bottom of the lattice is also too flat. They should have extended every other one or something of that nature. I somewhat like the lace, but only slightly. It isn’t my favorite. The color of the green is nice, and I don’t mind the color of the dress caused by the net overlay, but then mixing that with the lace itself is just not working for me. I just…I just don’t like it very much. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but I still don’t like it.

    Four out of ten.

    • Good point about the bottom of the lattice. I keep imagining it mirrorring/following that V at the neckline when I’m not looking at the picture; and then I’m looking at the picture and it isn’t and it’s more blah than it could be.

  30. I do not like it.
    I’m not too fond of these shapeless 20’s dresses to begin with, but this one is worse than usual.
    The colours aren’t working for me. It’s a shame because that green would be stunning if used in the right way, but this dress manages to totally kill it.
    It wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it is without the fence. Ugh, what is it doing there? It looks like the things we put in our garden for the cucumbers to climb on. It’s made worse by the sloppy application. So many puckers. Did it shrink when the dress was washed for the first time?


    The materials themselves are okay, they’re just put together completely wrong.

  31. I want to like it, I do. For the most part, I can. I love that rich emerald and the delicacy of the lace and actually, almost all of the dress. But then. The weird lattice-y stuff on top. It reminds me of when I tried to make a bulletin board for my room with cardboard and bias tape. Maybe she needs a place to stick all her snapshots and letters too?

    Overall, a 6 out of 10. Just can’t get past the goofy fence thing.

  32. Mel the Redcap says

    …It’s a trellis. O_o;; I want to stick pink silk roses all over the grid work and maybe then it’d look good!

    I’ve really got to agree with everyone else, I love the colour (even though it’s not one I can wear, heh) and the lacy/translucent overlay, but the trellis… no. Without it it’d be a 9 or so; with it, it’s only a 5.

  33. I don’t like it. I’m not a fan of lace and I don’t like the geomertic element at all. Without it, it would be 5/10, but as it is, it’s just 2/10 from me.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  34. I think it would be utterly lovely and charming if not for the bold green lattice-work. The creamy lace and netting over the green underdress are beautiful – soft and flowy and everything I like. But the lattice makes the overlayer hang oddly and just doesn’t seem to suit the dress at all. I’d give this a 10 without the lattice-work, but with it I can only manage a 7.5 and that’s because I can see the potential in the rest of the frock!

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