19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Silk feathered Redingote

I know I need to add up the ratings for Winnaretta Singer, and let you know what her score was, but tonight I just need sleep, so you’ll have to wait a bit.  Sorry.

UPDATE: What a fascinating discussion came out of Winnaretta Singer and her checked suit, with people divided on the outfit as a whole, and divided on whether we should consider just the outfit, or the woman and her outfit.  I do think that the wearer is so important to an item – there are gorgeous frocks that would look stupid on me, and rather insipid frocks that I could bring to life.  Ultimately though, while I completely disagreed with the reasons I concur with Cathy that the outfit was a fashion risk that didn’t pay off.  I liked  the androgynous silhouette – such a hallmark of late teens and early 20s fashion, and such a refreshing shock after the shapely ‘prettiness’ of earlier teens looks.  It was a sharp, deliciously bitter amuse-boche between more standard tasty courses.  The hat though, was twee and ridiculous with the clever suit.  Or that’s what I thought.  Anyway, it rated a 6.9 out of 10 – which is exactly where I would have put it.

On a side note, I should mention that Singers’ flat shoes were definitely a signal that she lived an alternative lifestyle – rather like extremely short hair on a woman today signals her willingness to live outside the norm of societal expectations, although neither necessarily indicates or indicated that a woman is lesbian.

This week, let’s look at another piece of outterwear: a wool redingote with feathered trim:

Pluche de soie trimmed wool redingote, Lancaster-Barreto collection, ca. 1808

Pluche de soie trimmed wool redingote, Lancaster-Barreto collection, ca. 1808

The redingote was featured in Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion, so we get to see it fully styled and paired with accessories: ruffled chemisette collar, feathered hat, cameo, marocain purse and gloves.

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and feathered trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and pluche de soie (silk feather) trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

Still, accessorised or not, this outfit is all about the redingote and its detailing, from the feathered trim to the fashionably too-long sleeves.

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and pluche de soie (silk feather) trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and pluche de soie (silk feather) trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and pluche de soie (silk feather) trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

Redingote of camel wool, with collar, buttons and piping of silk organza, and pluche de soie (silk feather) trim, circa 1808, Lancaster-Barreto collection

UPDATE: Thank you to  Sabine, who was the first to properly identified the trim as  pluche de soie  – silk made to imitate feathers.  I’d suspected that is what the trim was, but the only name I knew for it was in Hawaiian, and I didn’t think describing it as a redingote trimmed with  lei huluhulu kilika  was going to be very illuminating for most of you.  And yes, it’s very hard to find, but you can actually make it – with a lot of effort and time!

What do you think?  Is it fabulous or feather brained?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. I like the silhouette and the belt detail in the back very much, but somehow I don’t love the collar, or the color scheme. The camel just has too much of a reddish, yellowish overtone to go well with the feathers (though I don’t mind the feathers in and of themselves–they look kind of like a persian lamb or similar kind of curly fur). So only a 6.

  2. The funny thing is I want to dislike it because of the feathers, but I actually think it is quite charming! The cut is fabulous, and the feathers are actually quite an interesting detail, but they don’t overwhelm the garment. I like it a lot more than I thought I would.


  3. Daniel says

    WOW. That is EXACTLY like something from a fashion plate – almost too good to be true. This is a new collection on me – I’d not encountered it before – and I really would like to know more about it. Everything looks so well-preserved and cleaned up and perfect that it’s almost too good to be true.

    (Did you mean morocco leather purse or marocain as in the fabric, BTW? Or is this a Terminology Post I should look out for?)

    Interestingly, it almost looks like it is a modern film costume – perhaps the realistic mannequin, the appearance of almost-too-perfect pristineness and the hyper-detailed mounting have given it a photo-realistic effect that makes it look artificial and even fake – yes, I said “fake” – although when you see it in the first picture, it DOES look authentically old. I am utterly fascinated and thoroughly intrigued by the conflicting effects and the contrasts between mounting.

    The outfit itself – I’m not a fan of the colour or indeed, of the feathers (which look a bit draggly). The whole ensemble is beautifully put together. I have to say 7.5 out of 10.

    For presentation and mounting – 10/10.

    • facebook.comMr and Mrs Lancaster-Barreto run a facebook-group about their project:
      here is the direct link as well:

      The garments are carefully restored, on the facebook-page you can see some before-after pictures.

      For mounting: In Milan most of the cases were to walk around, so every angle of a garment could be seen (sadly pictures were not allowed, but you’ll find some on Thomason Photography’s page, as Phil Thomason had express permission); In Washington where this was not possible they insisted on mirrors behind the mannequin to enable the visitors to see the other side of the dress too. (The Lancasters are re-enactors as well, so they know what we are all looking for)

  4. The lines of the design are quite elegant, and I actually like the base color.

    It’s possible that when it was new the feather trim would have looked different, but now it looks dingy. If the feathers- were replaced with something like looped felt strips or looped silk cord, I’d find it a 10.

    As it is, 8 of 10

  5. Zach says

    Oh my gosh, that is beautiful! It looks so cozy and…just awesome!!! I love all of the details: the feather trim, the neat belt (with the awesome feather things on the back–perfection!), the collar and those cool sleeves (there is a way to do the “too long” look, and this is it). The way the trim ends at the collar is genius, too. At first I was going to comment on that, but then they added a brooch in the “done up” version and it actually makes perfect sense! I’m just speechless! I don’t know what else I can say!

    Ten out of ten. Definitely.

  6. 10/10 — and, that is rating it solely on its own merits. Personally, I don’t like camel on me (the colour — makes me look yellow). I would love it in periwinkle or dark rose. Just lovely.

  7. My first thought on the feathers was that I didn’t like them at all, but then on the back view they work really well. The trim all the way down the front just seems too much. However I couldn’t imagine what would work instead, and eventually found myself warming to the feathery front.

    I do like the collar, and the belt back detail.

    7.5 / 10

  8. It would be better if the feathers didn’t remind me so much of the scarves my grandma used to knit out of eyelash yarn. The overall color and shape are lovely.

  9. I’m finding myself liking this a lot than I thought I would when I read the title. That being said, I was prepared to hate it. I love the silhouette, I like the belt, I like the feathers on the cuffs, but I stop liking it at feather shoulder puffs. Nope. Not a fan. I also think that even though the camel is a pretty color, it could be in a better one. Maybe without the feathers. 🙂
    I’m gonna give this one a 6.5 out of 10.

  10. This is very nice. It looks great in the fully accessorized pictures!
    My one complaint is how scraggly the feather trim looks. It practically screams “dead animals!”


    It looks very warm and cozy.

  11. Georgeous. Lean, great proportions throughout. Camel color is wonderful on so many people: the lighting in the photos, being so gray/white, is a bit harsh for it. Bring it outside and it will tone down and meld with its surroundings. Bring it into a room lit by windows, or by candlelight, and it’s just as warm.

    Am pretty certain the feather trim looked a lot better when it was new; how can I deduct points when the effect is merely due to time, not to design?

    Only item am not sure about? The camel-colored tasselly trim on the belt in back. Compared to the bravura of the feather trim, it looks small and fussy, as if they were imported from another garment.

    For that misstep (in my eyes), 9/10.

    Very best,


  12. Lynne says

    What a gem! 10 out of 10. I see all the objections (camel doesn’t suit me, either, and I shudder to think of the little birds killed to make this) but the whole thing is just so smart and stylish, it could saunter down a modern cat-walk without raising an eyebrow, except in joy and delight.

    The back is divine. The fullness coming from the beautifully trimmed belt is perfect. This whole high-waisted style is beautiful on almost everyone if you get rid of those darned fool little puffed sleeves which just make most women look foolish (and which make me look like a bouncer in drag, so I admit the personal prejudice), and go for a longer, simpler, slimmer sleeve line.

    This redingote deserves to be widely copied – maybe in another colour and with a different trim!

  13. wintu nancy says

    I don’t usually leave a comment on the rate the dress posts. Sorry to be a lurker. I do have to comment this time about the background fabric in the first photo. It is to die for…but then I am crazy about paisley. And as for this dress, it is one of my least favorite of the ones you’ve featured, from a distance that it. I did enjoy seeing the photos that showed detail.

    • I suspect the background fabric in the first photo is an antique paisley shawl, probably more ca. 1860 than contemporaneous with the redingote.

      • Beatrix says

        My Kashmiri husband (who specializes in antique textiles of Kashmir) says that paisley fabric in the background is a 19th century ‘jamavar’ shawl.
        I’m not a big fan of the camel wool color scheme & the feathers look a bit tired, but I love the cut & elegant silhouette.
        Make mine in black please!

      • Daniel says

        I suspect they originally bought this from VintageTextile.com – although they don’t use that shawl (or one very like it) any more, it used to be a very popular backdrop.

  14. This looks wonderfully cozy and warm, a nice antidote to the usual fluffy muslin dresses that are called to my mind when Regency-era fashion is mentioned. I don’t think I’m quite sold on the feather trim as something I would wear myself, but the effect is striking. 9/10.

  15. Really? The trim is organza? That seems so flimsy and it doesn’t look like organza… but I digress. I think this is a fabulous example of the Regency aesthetic and for that I give it a 10/10. Also, I like it and would absolutely wear it. 🙂


  16. holly says

    great silhouette! minus points for the manky feather trim, but perhaps it looked better in its time?


  17. Ick! Not a fan. It makes my nose itch just to look at it. But it gets a. Few points for silhouette.

  18. I like the silhouette but I just want to pull all the feathery stuff off. 4/10

  19. Belinda says

    Oh my how funky! It’s sort of Melbournian granny-dressing hipster via 1808. I can imagine a housemate of mine wearing it for Regency-period adventures with Doctor Who.
    At the same time, I think it would be a little more becoming and less lichen-encrusted-camel-coaty in a different colour scheme. Then perhaps I would wear it rather than my colour-indifferent housemate.

  20. I totally adore the lines of it! So elegant and simple. To me the base colour works really well with the feather trim and it’s got just the right balance of decoration and simplicity. However, something about the collar just throws me off.


  21. Sue H says

    I’m in love! My period, elegant, playful, perfect 10.

  22. Lene says

    WOW with wow-sprinkles on top! 🙂 Totally in love here…

    Not one bit of this garment puts me off of it – would totally wear it around town tomorrow if I only could.


  23. Fabulous! I would wear it today! (Well, maybe not today because today is sunny…) It’s got a very timeless sort of elegance.
    The feathers are a bit not right, colour- and texture-wise, though maybe the contrast of the smooth fabrics and the somewhat prickly feathers is deliberate. 9,5/10

  24. A beautiful, yet typical styled woolen pelisse of the period – BUT the magnificent trim!!!
    This is what truly makes the garment special.
    It’s pluche de soie, plush made of silk. The material was quite elaborate and stunning back then and today there’s unfortunately hardly any offered…(some might know a shorter – more furlike and less featherlike) version from teddybear’s fur)!
    Gorgeous example of the perfection period dressmakers have put into detail!

  25. Love it, especially the detail at the back of the belt, and adore the way the skirt drapes at the back too. 10/10 from me.

  26. Olivia Cockley says

    I love this coat! The cut is really gorgeous, and it looks so warm. The one thing that I don’t really like about it is the feathers, which remind me of an old mop. Keeping in mind that the feathers (hopefully) looked a bit better 200 years ago, I’ll give it a 8/1o. (The only reason that its not a 10/10 is because there is the slight possibility that those feathers looked just as mop-like in 1808) 😛

  27. facebook.comHej hej
    I am sorry to bust so many dreams of feathers and feather trim, but this pelisse is not trimmed with feathers, but with peluche de soie – think of a long haired velvet made from silk yarn, what gives this lush feathery look. But it’s silkworm, not bird.
    In the period even imitation feathers were made from silk (there’s a fine example at the collection of the Basel historical museum, as Basel was a hub for the production of silk ribbon and related items – and it looks lush, luxurious and so alike the most expensive plumes!)

    If anyone is curious, the collectors, Mr and Mrs Lancaster-Barreto run a facebook-group about their project,
    here is the direct link as well:

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