19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Bottle Green Riding Habit

Last week I showed Élisabeth Alexandrine in a mad hat and a bizarre fabric dress and a robe.  Many of you found the hat just wee bit weird, but the suggestion of the outfit as a masquerade costume for Nanny Ogg tilted the balance in its favour (and besides, it was rich and elegant and fashion forward), and the rating came in at exactly 8.5 out of 10.

This week’s Rate the Dress was chosen primarily because the mannequin and presentation are strong contenders for the creepiest costume photos ever.  I’m not sure it  quite beats the staging of the  plunging Regency frock for dreadfulness, but I could equally see it as a Dr Who villain!

So yeah, no points for the mannequin.  But what do you think of the riding habit with its gold trim and high standing collar?  The gigot sleeves and back pleated skirt?  Perfect sartorial elegance for a day with equines, or too stiff and formal?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. I so much love the collar and front embroidery that I give a pass to the gigot sleeves and bulk in the back of the skirt (it probably balances out the drama of the collar, but it makes the high waistline look somewhat odd). Also love the deep green color.

    This looks like the kind of garment one would put on like a suit of armor to boost one’s self-confidence, and a good job it would probably do!

    The mannequin’s head is truly horrific.

    Ignoring the mannequin, 9/10

  2. I absolutely adore that dress, it’s incredibly elegant and I love the colour & trim, so 10! But tell me: is it just me or is she wearing a huge bum rump (almost like a bustle?)

  3. Elise says

    I typically don’t like puffed sleeves, but I love this dress! Imagine this color and trim with a black hat seated upon a chestnut horse in green green England with some white sheep in the background to reflect the cloudy sky. What a beautiful picture image, all told.

    10/10 for me!

  4. Brenda says

    Eeeek!! That mannequin is gonna give me nightmares!
    …but that riding habit, though. I love it. It’s almost TOO plain and too dark, but the gold trim on the collar, the pockets and bodice goes perfectly with the dark green (perfect for going hunting!). I usually don’t like bustles, puffed sleeves, and high collars, but even with these things, the silhouette still remains simple and elegant.


  5. I love the gold braid on the front, enough that I now want to incorporate into a costume. The collar and sleeves are dramatic, but the detailing is simple and elegant. A perfectly balanced design; I just wish there was a view of the back.


  6. I like it, all the elements balance each other really well. It looks simple, but very elegant. 9/10 from me.

  7. juliaergane says

    This is perfectly lovely and elegant. 10/10

  8. I couldn’t get the image of a Doctor Who villain out of my head….

    I’d give it an 8/10. I very much like the collar, the puffed sleeves, the detail on the gold collar, but the bustle on the back, knocks it down a bit because it’s so oddly placed to my mind. What does she have an odd hump back in the middle of her back?

  9. Love it. The lines are so iconic of the early Romantic era. Love the rump, sleeves, collar, and colors.

  10. Jenny Wren says

    I adore it. I normally think Regency lines are dull and awful, but the sleeve puffs and the bustled back give it some 1880s WHAM!


  11. The riding habit itself is quite lovely. I think I would wear it if I lived in the past times when they wore such garments. But that mannequin is the creepiest I’ve ever seen! What were they thinking???

    9 out of 10

  12. Rebecca says

    This dress drove me out of multi-year lurking mode. I love everything about this, including the mannequin. I wish we could see more of the construction of the back, especially as it’s meant for riding–what an interesting way of giving a lady enough room for movement, knees, and saddle bits without breaking the stark lines of the front. That color! That collar! Those sleeves! Is that a pocket? I’ll let someone else rave about the embroidery.

    9/10 from me because I’m still not entirely a fan of the lumpy looking back, but not sure how much of that is inevitable and how much is posing issues. The lines–all of them–of the jacket more than make up for it, though, at least in my book.

  13. Hehe, it really would make a very good Doctor Who villain! (*continues laughing nervously*)

    The riding habit is so wonderful in a completely different, non-creepy way. The Rijksmuseum tends to have pieces I love! I wonder how that happens… 10/10

  14. Tracy RAgland says

    I love this! It is perfectly elegant and I can see it on a lovely lady riding sidesaddle. Horrible mannequin, though!

  15. I actually like the mannequin. quite… like modern sculpture 😀

    dress – 9/10!

  16. I love riding habits in general, and I love this shade of green, and the cut of the bodice. I’m less enchanted with the embroidery motif and the skirt, but not disenchanted enough to take off lots of points. A 9.5.

  17. So, yeah that mannequin is somewhat Whovian… but the riding habit is just so pretty. Actually I have some bottle green fabric lying around here to make something similar sooner or later. So: It will get a 9.

  18. Sue Miller says

    Elegant, graceful, love the fabric, the colour and the adornment. It would fit into any wealthy woman’s wardrobe. Love it. 9/10

  19. Lynne says

    I love it! 10 out of 10. Okay, it is one of my favourite colours, and it looks so good with the relatively small amount of gold decoration (paisley swirls instead of pretend-hussar – very swish). The collar is divine. Elegant, simple cut, and it looks fit for purpose.

    The suffocated head in the plastic bag, however is a nightmare! What were they thinking? Better a manniquin with no head than that!

  20. Belinda says

    I love how the embroidery suggests both paisley and military braid at the same time. Genius! The silhouette is so dramatic and slick that I can’t help but think of its wearer as a strong, go-getting personality. I’m not usually that crash-hot on gigot sleeves, but they look great here. 10/10.

    Good lord that’s one creepy mannequin. Looks like someone tried to smother it with a plastic bag… *shudder*

  21. holly says

    Simple, elegant, but I can hardly imagine riding in that! Most cumbersome I imagine.
    Points for the deep green and the embroidery details. Bonus points for the high collar and puff sleeves.

  22. Angela Wicentowich says

    I love this riding habit. Beautiful colour and gorgeous details.

  23. “I could equally see it as a Dr Who villain!” and you say that like it’s a BAD thing!

    It’s far from my favorite era, I often find it so unflattering, but I kinda love this outfit, creepy mannequin and all. 😉

  24. Brooke says

    Love it! It reminds me of Felicity the American Girl… 9!

  25. Why is the museum so sure it’s a riding habit? Because nothing about it screams ‘habit’ for me. I am no expert but I look at a lot of habits. This single view doesn’t help much either.

    While the stand-up collar is brilliant, I’ve never seen something as outlandish on a riding habit, which were quite sober, fitted affairs around the neck.

    Also, for this age I’d expect it to be a pinnydress + spencer combo, or jacket + skirt. The item information (via google translate) implies it’s a one piece dress. Having a two-piece works better when riding, as when you are sitting on your dress and need to tilt your upper body forward or back you pull on the waist seams.

    For riding, the skirt needs to be voluminous and slightly asymetrical so it sits correctly when on horseback, covering the right leg that juts out over the horse’s neck. That usually meant ladies buttoned up the extra left side fabric when walking, or carried it in a bundle under one arm. This skirt looks a normal shape, and I can’t see how a pleated back would help when riding, that’s not where you want volume. .

    Also there should be a hat to match this outfit – looks like it has been lost, how sad.

    I think it’s a travelling dress, but not specifically for riding. Again, I’m no expert but it seems not right to my eyes.

    Still it’s a 9/10 for the shape, colour and trim, regardless of what it is!

  26. That’s a lovely riding outfit — even though it’s being worn by the Scarecrow’s Evil Cousin, and the Wicked Queen from Snow White got hold of it and put on that collar. (Hmmm, maybe it’s not the Scarecrow. Maybe it’s the Queen herself, with a plastic bag over her head. I’m sorry, I can see lots of people love the collar, but I’m afraid of poison apples.) Still, I love the shape of the 1820s, the embroidery, the elegant simplicity with those side pockets … and the color wouldn’t get wrecked by the mud and dust. So it’s pretty AND practical! Minus a point for the collar. 9/10

  27. Despite the terrifying mannequin, the dress gets 10/10 from me, beautiful design, I would love to wear it! And as the person above said, it’s a good colour for hiding stains!

  28. Helene Illervik says

    Striking! I love it. A clear 10 from me.

  29. Laura says

    The gigot sleeves aren’t overdone on this one. I love everything about it. 10/10

  30. TEN OUT OF TEN. Absolutely GORGEOUS. So perfectly proportioned and understated and stunning with amazing detail and that collar. It’s sheer perfection. Can’t see a SINGLE thing to object to. Love it.

  31. Marilyn J. Hollman says

    Wonderful dress!
    With length and slight sleeve alteration would make a terrific Oscar night costume.

  32. 10/10… and slightly annoyed because I used to live not far from the Rijksmuseum, but it was always under construction! Ah well. Perhaps next time I’m in the NL they’ll have some lovely dresses on display. The freaky-deeky mannequin doesn’t really bother me a bit since the lighting and photography are really great!

  33. It’s beautiful! Especially considering how awkward the 1820’s normally look. The pocket flaps, collar, and bodice trim are all perfect.


  34. Georgian Designs says

    Breathtaking… elegant, fabulous lines, just enough decorative detail.

  35. Erin says

    It is interesting that the “creepy head effect” is enhanced by the fact that the head as sculpted looks remarkably like one of the sleeves.
    Love the dress. 9

  36. Love it! Just decorated enough to still be elegantly understated but not boring. 10/10.
    Although how she expects to find (let alone ride) her horse with her scarf blowing up like that is anyone’s guess 🙂

  37. My gosh…if I could wear something like that everyday, I would. 10/10. Stunning.

  38. I can’t fault it, nowhere to lose marks so it has to be 10 (again. I think I’m marking too generously, but I can’t help loving historical dresses!)

  39. I think it’s stunning and quite austere for the 1820s. I’ve never really looked at the mannequin, but I agree that it’s creepy! 10/10 for the habit, though.


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