18th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Dance off, 18th century style

Last week I showcased a VERY pink, VERY 18th century influenced Worth gown.  Some of you were sure it was a fancy dress gown, and some of you were equally sure it wasn’t.  Some of you loved it, and some of you thought it was so dreadful it couldn’t possibly be a Worth.  Very mixed reactions!  The ratings evened out at 6.6 out of 10 – not terrible, but certainly not a glowing commendation of the House of Worth.

This week’s Rate the Dress is a dance-off: these two lovely ladies each posed as a dancer in almost the same outfit, but with slightly different details.  Your job is to rate each dancer’s outfit, giving each of them a different rating (even if one is, for example, a 6 and the other a 6.5) Which will you find the prettier dancing frock?

The first model has the advantage of youth.  She paired the  dun and pink frock with a lace border around the neck and sleeves, self fabric sleeves, a rose-trimmed hat with matching palest pink ribbons, and an embroidered or lace apron.  There are two plain rows of contrast trim around her skirt, and her bodice is decorated with a very wide zig-zag lacing effect.  On her feet are white satin shoes with shiny buckles (don’t they look just like American Duchess Georgiana shoes?)

Dancing girl, Levitsky Dmitry G. (1735-1822)

Dancing girl, Levitsky Dmitry G. (1735-1822)

The second model is a bit older, and has gone for a more refined pose, with a self-assured tilt of the head.  She paired her dun and peach pink dress with sheer puffed sleeves, a n embroidered or lace fichu and a plain sheer apron.  Her hat trimmed with pink ruching which frames her face, a falling veil and long peach pink ribbons.  Her skirt has three rows of ruched trim, and has slightly wider skirt supports than the first models.  Her bodice is decorated with criss-cross faux lacing down the stomacher, and a faux waistcoat effect where it opens over the skirt.  Her own white satin shoes peep out from underneath her skirt.

Dancing lady, Levitsky Dmitry G. (1735-1822)

Dancing lady, Levitsky Dmitry G. (1735-1822)

Two outfits, very similar, but with slight differences between the two.  Which do you prefer?  Who will win this dance-off?

Rate each  Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10 (and remember that your ratings must be different from each other, if only by half a point!)


  1. Both are gorgeous dresses! But the first one has a ‘younger’ feel to it. The second has a more mature look about it; she seems more sure of herself. Maybe it’s their facial expressions. 😉
    Personally, I would wear the second one to a dance since the sleeves would breathe more than the first. I’ll rate the first one an 8 and give the second dress a 9.

  2. I think top lady wore it best. Her ensemble has a “less is more” approach which I thinks works best for dancing… less stripes, less contrast, and the fussiest thing is her translucent apron with the embroidery.


    Bottom lady owns the dance and she’s got a sure foot, but the outfit is a bit heavy, a bit gaudy.


    • Heather says

      I agree as well…the first one is simple, fresh. The second one is overdone and over accessorized in my opinion. So…8.5 for the first, 6.5 for the second. That hat, those sleeves…too much.

  3. The first dress: 8/10

    The second dress: 6/10

    I think the extra coverage of the neck and arms on the second dress just makes it feel like a little bit too much is going on, and a bit too covered. Also the pattern on the skirt overlay is prettier on the first dress. Both would have gotten higher points in a different color scheme – it just feels a bit drab and sad for dancing, though I do think the chosen colors compliment each other well.

  4. I don’t like the sleeves on either of the dresses, though the first would probably come the closest to me liking them. Other than that, the second ensemble is my favorite. The hat and the faux waistcoat effect steal the cake, though I do like the embroidered apron of the first girl, and the roses on her simple hat.

    First Young Lady gets a 7.25 out of 10

    Second older lady gets a 7.10 out of 10

  5. Cate says

    I don’t really like the colour combinations, although otherwise the dresses are very pretty.

    I like the first dress best, the difference is in the selves and the proportions of the dresses. The second dress is too wide, the selves are a little too much with all that trimming. I also really like the zig-zagging on the bodice of the first dress.

    I give the first dress 7 and the second 6.

    The too paintings where done while the subjects where both attending the Smolny Institute for young ladies in St. Petersburg. The ladies where exactly the same age as each other, so the apparent difference in age must be due to Levitsky’s presentation of his subjects and the paintings being done ~3 years apart.

  6. I think both dancers went for too many accessories, but overall I like the second better. 6 for the top and 7 for the bottom.

  7. Lylassandra says

    A bit of mutton dressed as lamb, here? I actually might like the second just as well, if not for the sleeves. She makes the right call in wearing the Fichu of Maturity, but she ruins it with those diaphanous sleeves. Give up, darling. Also your hat is falling off.

    I’m not fond of the colors in general, but if I picture them as a part of the same dance troupe, I get all warm and fuzzy about the whole idea.

    The younger girl gets 7/10, for generally looking like she’s having a good time, and because I like the design of her bodice.

    The older gets 5/10, for those sleeves and hat and the snobby look on her face.

  8. I like both, but prefer the brown and peach colour scheme of the second one. I also like her serene expression and prefer the sleeves.

    6/10 for the first one
    8/10 for the second.

  9. I like the second one more, although that might be partly because Lady A looks a little smug and Lady B looks more snarky.

    I don’t feel like the torso proportions are right on Lady A’s dress, which makes me feel (probably unfairly) that there’s something wrong with her ribcage. Something which Lady B has clearly had sorted out, judging by the autopsy lines showing at her neck. (Perhaps she’s undead?)

    More seriously, I think Lady B’s dress, being a darker, richer brown, goes much better with the pink overall. Lady A’s brown makes me think of illness.

    So… I’m going to give Lady A a 4 and Lady B a 7 (although I’d give them both an extra point if they took off the Aprons of Complete Inutility).

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

  10. I’ll give the first dress an 8, and the second a 9. I quite like them both. I really like the fake waistcoat and sheer plain apron over the striped skirt, but I prefer the sleeves on the first dress.

  11. juliaergane says

    They are both high-born ladies going for the bergere-look that was popular in the 1780s. It is obvious by the use of silk and lace fabrics — these are no mere peasant women, even with their ruddy complexions. I am not a fan of brown at all, so the major colour does get a few minuses from me, even though I know the reason for it. It really is 6 of one, half a dozen of another for me on the two paintings; but, if I HAVE to decide NO. 2 gets an 8/10, No. 1 gets a 7.5/10.

  12. Brenda says

    First painting: It’s lovely in every way. It’s simple, they the little details make it charming and the expression on the subject’s face brings out a sense of playfulness. My only complaint is the dun color…rather drab, but it’s picked up by the pink details.


    Second painting: Compared to the first dress, this dress is too fussy with its extra row of trim, more criss-crossing ribbon across the bodice, and an apron taking over the entire skirt. And the puffed sleeves are just awful. What I like best about this whole ensemble is the bonnet.


  13. fidelio says


    They’re both nice, but there’s just bit too much going on in the second one.

  14. I love the first dress! I know a lot of people are calling the colors drab, but somehow I always love both gray and brown, and this seems like a very gray-ish brown. The peachy pink making a strong but simple contrast, and I’m really drawn to the use of lines in the trimming.

    I like the first one a lot better, though. The zig-zag ribboning on the bodice is just the right amount, while it’s overdone on the second one. I love the pattern on the first skirt overlay; the second one is too plain. The two simple bands of trim on the first skirt are terrific; somehow increasing the number of bands and adding ruching makes it not work as well.

    The sleeves on the first one could be worn by anyone; I agree that they look too diaphanous and youthful for the second wearer, but they’re also just not as nice — it’s a bit too costume-y. Second Lady seems to be trying to play Shepherdess Dressup, while First Lady (teenager? youthful sprite?) looks charming but understated.

    First one: 9
    Second one: 7.5

  15. I vote the first 7 out of 10. She’s pretty & posing and I like the sleeves more but #2 gets a 9 from me. She owns it.

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