Rate the Dress: 1910s suits

What an avalanche of 10s last week’s striped ’40s frock was!  Of the 47 votes, only 13 votes were any number other than a perfect 10!  The only complaint that people could make about the frock was that the fabric was slightly reminiscent of tie fabric, or schoolgirl uniforms.  That association ruined it for one or two of you, but most of you thought it was stylish perfection incarnate (and I couldn’t agree more!), so it came in at a fantastic 9.5 out of 10.  

This week let’s stay in the 20th century, and look at a suit from the 1910s – an era where simple lines met quirky details.  This suit of checked  wool features interesting layering and details in brown wool.  The tailoring of the suit is contrasted with  a very soft, frilly feminine collar.

The collar apparently features a pastoral scene with shepherd holding a lamb, leaning against a tree, but I can’t quite make it out.

What do you think of the suit, with its muted  colour scheme, layered-look jacket, crisp contrast detailing, and ridiculously romantic collar?  Just the right balance of restraint and whimsy?  Or ridiculous and weird?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. I like the modest “men-wear” check of the suit fabric, and the matching brown trim and three-strap closure.

    Unfortunately, that’s all I like. I think the soft, frilly lace collar (with a shepherd! holding a lamb? Really!) clashes badly with the structure of the suit. I also think the turned-back cuffs are badly proportioned and the extra peplum-like structure at the bottom of the jacket is just plain awkward. A 5, at best.

  2. Although I like the general lines (even the peplum), it’s a pity that it was put on the model with such visible creases (from having been folded in storage?), but I can’t discount the score because of that, since it has nothing to do with the actual design of the garment.

    I like the fine check, but not the color of it, which strikes me as muddy.

    In theory, the contrast of the delicacy of the collar and the severity of the suit should be a charming detail, but there’s something about the collar that puts me off (perhaps like it was a curtain that someone grabbed off the window in a Scarlett O’Hara moment of improvisation?).

    So, 6.5 of 10

  3. I love it! If the skirt would have been a tiny bit shorter I would wear it any day myself, as it is it’s the first 1910 dress that I feel I would like to recreate one day, since early 20th century isn’t normally my thing.


  4. Ok, the two things that I do not like about this dress are 1) the silly frilly collar and 2) the length of the sleeves. The collar definitely shouldn’t go with this dress. It clashes with the tone of the rest of the outfit and I hate how part of the brown collar underneath pops out randomly. I also feel like the sleeves should be either longer or shorter.

    The rest of the ensemble I like, especially if imagined with a period appropriate hat of awesome.


  5. Rachel says

    Pros: The colors and print – serious enough, but also light and upbeat. And, while I agree that they’re weird, I’m kind of charmed by the enormous cuffs. Less sure about that collar – it didn’t bother me at first glance, though I can’t say I exactly like it either.

    Cons: Yeah, those peplums, and the suit in general feels awkward.

    I love brown palettes, so there’s that, but overall I’m not really feeling this one. 5.5/10

    I’m curious though – this would’ve been worn with a blouse underneath, right? Otherwise that looks like a very scandalous neckline for 1910s day wear. (Or not? Gonna admit I don’t know all that much about it.) Maybe the right blouse could’ve made this work better?

  6. I want it, I REALLY WANT IT. Not in meh brown of course, although possibly in donkey brown, but I just love the style and cut so much.
    I normally rate dresses based on the context of the time as I see it, not on whether I would wear it but in this case, it gets a 10 because it is the first one ever I can see myself in.
    I must make this, slightly steampunkish in its accents I feel, asap. Thank you for bringing this superb bit of yumminess onto my radar!

    • PS Now looking at it on a decent sized screen, I love the colour too. I’m not sure I am game enough to bind anything in velvet, but otherwise I would recreate it, in a slightly bigger size of course *ahem* but it is making me happy today. I even have a lovel karrickmacross collar I could use, or a doily I could make into one. More me. SQUEE!!! *happydance*

  7. I love the combinations of soft frills and sort of a mannish fabric. It’s weird and cool. 7.5

  8. Hmm, do I detect a bit of early 18th century influence? It’s certainly interesting, but I don’t think I’d want to wear it. I don’t like the collar at all, and something about the way the jacket is shaped doesn’t quite do it for me. As for the skirt – it’s kind of a non-entity, especially in those colours. 6/10

  9. Very 1910s. I don’t love it, but I think it would have been stylish when it was made. 8/10.


  10. Somehow manages to be both drab and overdone. The elements seem all right, they’re just not fitted together in the right proportions, or something. Plus it needs ironing! 4/10 from me, because with some severe tweaking it could have been quite nice, I think.

    • I think we have to give antique clothes a pass on things like ironing – museums sometimes aren’t able to press items because doing so would damage the garment, or is too cost or time inefficient.

  11. It’s definitely playing with 18th century lines. Or at least, it is in my mind. And as such, the 1910s hobble skirt is just plain wrong for it.

    The jacket would have possibly been an 8, with the skirt… I’m underimpressed. 6/10

  12. I’ve never been fond of brown. The suit looks boring and dowdy at the same time as overdone with the lace and the buttons. With less lace, more narrow sleeves and more defined hips it would actually be nice (especially in another colour – grey for everydag and red for the joy of it). A sad little 4.

  13. I like the style of the jacket quite a lot and would totally sew something like this for myself (in a very different color and with longer sleeves)…I actually have a bunch of old 1910 sewing magazines with sewing pattern lying around here and have been toying with that idea for a while. I don’t care much for the lace collar but I think the peplum and the fastening in the front is very chic. The skirt doesn’t impress me much but I think it’s a good simple complement to all those details of the jacket. I’d say 7/10 because I like the jacket a lot all in all.

  14. Jenny Wren says

    I like it very much, except for that Little Lord Fauntleroy collar. 7/10, and will someone please give it an iron?

  15. Caroline Ní Loingsigh says

    The lengths of sleeves is a niggle but this makes me wonder. Even since WW2 women’s proportions have changed. Waistlines changed and women have got taller (longer arms legs etc) so is it the case that the proportions (in particular the “lengths”) look a little “off” because the model has the proportions of the modern age? I ask because I really like the outfit but agree that visually something looks a little off. I love the tailoring, however, I hate the collar, it reminds me I need to get the Fairy Liquid out and do yesterday’s washing-up – dang you, Dramstress! 🙂 8 out of 10.

  16. letthemeatcake says

    The suit looks boring but dressing down could be all right for a regular day. It tries to be moderately modern for the time but
    it ends up being rather dowdy. But at least it tries. Chanel around 1917 was really fashion fortward for the time, she used a lot of traditional menswear fabrics and Jersey wich give the wearer an easy feeling. After centuries of fainting in tightly laces corsets this felt fresh and desirable.I don’t mind the sedate colour of the fabric but it could have just a better quality somehow.There are two pleats at the front of the lower jacket that have no trimming. Instead it’s just folded. If all the brown trimming was gone and replaced by a folding technique…that would lift the whole thing. Like an origami dress…Kind of giving it something japanese…. And for my eyes it does not need those three decorative closing bits at the front, neither those prominent sleeve cuffs. As for the lace collar it’s too nostalgic. I’d have the whole blouse replaced with something soft and comfortable like something cashmere- ish or a high quality Jersey…more like a shawl or shawl collar…the way it is i give it a 5

  17. With the right hat and accessories, that’s going to look awesome. I wonder if the collar is reclaimed antique embroidery from a 1830s-era collar or other piece?

    It does need a steam and press, but I won’t judge it on that as this is clearly a record shot. I love the quirky, but not so sure about the binding at the waist and those weird folds on the already slightly awkward peplum below the waistcoat binding are distracting. On the right wearer with the right accessories, it’d look very smart, but I’m going to say 6/10 as that peplum/coat skirt thing is a bit of a mess and its not the most elegant/striking example I’ve seen of a 1910s costume.

  18. I look at it and think, “What a nice, serviceable outfit.” And it has so much practicality wrapped up in it. Fabric to stand up to everyday wear. A color that won’t show dirt easily. The only delicate floof a collar that I imagine can be detached for cleaning. The piping is pretty, and the button details faintly whimsical, but without pushing too far.

    So very practical.

    And also kind of boring. I imagine that the lady who wore this also made sure to chew each bite seven times before swallowing and always looked both ways before crossing the street.

    I can’t muster more than a 5.

  19. Kathy says

    a 4
    I can see why some one then would wear it, but to my eyes the brown check is boring and the lace collar is baffling. Why isn’t it part of a blouse Maybe some trim on the shirt would have helped?

  20. Brenda says

    So charming! I love the contrast of the business-like checked wool (and brown trimming) and the feminine white lace. Each balances the other out perfectly. The only thing I don’t like is the wide opening in the front part of the jacket. It leaves a gaping hole that somehow doesn’t seem to belong to the rest of the outfit. Still, I can see it as perfect outfit for the working woman (as less common as they were) of that time.


  21. juliaergane says

    I do excuse the creases, colour (I dislike brown violently), and the length of the sleeves (3/4? I do prefer full length). However, on the whole, I do like this suit if I could have it made just for me in a fabulous colour along with a gorgeous hat. Just the thing for tea. 8.5/10

  22. Helene Illervik says

    I think this would look better if it was a bit more filled out, it seems as if the jacket is just hanging on the mannequin. It also looks, at least on my screen as if the mannequin is leaning forward.
    It might be that ironing would harm the fabrick, so I try my best to erase the wrinkles in my head.
    I don’t like the frilly collar. I do however quite like the rest of the suit, and would love to wear it.
    Unfortunately I can’t give this more than a 7, due to the collar and the brown colour. I’m not a lover of brown clothes, mainly because brown doesn’t do anything good for me when I try wearing it.
    So 7/10

  23. What is going on with that peplum? It looks weird without binding when the rest of the edges are bound. Are those pocket bags peeking out from under the edge? How odd.
    Not something I would wear, but I think if it were pressed, and on a lady with a big hat and a parasol, it could be okay.


  24. I like it a lot, but it is not quite perfect. I think what’s going on with the peplum situation is that the jacket has an unbound angular peplum and the skirt has a bound, rounded peplum. Either would be nice (though I might bind the jacket peplum if I was making it) but both together a little odd. Also the sleeves don’t quite do it for me, I think the cuffs are too big at 3/4 length or something. Big cuffs at full length might work, but for a shorter sleeve I reckon a more subtle end. I like the brown tweed and the floofy lace collar though.

  25. I don’t care for the color nor the heaviness of the cuffs. And a heftier manniquin would fill the outfit a bit more and make it look presentable. I give it a 4/10.

  26. Joanne says

    I love, love, love dresses from this decade. You really see the transition from the Edwardian to the post WW I era unfolding over the years. Can you show one from the second half of the decade sometime too? Where there’s the asymmetry in closures,etc.? I used to have a vintage coat from this period that I wore in the winter. Gorgeous!

  27. holly says

    I find this a bit dreary. The outfit deserved at least a good pressing and a better sized mannequin to show it at its best.

    • holly says

      I don’t read other’s posts before I add mine, so I defer to your comment re ironing. I used to work for a film costume company; our oldest garments (Victorian etc) were often stored in pillow cases, gently stuffed (randomly) back in after use. No folding meant no points of stress and wear, every time you put it away it’s in a gentle wrinkled condition, just wrinkles in a different place from last time! A steam would restore the garment ready for wear.

  28. I love this. I don’t think I would be able to pull it off because I’m quite short and long skirts like that don’t work for me but I give it a 10. The cuffs, closures, and cut are all fantastic, and I enjoy how the contrasting frilly white collar actually works with the suit.

  29. Kim says

    I like this outfit. It was made for the 1910’s middle aged woman. It is unfortunate that the mannequin wearing the suit is not as well endowed as the original owner. Nor does it appear that the under garments needed to give the suit the correct shape are in place. Given brown leather gloves and shoes this outfit would have been eye catching. With the right hat, I think she would have stopped traffic.

    The blouse may have come from the same source, but I doubt that it was worn all that much with the suit. I think that the owner would have paired the suit with something that would have shown off the lapels. At best, this blouse would have been worn with the suit on a HOT day. (And the east coast can get mighty hot in the summer).

    I love the way the front fasteners decrease going down the body to the waist, emphasizing the nipped in waist. Another detail I like is that the jacket front binding points down and the peblum binding is running down the body, drawing the eye down, elongating the skirt and perhaps hiding figure flaws.

    I give it a 9.25. .75 deduction because the front lapels are obscured by the blouse collar.

  30. I love this suit. It has a kind of practical elegance. Yes the colours are a wee bit dull – however, as a Steampunk this is fine. The front fastenings on the jacket are almost military and so the lambkin collar adds a touch more femininity. The woman wearing this would be smart, astute, no-nonsense with a hint of romance. 9/10

  31. J. Haven says

    I agree with Kim and others, the presentation is not doing the dress justice.
    I can absolutely see this on a brisk, busy woman, one who wants to look smart and doesn’t care for fussiness. The lace collar is just pretty enough to be suitable for afternoon gatherings, and as it’s a separate piece it can be put safely away when done.
    The points of the lapels poking out do look odd, but I wonder if the lace might have tightened up over the years, or if being worn on a bosom would have made the lapels less apparent?
    A solid 6.

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