20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1940s stripes

Last week I showed a Regency dress that was radical in its simplicity, and use of luxurious fabric.  What you really noticed though, was how radically low the neckline was!

This week’s Rate the Dress features a more covered-up plunging neckline.  It aims for sexy and sophisticated, without a lot of skin.

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Dinner dress of ribbed navy, green & yellow striped silk, Patullo-Jo Copeland, 1940s, sold by Augusta Auctions

Striped frocks have a surprisingly rocky record on Rate the Dress, frequently coming under fire for the placement or mis-alignment of stripes.  How will this one do?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Cheers, Leimomi


  1. Even though it is not at all my style, it’s a truly stunning garment and manages to straddle the line between dashing and elegant with great elan.

    Beautifully handled placement of stripes.

    10 of 10

    • Johanne says

      Couldn’t have said it any better. 10/10

  2. Oooh <3 I think it's beautifull, and I usually don't like lines and green that much. I really like how the lines in the bodice front go against eachother. I would totally wear it!

    9 out of 10 (because it would be even more perfect with red or orange lines XD)

  3. Jamie says

    I. Love. This. So much! The stripes coming together in the back is beautiful, I love the navy color, and as far as I can tell I really like the stripe colors. I love the shoulders! The waist frouf thing in the front (it looks like a small travel umbrella!) is a bit odd, but I can completely ignore that because of how much I like how the gathers in the front come together nicely.

    Sometimes I try a dress on, and want it to look amazing, but the placement of the gatherings/folds looks awful. (I’m looking at you, Banana Republic knockoff of Kate Middleton’s blue dress… I wanted that to work so badly! You get what you pay for, I guess…if I spent $1,500 on a dress, I’m sure it’d look this good too. Haha.)


  4. Elise says

    Sorry to bring down all of the high marks–I cannot get over just how much this looks like a school uniform made up into a (rather elegantly-cut) dress. I cannot ‘unsee’ the girls’ uniform due to the colors despite the cut of the dress and skill of the dressmaker. 4/10.

      • letthemeatcake says

        Yes that navy tie fabric….i don’t think so much school girl here….the effect more is matronly…it dampens it…

    • J. Haven says

      Oh, so that’s what my problem with the fabric is, I couldn’t pinpoint it!

      Other than that – wow, what a dress! It emphasizes exactly the shape I wish I had, and somehow gives a sense of being elegant and relaxed at the same time. Makes me think of Audrey Hepburn.

      The collar looks a bit awkward close up, but the dress isn’t square on the mannequin (or the original wearer had some minor scoliosis.) The side view available on the source’s site is really interesting – the intricate way it’s all put together is fascinating! Could someone(s) critique that, please? It looks very well done to me, but intricate is not my strong suit…

      I love the way the skirt swoops around the right hip, and the gather on the left is lovely.

      8/10, wonderful dress!

      • letthemeatcake says

        Its clever draping…thats why the stripes are working well…the effect is simple but if you take the seams apart and put it flat in the floor you can see that the pattern ( of the skirt) is probably rather complicated …there was draping around the front bodice and the skirt….the rounded shoulder silluette looks like it comes from a sketch and has some kind of interfacing to make the fabric firmer here….the back is cut in 2 pieces which is nice for stripes since there should be a minimum of seams….And this dress is fitted so there is always the possibility to end up with a lot a seams….thats why it might be cut on bias…it makes the fabric more stretchy…. at least some part of the skirt is cut bias because the stripes are kind of in a cycle…Maybe they fixed the pleats with some invisible stitches to some kind of lining to keep it in place and to avoid bulk…the stripes in the middle of the bodice go into opposite direction than the side panels ( of the top) so there should be a seperate bodice underneath….and there could be hidden darts around the waist to make it fitted but it’s probably just some clever draping using the seam between skirt and bodice or the ones between the side panels and the bodice underneath (the stripes around the waist are in a half cycle as well, but could be because a normal torso is just….well…rounded i guess)….it would be interesting to see the side seams…but I don’t think the stripes of the back and the front are meeting but if they do that ‘d be lovely…oh dear…and it looked so simple at first..by the way that…that…tie fabric…for some reason it looks all right to me today…really depends on the woman who wears it…

  5. Sheryl says

    Love this!! Navy blue is hideous on me so I would never wear this, but that doesn’t detract in any way from the clever draping of the stripes and the overall great silhouette.


  6. I like how the stripes are drawing attention up to the face, and the draping too. What I don’t like is how the colors remind me horribly of a school uniform. Perhaps that’s the look the designer was going for? Classic-School-uniform-turned-dinner-dress? Or just to make it look sophisticated… I think it’s a gorgeous dress! Just in a different color.

    6 out of 10

  7. letthemeatcake says

    That’s a hard dress to rate because everything is come il fault and in “good taste”. More interest went into to the appearance of the front …the back being rather plain….but I guess that’s within the realms of good taste because we don’t want to overdesign…so it doesn’t count as a major flaw…..The fabric reminds me on a tie….but that’s not really a flaw either is it.It looks better on a woman who is older than 30…but younger than 60…not a flaw…you need to wear a 1950ish corsage with this so it might be a relief to finally take it off after a few hours in it…not really a flaw….yet I cannot give it a 10 for the simple reason that it looks too familiar to me. I’ve seen this “type” of dress many many times…in different qualities….there are the fabulous couture dresses from Dior…and thousands of spin offs flooding the ready to wear market of the 1950s…this is a good one though…so I give it a 9…

  8. Mary says


    I’m not one of those who is sick of ‘tie’ colours.. or uniform fabric. It looks great.
    By the way,there are schools whose uniforms aren’t plain and dull. Some are tacky colours, and non-breathable fabrics, with puffy sleeves and/or sailor collars. (See J. Kaori sews to see one good sailor collar)
    If your uniform was dull, count yourself fortunate.

  9. Rachel says

    Pros: Gorgeous neckline. Love the collar and how the fabric gathers and falls at the stomach. The stripes work nicely with the dress’ shape, the yellow is a pleasant surprise against the navy. Love how the dress is capable of being svelte and streamlined but the skirt still has fullness and movement.

    Cons: Big shoulders usually don’t work for me, though these aren’t too crazy. I’d have to see it on a real person, but the hem looks like it might hit the leg at an awkward length.


  10. The dress would not be kind to my body proportions; it would make me look like an elegantly draped fireplug. That said, on a tall woman who was not too curvy, it would look magnificent. Navy goes with most things, and the stripes are modest enough not to create a color conflict. Also, I love the way the stripes mate into chevrons in the back. A perfect 10, in my opinion.

  11. Lisa says

    Adore everything about this, an instant 10/10! the wide shoulders wouldn’t do me any favours personally, but I’d wear it regardless 🙂

  12. Tracy says

    I love this dress!!!! Wish it was in my closet right now. 10/10.

  13. Erin says

    For me, this is perfect.

    So elegant, such wonderful stripe placement/alignment.

    It’s a very confident garment, and I’m sure it was worn by an interesting and sophisticated woman.


  14. Abigail says

    I don’t like stripes or sheath dresses, but that dress really pulls everything off! Love it! 10/10

  15. Lynne says

    10 out of 10.

    This is a wonderful dress – great lines, excellent use of the stripes to produce those beautifully matched Vs at the back and that exuberant swag at the hip! Such a perfect 40s shape, yet it could just as well have come from the 1980s, when I had something in a very similar fabric. That colour combination was very popular – I love it!

  16. kat says

    You usually post very old fashions, and they are hard for me to imagine a person wearing. The undergarments, putting it on, trying to move, and so forth. This reason plus my own interests makes me much more interested in 20th century fashions, so I’m glad to see one on here again. Now, this dress is FABULOUS. It’s hard to imagine it with arms and a person in it, however I am trying to visualize Lauren Bacall in it. I like how the stripes do the talking, and there is not much need for jewelry, maybe earrings and bracelet. It does seem appropriate for dinner. It makes me want to play with stripe draping for a modern garment. I rate this a 10/10 because I would make it up in my size in those colors and wear it as is, complete with period shoulder pads. Call me a narcissist, but I think it could be flattering on a lot of people including, obviously, me. Finish level looks good and even how the neckline underlayer stripe ends on a yellow. That’s precision.

    • I can imagine Bacall in this dress, easily. With one of the small dark pillbox hats of the late 40s and early 50s (in navy, naturally) and a pair of navy slingbacks with pointed toes. Or maybe spectator pumps in white and navy.

      • Beatrix says

        Hmmm……I was imagining Ava Gardner in this with a very wide brim navy straw hat.
        Better have some ‘toned’ arms to wear this though.

        • I agree about the arms. And yes, Ava Gardiner in a broad-brimmed hat could pull this dress off, too! It all depends on your preferred accessories….

  17. Ooh, yes please! Not really my colours, but I’d wear it anyway. 10/10 for the cut, the curves, and having fun with stripes. Also nice to see a skirt with a tapered look that doesn’t require the wearer’s knees to be nailed together.

    • Furthermore, I have nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. No obligation to accept, but the details are on my latest post if you’re interested.
      Have you ever considered starting a gang of international garment thieves, liberating these treasures from museums into the wardrobes of those who would truly appreciate them? 😉

  18. Wow, it’s great. I’ve just somehow ended up looking up Marvel Cinematic Universe heroines and their clothes, and I could so see this there somewhere, both in the 1940s and in the modern age!

  19. 10 out of 10 from me despite the men’s tie fabric. I think it would be so flattering on.

  20. Love it. It’s extremely chic. Perfect stripe treatment, and love a good drape. I am kind of annoyed, because I can’t see anything to object to. 10/10

  21. Helene Illervik says

    I was going to give this a 10, but after a closer look, I have to go down to an 8. The details making me lower the score are the bow looking detail at the waist and the collar. The stripes are so beautifully aligned throughout the dress but the collar doesn’t match, and it’s so obvious when you look at the collar and the stripes on the actual dress, also the two sides of the collar aren’t mirror images of each other. I know I explain this in a very strange way, sorry about that. It’s all very clear in my head 😀
    So 8/10 for this. I would love to wear it, though as I think it’s a beautiful dress, even if I would have prefered it wilhout the bow and collarless.

    • J. Haven says

      I can’t argue about the poof 🙂 but the collar looks odd partly because the dress isn’t centered on the mannequin.

  22. Great use of stripes. Of course, I think it would look better with a real body in it! There is nothing I don’t like, so 10/10 on this one.


  23. PatW says

    Could never in a million years have worn this, but love it. Perfect 10/10

  24. I love it. I want it. I even like the school uniform tie fabric. And the draping/waist froof is so sublime.

    9/10 for near-perfection.

  25. mom says

    Almost perfect, apart from that strange roll of fabric at hip height.

    But apart from that: simply stunning.


  26. juliaergane says

    I love this. Of course, I have the shoulders to carry it off ;-)! 10/10

  27. Brenda says

    It’s absolutely gorgeous. I love its asymmetrical shape and color combination. Well, the colors could be a little bit brighter. Then again, that could be my modern tastes speaking. The sleeves, however, seem like they would be a bit too pointy for my tastes.

    But overall, 9/10

  28. Karen says

    The draping on that is simply heavenly. I’m not 100% crazy about the thin-ness of the belt in back, but it’s a tiny quibble. I would wear that frock in a heartbeat.

  29. I think it’s lovely! All those beautifully matched stripes…
    10 out of 10.

  30. I don’t wear dresses, but I’d like to wear this one (assuming I had the body for it – it wouldn’t actually look good on me). The use of draping, stripes, and colours is really stunning. 10/10

  31. Miriam Marschall says

    Wow! 10/10. I’d give eleven, if I could!

  32. Amy says

    Loving the stripes and their colours! The green and blue make for a nice pairing. They are very cleverly handled, especially around the gathering at the hip, with the bodice inset, and down the back. The drape on the left hip is also beautiful, but I’m not in love with the pouf-style gather on top of it. With something a little less ostentatious the stripes and beautiful fall of the fabric could really be allowed to shine. I am similarly unimpressed by the wide sleeve openings – that large triangle shape is very characteristic of the period but in my opinion is poorly handled in this case and ruins the elegance of the dress. The high collar, however, is dramatic and lovely. For the parts I love, 7.5/10.

  33. Carol Butsko says

    I would wear this in a heartbeat and I never saw a school uniform that looked anything like this!

    What the heck, 10/10!

  34. plantingoaks says

    This is fabulous. The only thing keeping it from a 10 is I’m not overly fond of 40s fashion: it’s awfully masculine, and the shoulders are pretty severe. Again, pitch perfect for the era, but 10s are special


  35. holly says

    I think this is the most fantastic thing I’ve seen in a very long time. Thank you especially for photo 3.
    If the dial went up to 11, that’s what I’d be giving it; as that’s unlikely, from me it’s a:


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