19th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Walking in Stripes in the late 1860s

Last week I showed you a Regency era fashion plate that featured  a decidedly interesting evening dress.  Opinions on the dress were decidedly divided: you either thought it was fabulous (with small caveats about the peplum and bodice trim), or hated it.  And you either thought it would be even more fabulous on a body, or far less fabulous!  So most scores were either well below 5, or well above 5, resulting in a rating of 7.4 out of 10.  Wackiness and all, I guess more of you liked it than not!

This week’s Rate the Dress in a little toned down compared to last week, but it does carry on the peplum theme.

This striped walking ensemble features a fitted bodice, a bustled skirt, and a separate belt with false peplum.

The dressmaker has made full use of the stripes: arranging them vertically, horizontally, and on the bias.  But the striped usage isn’t always what we’d expect: note how the bias chevrons down the front don’t form further ‘V’ shapes, but crook at angles across the point.  And the peplum stripes run parallel to the front edge, rather than angling  away and enhancing the effect of the skirt flare away from the waist.

What do you think?  Would a lady strolling down the sidewalk in this ensemble present a picture of scintillating interest as the stripes shifted and moved?  Is the potentially overpowering pattern and trim balanced by the subtle colours (in a generally unsubtle era)?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. Brenda says

    I love it. Absolutely adorable. All the different stripe patterns come together just right and make it interesting enough that the subdued color scheme doesn’t matter. Some might call it a bit staid, but for a promenade dress, it’s perfect.


    PS-The hat doesn’t seem to go with the rest of the outfit, but I’ll just assume that it wasn’t originally part of the ensemble and that it was randomly put there by the curators of the museum

  2. redbarngirl says

    I would totally make this dress, but I would line the stripes up better. I do like the way the stripes are on the sheverons, though. 9.5/10

  3. You should not have pointed out that the stripes do not line up. Now I cannot unsee, and it’s a 5, while before it would have been a 7 or thereabouts. 😀
    I don’t know, maybe it’s me generally not liking the era. They had a thing for buttons, and I have a thing against buttons. And the fabric reminds me of my father’s pyjamas.

    • I don’t actually think of the stripes as being ‘wrong’ or not lining up! Just of being different to how stripes are usually done!

        • AND they are not lined up. Which also distracted me 😉

          I really like parts of it. It’s a good color for hiding dirt, and looks sturdy. But the placement of the stripes–eek! I’m so sorry–I will give it a 6.

  4. Sorry the stripes give me a headache and make it impossible to concentrate on the cut of the dress, so just 4 out of 10 from me.

  5. Rachel says

    The stripes don’t bother me too much on the page, but in person I think they’d be monotonous and overwhelming. I’d like it better if they were offset with solid gray or some other color. Not a fan of the sloped shoulders and short torsos of this period, but I do like the structure the skirt and peplums give the dress.


  6. Overall, it’s detailed enough to be interesting without being too much, but those slightly-off stripes would really start to irk me after a while. On the other hand if you weren’t standing too close to the wearer, it would be fine. 6/10 because it’s nice enough.

  7. I like the silhouette, and the crisp fabric. But I think the dressmaker tried to get too clever with the stripes. If the stripes on the main parts of the bodice and skirt were aligned vertically (up and down) instead of horizontally (side-to-side), the angled placement of the strips on the chevron tabs, cuffs and trim strips would have looked like a clever styling effect. This way, the stripes appear to be going every which way. That’s the only real defect in an otherwise sharp ensemble, so I’ll give it an 8.

    As for the hat, I agree it probably was thrown on the mannequin by the museum; it doesn’t really go with the ensemble. But a similar hat all done in black velvet, with a blood red ribbon cockade and matching feather…perfection!

  8. Love it but I agree about the hat, it does not go with that outfit at all. But I would wear the stripes off that dress.. 9/10

  9. A really nifty, wearable outfit: if it were in a cotton or bright colors it would be loud, but in the tonal silk it’s nice. The stripe treatment, however, is amateurish and makes me think that the dressmaker either wasn’t that skilled our wasn’t on her game when she made up the dress. Perhaps she did the cutting and gave instructions to assistants who did the making up, and they didn’t pay close attention. Whatever…it’s still awkward. Other than that though, sporty and fun.

    8 out of 10.


  10. I was all in favor — until I noticed the weird matching of the fabric at the chevrons. That looks terrible — if you’re going to put that much work into a dress like this, why make such a mismatch? Although, with how ALL of them make the same angle makes me suspect that it was either intentional, or at least acknowledged.

    I give it 6/10. It would have been higher for overall excellence in construction, form and style, if it weren’t for those blasted stripes. Just the ones in the front! The peplum’s fine!

    Also, it really reminds me of one of the bustle dresses that Merja made.

    • Also why are people hating on the hat? It’s a darling little hat and it matches the blue/purple well! For all we know, there’s a tiny red line on the white of the stripes, and the hat goes PERFECTLY. I would pair them any day of the week.

  11. This is perfect.
    The colours are subdued and don’t clash, the “decoration” is tasteful and beautifully done (the piping! The piping!), the silhouette isn’t overdone or ridiculous, the military inspiration subtle enough, the whole dress a joy to look at and I love the sweet hat.

    One point deducted because some of the stripes don’t line up perfectly.


    I love it, I love it, I love it.
    Why can’t I find a dress like this in my attic???

    • Sorry, can I change my rating? Took a better look on the dress and noticed that the stripes everywhere directioned to everywhere 😀 Someone was really tired or unskilled when making this dress from this fabric 🙁 So my new rate is 7/10

  12. Why can I never see things like this on display when I make a trip to Powerhouse?!? In fact, every time I go there, there’s a display of more modern clothes, and almost nothing on historical clothing… Guess Murphy’s law comes into play when I visit Sydney!

    Overall, love this, but have to deduct for the stripes on the chevrons. It looks like it was made by someone who didn’t allow for what happens when you cut stripes on the fold! Everywhere but the chevrons I’m fine with, but it just keeps drawing my eye to the badness. So, what would have been a 9 becomes a 7.5. Not quite seeing why people are thinking the hat doesn’t go though. It seems to pick up the colour of the dress stripes, and the black; the red could just be an accent.

  13. Beatrix says

    I rather like the ‘full use’ of the stripes on this ‘walking dress’, otherwise I think it would have been a bit boring.
    I think the hat goes well with the ‘military inspired styling of the dress also.
    Yes, the stripes on the chevrons are a bit wonky- I don’t think in 1865-1870 fashion was as concerned with ‘matching’ patterns or stripes. I’ve seen some plaid outfits from this time period that were truly wacky.

  14. I didn’t even notice the stripes not matching till you mentioned it. Even with the stripes not matching, I still really like the ensemble.
    9 out of 10

  15. I like it, in spite of my better judgement. It looks too busy and maybe even messy with the stripes going in so many different ways.
    But …

    The colours look fairly subtle, not very high-contrast so it may mute the ‘messiness’ of the stripes.

    And, I also suspect it would look stunning when the wearer was moving. The stripes, and the slight sheen would give a strong sense of movement, which could look fabulous.

    Um… mabye 7 out of 10, because really, those stripes are a bit much

  16. juliaergane says

    This is he first dress that does not make me smile. The pattern is OK, possibly a 7/10; the fabric a 4/10; total score 5.5/10.

  17. I wouldn’t put all the stripes in the directions they’re in here, but otherwise there is very little to complain about with this dress.
    The cut is nice, the fabric is nice, and I quite like the buttons.

    It’s good to see an 1860’s dress with such a calm colour scheme.


  18. I think the stripes are just too much but they might be interesting as a promenade thing… It’s kind of hard to see the cut of the dress under the stripes but I do like it. The buttons seem out of place with nothing really matching them…. 7.5/10

  19. Too many stripes in too many directions. Why buttons on the chevrons?

    a 3

  20. I really like the stripes and the black piping detail, but the buttons are killing it for me. Maybe striped buttons would have taken it to the next level? 6/10

  21. I love it from that angle, but really need to see it from the front to see how jarring those stripes are in the inserts. I’m going to give it an 8 though based on what I can see

  22. Hehehe – I just found myself noting the paper hair and the hat more than the actual dress. That must mean a giant MEH from me on the dress 🙂


  23. 6.5/10 – it’s nice, but not really exciting. I love stripes, but the very subdued palette in this isn’t working so well. It lacks a certain flair. It really should have a nice white collar and wristlets to make it pop a bit more as it looks incomplete. Nothing that’s actually bad here – it’s just a little unexceptionable and very nice and middle-class and shrinking violet and kind of forgettable even though there are bits about it that ought to be more memorable than they really are.

      • Hehe. I knew exactly what dress you would link to. I, however, find the V&A dress every kind of blah and mediocre. I’ve never liked it in Janet Arnold, and seeing it as a photo just made it worse: twee, awkward, saccharine, unbalanced, fussy: you name it, I’ve called it that.

        But that’s what makes fashion interesting!

  24. Oh my! I love this! I would wear this in a minute! Some previous commenters didn’t like the pallet but I love purples! If it seems sedate perhaps that is on purpose. Purples were an acceptable color for later stages of mourning. Perhaps this was intended for an older or conservative woman.
    If I made this dress, I’d “fix the stripes on the “v” decorations. They may have been going for asymmetrical but it bugs my OCD. 9/10

  25. I love the stripes and the way they were handled everywhere but on the front chevrons.


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