Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Caspar Nescher’s Lady in Gold

Last week I showed you a ca. 1908 gown in shimmering beaded  black, with just a touch of blue around the neck.  Quite a few of you had problems with the touch of blue (clunky fringe), and the oh-so-fashionable for 1908 asymmetrical sash.  Despite the universally agreed utter fabulousity of the skirt, those two elements dragged the otherwise sterling sparkle of the dress down slightly to an 8.6 out of 10.

To finish off the year, here is a lady from one of my favourite time-periods in a lavish golden gown:

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum

The dress features the fitted, boned bodice of mid-17th century fashions, which would later become the 18th c. robe de cour bodice.  The sleeves look back to the 16th fashion, with strips that form a slashed effect, allowing the fine linen of her shift sleeves to peek through, and fall in ruffles below the short sleeve.  A fine ruffle of lace or shift frames the low neckline, which is framed with a twisted scarf of fabric, pinned with a jeweled ornament.

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum (detail)

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum (detail)

Caspar’s lady pairs her dress with a simple (but, at the time, extremely expensive) pearl necklace, and fashionably curled hair with a bun at the back.  There is the suggestion of a glimmer of further pearls or jewels in her hair.

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum (detail)

Caspar Netscher (circa 1639—1684), Lady at the Window, 1666, Von der Heydt-Museum (detail)

What do you think?  The picture of refined luxury, perfect for a slow day at home with a favourite pet, or a 1660s New Year fete?  (most countries having adopted Jan 1 as the official New Year in the late 16th c, though England would hold out until 1752, even if most people in England celebrated it in January anyway).  Or is a gold dress a little too ostentatious for anything short of a royal ball?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Julia Ergane says

    I definitely agree with you about the 17th century. I love this dress or what I can see of it ;-). Even though I don’t wear the colour myself as it does nothing for my skin, I know it was extremely popular during the age. However, that aside, I will still rate this dress as a 10/10

  2. This style celebrates the female form rather than distorting it, and the gold fabric would be beautiful against the dark wood and furnishings of the period. 10/10.

  3. Lynne says

    What a beautiful carpet! Covet. The whole painting is a delight. And the dress is a clear 10 out of 10, no questions.

    The dresses of that era look so good on so many shapes and sizes. Not too exaggerated, not too artificial. Charming sleeves. Graceful and generous folds of skirt, and what a colour!

    Isn’t her hair pretty, too?

  4. I’m hit or miss on this era, but this dress nails it. Beautiful subtle color, lovely lines. Bonus points for the parrot. The hair only edges toward silly instead of full-on goofing around (my usual complaint for this era). And a string of pearls completes the look. 9/10 for a lovely golden gown.

  5. I love the gown overall, but I don’t love the sleeves or the flappy bit at the bottom of the bodice. 8/10

  6. It looks a bit too just-about-to-fall-off for comfort to me, but the colour is lovely, and the frills nice without being Too Much. The point of the bodice is sticking out a little weirdly though. Probably painted true to life, but still looks weird. 6/10, if only for the rich colour.

  7. It’s not my favorite period or my favorite silhouette, but it’s just a gorgeous dress that must have looked fantastic in real life. So glamorous. I love the “retro” slashed sleeves. 9/10

  8. I like the dress a lot (though it’s a pity it’s hard to tell what the actual texture of the cloth is from the painting); mid-17th century styles are so graceful. But there are a few awkward details, such as the way the bottom edge of the bodice curls up, that prevent it from achieving perfection. A 9.

  9. Love it, love it, love it. I don’t really find anything I don’t like with it so I’ll give it a 9,5 out of 10.

  10. Laura D says

    My six year old fashionista says to say that she hates it so much and finds it so ugly that she gives it 1/10. The three-year-old, who is also very much a fashionista, says it’s a “beautiful princess dress” and thus gets a 10/10. Me, well, I fall somewhere in between… I hate the neckline, so I give it a 7/10.

  11. Rachel says

    Sure, she has a great dress and she has a fancy parrot and she has a carpet that’s way too nice to drape just anywhere. But having a ghost for a serving maid has to be the height of inconvenience.

    I love the color, but I don’t know enough about the era to know how this dress looks alongside others of its period. But just based on what I’m seeing, the neckline (despite being low) looks restrictive and almost severe. I don’t like the deeply pointed waist either, even if it lay flat on the skirt.

    But I do like the slashed sleeves and underdress, especially how the latter peeks up around her neckline. And I like the minimal embellishments, especially given the gown’s gorgeous color.


    • “But having a ghost for a serving maid has to be the height of inconvenience.” This idea is even more GOLD than the dress!

  12. Elina G says

    Yes I could wear that. And my home could wear the carpet. The bottom part of the bodice does look a bit funny, but it should be possible to fix it quickly. And somebody help fix my hair like that. 9/10

  13. A lot of the 17th century clothes look weird to me, but this is beautiful. I love it, the ‘slashed’ sleeves, the eel-like ruffle along the bottom of the bodice, the glamourous color.


  14. It’s beautiful! I really love this silhouette, though it looks awfully uncomfortable


    (Minus half a point for the weird cuttlefish fin on the bodice.)

  15. I don’t like the “flappy bit at the bottom of the bodice” either, and am somewhat undecided on the undersleeves (are they just interesting enough, or too much?), but otherwise I like it very much, for the reasons others like it very much. 🙂

  16. Juliette says

    Despite not being a great fan of this type of fashion, I really do rather like this dress. I love the linen ruffles and her hairstyle, oddly. I also get somewhat of a ‘looking at Mona Lisa’s smile’ feeling, and wonder what one earth she is looking so secretively smug about?
    Anyway, I must give this dress a 9/10, and the skill of artwork an 11/10. Beautiful painting that I could look at forever.

  17. This must be my favourite period, and I love the sleeves and gorgeous colour. And the carpet!
    Her secretive smile, that some have commented upon, has everything to do with the bird and the the cage. A bird inside a cage was a symbol of virginity and chastity. Now that the bird is out, you can guess why she smiles..!

  18. Elise says

    Yay! I adore it! 10/10! I really like how the time period didn’t demand perfection, like we think of it, now, what with the Real Housewives and Drybar.

  19. Just plain gorgeous. I concur with the sloppy-looking bottom edge of the bodice, but in the painting the lady appears to be slouching a bit so it may just be an artifact of posture in an accurate portrait. (Although how one can slouch in those stays is beyond me.) In any case, it doesn’t upset me enough to deduct points. 10/10

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