20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Peasant chic, ’20s style

Last week I presented an 1840s dress in decadent  amethyst purple silk, and you LOVED it (except for a few, which is almost always the case) and it raced in at a stellar 9.3 out of 10.

This week’s frock features more jewel-toned silk, but this time it is embellished with contrasting embroidery and smocking in white, rather than being one colour.

The silhouette is typical ’20s:  loose, relaxed, focused on a slim, boyish line,  The smocking and embroidery however, harken back to traditional female handcrafts, and the pleated skirt and hanging sleeves would sway with every movement.  This, combined with the way the silk would fall against the figure, keeping the dress on the distinctly female  side.

What do you think?  Does the traditional peasant embroidery fit the modern ’20s silhouette?  Do the embellishments, pleating, and quirky sleeves enliven the dress, or just make it odd?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. A whole lotta nope. I like the color but the trim is all over the place and the drape just doesn’t look like it would be flattering on anyone. 2/10

  2. This is a very strange hybrid of a dress: a very elegant, festive skirt for a lady, and then that strange blouse.
    The embroidery and smocking are exquisite, I would not exactly kill for it but well, you know how it is.
    I rather adore the strange, fluttery sleeves and would love to see the pattern.
    I don’t think the white bit of string at the neck makes a whole lot of sense, especially not in combination with this skirt.
    The color is breathtaking, but the bits above and below the smocked “belt” don’t fit at all – too billowy, compared to the skirt, you could actually hide a whole beer belly underneath.

    So I’m on the fence: embroidery yay, cut nay, and I’ll go for a noncommittal and bland


  3. I really like the embroidery on this dress. It goes so well with the beautiful colour. However, I feel like the bottom and top halves don’t really go together. I would like it more if the skirt was more billowy like the top. 7/10

  4. Although blue is not to my personal taste, I can admire it on others, and this is a particularly appealing shade.

    I do like the combination of folk-craft and fashion and find it fairly well-balanced between the two. My only quibble would be that the sleeve embroidery in its heaviness would stiffen what would otherwise be a graceful flow.

    I would love to see it in motion (perhaps in the Miss Fisher series) and am trying to imagine how it might be accessorized (jewelry would probably be superfluous – except for perhaps a spectacular ring? – but A feathered/jeweled headband?

    8.5 of 10

  5. Jenny Wren says

    That waistband reminds me of the fashion for walking round with your jeans pulled down so low that people can see your pants. Wouldn’t it just be annoying when you tried to walk?

    3/10 for the colour and embroidery.

  6. I love this dress! It has long been on my favorites list, mostly because I would wear it everyday in a heartbeat. I think I’d skip the pumps, though, and go for some Grecian-style sandals– I can’t be the only one who gets 1970s vibes from this, right? It’s definitely not what we traditionally think of as 20s, so it’s unique in that way, too. Add a white felt cloche, hand me a cocktail, and I’ll be the happiest flapper on the planet.

    9.5 out of 10!
    Would be 10 out of 10, but it’s locked up in a museum where I can’t wear it. 😛

  7. Julia Ergane says

    I can really get behind this dress. It reminds me of Russian/Ukranian folk traditions. I absolutely love this shade of blue, especially with the white embroidery, and the billowy sleeves — so graceful. I believe a woman needs to be slenderish in order to wear this well.
    My score: 9/10

  8. holly says

    Not what automatically springs to mind for “20s silhouette.” Beautiful dress, colour and embroidery. 10/10

  9. I really like how this dress looks. The blue silk, the draping, I love it all. I just don’t know how my butt would look in it. I think it must be for some hipless, buttless person. 6/10

  10. I agree with Liz – 1970s peasant dress vibes all the way.

    I like the color. I like the embroidery. I like the body of the dress – it’s consistent with the 1920’s (not my favorite era style-wise, but still) and the smocking’s a knockout. The sleeves, however, detract from the overall balance and make the dress look too top-heavy, But that could just be because it’s static and it actually looks better in motion.

    I’d probably like it more if it was displayed as a complete ensemble on a full mannequin: makeup, hair, cloche, ’20s shoes. Miss Phyrne Fisher could indeed pull this off and look fabulous, as always.

    It’s a tough one to grade. 8/10

  11. Rachel says

    I think people are right that this would look better in motion than inert on a mannequin. I like the details – maybe not all together – but individually they’re really nice, especially the big sweeps of embroidery on the sleeves. The color is gorgeous, and the skirt’s length and shape are very appealing.

    I get tripped up on the super blousy top + dropped waist though, and overall the dress feels a little too busy. I’m okay with each element separately, but not joined as they are here.


  12. Lyn Swan says

    Bohemian influenced…color is just lovely as are the sleeves and white embroidery. There is a bit of a disconnect between the finish elements of the top (peasant drawstring) and the more elegant bottom. I agree with the writer who commented that it might look better on a living model than on a static mannequin. 8/10

  13. Lynne says

    10 out of 10.

    I love the embroidery, the colours, and the wonderful hang of the sleeves. The traditional embroidery, in this simple colouring, enhances the simple lines of the 20s dress. The pleats are splendid – I agree the dress would look even better on a moving person.

  14. I like it a lot apart from the sleeves which I can’t quite work out. Nice shade of blue. extremely wearable, beautiful smocking, the pleating on the skirt is just gorgeous. Love the peasant vibe which gives it a very timeless vibe. Very elegant and relaxed and graceful – and then there are the sleeves. The embroidery is fab but I can’t quite relate it to anything else in the dress and it doesn’t quite “belong.” The sleeves are just too confusing. But I do like the dress a lot and I bet it moves gorgeously. So I’ll say 7/10.

  15. I think the color is fine, and I like the restrained use of the embroidery, the smocking at the dropped waist, and the fine pleating. But the sleeves look weird–sort of a cross between a full, gathered at the wrist sleeve and a hanging sleeve. And the neckline, though certainly redolent of the peasant blouse cut, doesn’t work well with the sleeves. I think ordinary close-fitting straight sleeves might have worked better, even with the extreme blouseyness through the torso. A 7.

  16. Like others mentioned, I love the individual elements but cannot quite get behind the dress as a whole.
    Individual elemtns would all get 10/10, but the dress as a whole I’m super undecided on. 7/10? I feel like I’m giving lots of sevens to lots of dresses.

  17. Grace Darling says

    Very pretty with the combo of folkloric and Fortuny.

    The ties at the neckline and cuffs look too much like string though.

    Puts me in mind of an outfit to demonstrate the functions for a new whizz-bang sewing-machine. Not really intended to be worn by a people.


  18. Too much going on for my taste. Gathered neckline AND some intense dolman sleeves? No thanks. I think that the embroidery and the color are nice, and smocked skirt could have done well with a simpler top half. However, I’m sure that the woman who wore this was fascinating. 5/10

  19. Caroline says

    I have to vote on this one! For once I can actually make up my mind about a rate-the-dress-dress; I love it and I want it! It looks comfy yet festive and even though it’s the 20’s, it’s not (as another voter said) what directly springs to mind when thinking of 20’s fashion.

    I’d seriously like something like this to wear to a New Years party…


  20. Love the basic idea, but the loose sleeves freak me out :/ Love the pleated skirt and the embroidrey, but hate the tassle in the neck :/ This dress is a big yes and a big no in certain points. So I’m quite confused, how to rate it, perhaps 7/10 would be fair enough…

  21. I don’t hate it, but I don’t think it really works. There’s something really strange about the overall shape, and embroidered neckline with its bit of string just looks ridiculous.

    I like the idea of the sleeves, but something about them is a bit off, and I don’t like the white embroidery on blue colour scheme. The embroidery itself is nice, I just don’t like it in these colours.


  22. There can’t be very many people this would look good on (and even fewer women…) It’s just way too top-heavy: like it started out as a flowing peasanty gown and then got attacked by a deranged smocker and came out as a classy pleated skirt.
    The elements are all beautiful, they just don’t belong in the same garment.
    4/10 because the materials are lovely.

  23. Letthemeatcake says

    I like the Bohemian set in the 1920s. ( here someone who could afford it). 7.5

    • letthemeatcake says

      ….so might be more of a bourgeois Interpretation of it.

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