Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: (almost) Wartime Paisley

Last week I showed you a natural form gown with an almost unnatural amount of ornamentation and trim.  You admired the skill of the dressmaker, which is hugely responsible for the 7 out of 10 the dress managed.

This week’s Rate the Dress is a frock I’ve been meaning to feature for quite some time, partly because I’ve never decided exactly how I feel about it.  And I’m not going to figure that out tonight, because I’ve got acute coryza (because calling it nasopharyngitis just sounds affected 😉 ) + the aftereffects of spending the weekend up a scaffold paint stripping our house.

In other words, I’m dumb, and I hurt.  Everywhere.

So be brilliant for me.  Point out all the interesting (good or not) things about this gown.  The Museum Rotterdam dates it to 1913-17, but I’d put it a  little earlier – 1910-13 is a bit more likely.  Other than that, it’s up to you.

Cream-colored silk dress with paisley print and embroidered tulle bodice insets, 1913-17, Museum Rotterdam

Cream-colored silk dress with paisley print and embroidered tulle bodice insets, 1913-17, Museum Rotterdam

What do you think?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Delicious. It is exotic, sensual, comfortable looking, I love the whole thing. But I am sorry you are sore! It’s a big, stinky job all right!
    10/10 for the dress. And for dedication to house painting xo

  2. Jenny Wren says

    Beautiful! Look at the draping on that paisley collar! There’s been a good run of corkers lately. 10/10!

  3. Overall it’s a lovely creation, and I particularly like the subtlety of the fabric combination.

    My one caveat is the collar, because even though the drape line is graceful, the total effect strikes me as heavy, with either too heavy a fabric or too much of a lighter fabric.

    8.5 of 10

  4. Beckajo says

    I love the bodice of the dress – it’s a good use of the fabric and the shoulders are not overwhelming – but I’ve having a quite visceral reaction of HATE towards that skirt. I think it’s because it looks sloppy – as if the dressmaker ran out of the white fabric, and tried to make it work anyway, by pulling it tightly over the hips and letting the split be awkward. Augh. It would like better without the skirt draping that way. I’d give it a 10 for the bodice and a 2 for the skirt, so overall I’ll assign it a 7/10 as an ensemble.

  5. I like it, but don’t love it. The paisley bits in the skirt and on the bodice add nice visual interest and the style of the dress is quite fashionable for the early 1910s years. I’d wear it. 8/10


  6. I agree about the dating – it bears a close resemblance to a 1911 wedding dress that I have a photo of. I like the use of the paisley – the diagonal lines echo the drape of the skirt. Is it my imagination, or is there a narrow border around the back of the hemline to match the sleeves? I wonder if it was made from one of those enormous 19th century shawls, with narrow borders along the sides, and heavier designs at each end – if so, that’s a very inventive re-use of fabric! 9/10

  7. Julia Ergane says

    I love it! Ivory and lavender and a huge picture hat — just yuummy. This is one of the looks I really like for summer — and it reminds me of all those wonderful French portraits. I love it so much that my score is 10/10

  8. I’m going to be the odd ball. At first blush, it looks nice but then I started to look at the skirt, the bodice, the sleeves….it looks like an awkwardly wrapped sari with a tablecloth around the waist. It looks like someone took the pallu and wrapped that around the neckline tightly, leaving some of the main part of the sari for some quicky sleeves and a skirt. Then, to hide any unsightliness, they took that 50″ square tablecloth off the end table and wrapped it around the underbust/waist. I mean, if it were a quick costume/garb, it would be fine but I wouldn’t give it more than a 5 out of 10.

    • Heather says

      I agree. It looks like linens some kid safety pinned together to play dress up (as I used to do with my great grandmothers 1910s era petticoats and tablecloths)

  9. I love it! So elegant and silky and lovely and cool on a hot summer’s day.
    I don’t know that I could give it full marks, but it’s a 9/10 from me.

  10. I love it, it would be delicious at a summer garden party drinking ices while watching a tennis match. You certainly couldn’t play tennis in it though. I like the subtle colours and the skirt is lovely. The draped bodice would give the impression of assets even if you weren’t well endowed and the whole thing is just beautifully balanced.

  11. Mal says

    I have reservations about the stiffness of the bodice drape. That being said, I know straight weave silks can look stiffer with age. It could also be the slightly lower angle of the photo making the top look a bit disproportionate. All things considered, would wear for afternoon outings anyway.


  12. I like it. Elegant, subtle & understated without being boring. I do agree with previous commenters that the collar is a bit ‘heavy’ for the rest of the dress, and the outer skirt does hang a trifle awkwardly, but 8/10 from me anyway.

    On a completely unrelated note, does anybody know what two 50cm long ribbony tapes on the inside of a winter coat are for? They’re both attached to the lining just below the right armhole, and the only other clue to their purpose is a thread bar at the same height on the inside of the left front. Any help warmly welcomed!

    • Lynne says

      Put one tape through the thread bar, and tie the two tapes to form a bow or a one-looped slip bow just under the armpit with the loop. Then fasten your coat with the buttons or whatever is provided. The bow must be under the armpit/at the side. It should not show when the coat is undone, one should only see the two tapes going across. (They used to be made in the lining material.)

      This improves the ‘sit’ of the coat, pulling the back in, and letting the front be looser. Don’t tie it too tightly – peer at the ‘sit’ of the back in the mirror before tying it.

      • Thanks for your help! Unfortunately I may be a bit dense, as I can’t quite figure out how it works.
        One tape through the thread loop, the other around behind me, joining at the left side – is that right? I’ve tried that and it doesn’t seem to leave enough for a bow – not when the fabric’s so slippery.
        I don’t quite see how it is supposed to pull in the back of the coat when it’s only attached at the right side (stitched on) and through the loop at what is basically the centre front (when the coat is closed). Is there a thread loop missing from the left somewhere?

        • Lynne says

          My bad. This is one of those things easier to do than to explain.

          Hold the ties in front of you. No going round the back. Both pass over your front, and then you go through the ‘one through the loop, then tie’ routine.

          It doesn’t pull the back of the coat in, just makes sure it doesn’t swing back. The idea is to keep the side seams straight up and down at your sides.

          There should be only one loop.

          • Oh, I see! Thanks for the extra-simplified explanation 🙂
            It’s a lovely old coat (possibly from the 60s – not sure, but it does have a fur collar) and I shall enjoy wearing it in the historically accurate manner.

  13. Lynne says

    Firstly, it is paisley, and I have possibly seen a paisley I didn’t like, but I can’t remember it off-hand. And it is a big, sinuous, yet subtle paisley. The colour of the paisley is a clear but gentle mauve, and, I think, green, very fresh and light.

    I do like the restraint that has been shown in using a plain, light coloured (white? cream? pale mauve?) fabric for so much of the skirt and bodice. The way the paisley sections are folded in a sari like way, appearing at the front, is really clever.

    The shawl collar also pleases me. It allows for the showing-off of the paisley and colours, and it is softly draped. It would “furnish” a small bust, and decently conceal a larger one (I look for these things!) The sleeves are of a similar length to those of the tops worn under saris, and feature an edging of part of the paisley. Restrained.

    The whole thing is a lovely, cool, easy to wear summer dress – of its period. I agree that it would be from the early end of the date range.

    9 out of 10.

  14. It’s okay. Not really exciting. A very sweet dress but a bit boringly nice, to be honest. I do like the large paisley bands and if they were any brighter it might look dreadfully gaudy. Actually it is nice, and on the right person it will work well and allow her to express herself as opposed to being worn by her clothes. This needs a person in it, but I think it works very well as a perfectly nice, elegant, gracefully proportioned, tasteful summer evening dress.

    7/10 – the default score for “nice but a bit meh.”

  15. I love everything about it. It is feminine and perfect for summer days spent in fields cutting reeds for baskets, chasing butterflies or painting watercolor scenes.

  16. I’m in agreement with Daniel, for once. Despite the lovely draping on the bodice the dress as a whole is “nice but a bit meh”, and I also give it a 7.

  17. I love the draping at the waist, and the movement of the white fabric. The paisley however… while I usually love paisley, this one seems a little washed out, I find it falls boringly int he skirt and is wayyyy to heavy at the top. Maybe it would work better with a solid fleshy model wearing it, so I’ll give it a 6 out of 10, with the benefit of dougt that it might look better on someone a little lrger than the mannequin.

  18. Laura D says

    Love it, and so does Nikki. So two 10/10 from us!

  19. Barbara Stevens says

    I have my doubts about this dress. I do wish that we could see the back as well – the all-round view often changes my perception of a garment. After all – the back view is seen as much as the front by all except the wearer! There is an awful lot going on up top of a fairly minimal skirt. I give it a 7.

  20. There’s nothing about it that I dislike, but there’s nothing I really love either. Overall it strikes me as nice, but a little dull. But having said that, I like the use of draping and the Paisley fabric, and I think the shape is elegant. 8/10

  21. Oh dear. I just finished reading the HSF/M Challenge #5 on Practicality and the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this dress was that it’s a great dress to wear knocking around the house; stateside for light housekeeping, flop on the sofa, put your feet up and read a book, humm, polish my nails or bake chocolate chip cookies. It’s a great house dress!
    So I’m disqualifying myself from voting due to Leimomi posting the Challenge on Practicality before she posted “Rate the Dress”. It’s your fault girl…..you know Leimomi, if you put on the dress, flop onto the sofa, paint your nails instead of the house and eat a chocolate chip cookie some of the soreness might go away…. ; )

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