Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: ’20s plays with paisley

Last week I showed you an 18th century Robe a la Francaise made up in a floral cotton.  It lost some points for the asymmetrical front fastening (which I actually thought was brilliant – it repeated the rococo serpentine line of the dress fabric), and even most of you who loved it felt it was not quite a star of the show dress, giving it an overall 8.4 out of 10.

Since last week’s dress was a formal garment  done in a fabric that we think of as informal, this week’s dress is an informal garment, a playsuit, done in a fabric that we think of as formal, silk.

This simple ’20s playsuit is made from lightweight blonde (unbleached) silk, trimmed with bands of silk printed in an unusual paisley inspired design in turquoise, vermillion and lime green.  The playsuit has a matching tie belt and bolero in the same paisley silk, the bolero further trimmed in the lime.

While the playsuit is identified as Japanese, it was almost certainly Japanese for the Western market – feeding the Western taste for Eastern silks and exoticism.

Let’s take a closer look at the ensemble:

There appears to be foxing on the bolero, and the silk  has almost certainly darkened and browned with age.  There is also a hint of a mend to the silk near the neckline, indicating the fragile nature of the fabric.  The playsuit was probably bought and worn as a limited use item: a fun ensemble for a vacation, unlikely to be worn again, or for a specific event.

What do you think? Is it the perfect bit of sartorial fun for that all-important pool party, or for showing off on the lido deck?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. Aw, I think it’s adorable! It looks bright and breezy and fun and lively. Just really unpretentious and sweet. I love it, especially after all the formal gowns. Very refreshing. Not a great deal to rate, though, and stylistically it IS a bit generic and not the most sophisticated garment, so I’m giving it a 7.5/10.

  2. Practicality rears its intractable head and points out that, unless one’s idea of “play” is mimicking a mannequin, it would gather ad hoc “prints” and “pleats”, so I must deduct a bit for that.

    Even if it’s darkened with age, I like the basic color, but I would also like it in its original shade, but for some reason I don’t like the choice of green for the trim.

    8 of 10

  3. Lyn Swan says

    If I was between 16 and 22 I would wear this! I did make and wear several playsuits and jumpsuits back in the day rather that the de rigure blue jeans and hippie top. I love silk, and to me, the ultimate in luxury is to use a luxurious fabric for a simple garment. The paisley-ish fabric and green trim of the jacket, and that same fabric used as trim on the shorts is just plain fun. I would have felt comfortable and tres chic in this outfit.
    9/10 for lovely fabric and simple design.

    • Elise says

      Right–or if you only had a little bit of the fabric, and thought it better to use it for something at all, then to not use it.

      I give it an 7/10. The balance feels a little off, to me, but I just love the simplicity, and lines of the playsuit.

  4. I like the basic design of it, and the colors, but it seems kinda risque. Those shorts are awfully short. I the design seems rather boring considering it is an item meant to be seen in.


  5. I think it’s lovely – fresh, fun, playful, not tacky or tasteless, nice cut, nice balance between the playsuit and the bolero.
    The colors, I think, are not so hot – the green and the beige don’t really match, but then, as has been pointed out, the colors may have changed/faded.


  6. Rachel says

    It’s darling. Gorgeous paisley, gorgeous colors, a fun athletic cut, even if it wasn’t made for anything but lounging. I think I’d shorten the bolero a little so the top wasn’t so boxy. And making it a contrasting color to the suit itself would have added a bit more punch. But I like it a lot – a little colorful, a little opulent, but still relaxed and insouciant.


  7. 8/10.
    It’s adorable, and so youthful a look – perfect for bouncing around on holiday. I love the bright green trim on the bolero jacket particularly. But its delicateness is a bit of a drawback. In cotton though, this would be a darling summer costume even today!

  8. I’m usually a huge fan of Paisley, but not this time. I don’t particularly like the bolero fabric (though I do like the colours and the cut of the bolero) and the whole playsuit concept in general is one that I really struggle with. Playsuits, like jumpsuits, are not a good look in my opinion. 3/10

  9. holly says

    Sorry I just can’t muster any liking for this. A waste of paisley fabric.


  10. I really don’t like the shape of the bolero jacket and the playsuit leaves me cold
    3/10 and that’s only because I like the paisley fabric and the way it was used to trim the playsuit.

  11. Wildly impractical but kind of cute. The color scheme and style would never work on me but would be adorable on the right person (probably a young, thin person). A 7.

  12. Tracy Ragland says

    What a fun outfit! I give it an 8 out of ten. Points deducted because I think the lime trim is too wide and detracts from the paisley.

  13. lindamae says

    not thrilled. 6. pale silk is too dull and weak for a playsuit like this, and the jacket looks too simple and heavy. The green ribbon trim helps, but not enough. Using a plain hunk of paisley fabric for a sash seems like a cheap match.

  14. Barbara Stevens says

    Just don’t get it wet! Experience has taught me that this ‘blonde’ silk goes transparent as soon as it’s wet.
    Otherwise I think it’s as sweet as any playsuit ever can be – totally impractical but fun.
    Rating : in the world of playsuits 9/10

  15. I like it. I can imagine the wearer in sunglasses with a lime scarf wrapped around her head, sipping a glass of bubbles by the pool.
    On one hand it seems unpretentious but really, it is the ultimate in pretension. It wouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of wears, it is too glam for anyone other than a member of Society, and probably too risque for any other woman to wear. Because it probably never left the lavish grounds of someone’s estate. I love the complementary colours and I love paisleys and botehs in all their variety.
    So, 8/10, because some puritan inner voice doesn’t entirely approve of the waste of good silk on such a flimsy outfit!

  16. Lisa W says

    Yes, yes, and yes! I love the cream and zesty green and would wear this in a flash with some fabulous heeled sandals. It would match the olive in my martini perfectly. 10/10

  17. Elizabeth says

    1/10 because I despise paisley and have no love of playsuits.

  18. HoiLei says

    It’s the whole concept of a playsuit I can’t stand… I find them infantilizing. (I’ve heard the modern versions of them called “rompers” and deemed “very Cali”, but I don’t think that helps their case!) Onesies are for babies, not grown women. And how does the wearer go to the bathroom? Are there little buttons or snaps in awkward places, or do you have to disrobe entirely? (I am reminded of those stretchy 80’s shirts with snap closures right in the crotch area, and how I had to wear them when I was a kid and it made the whole bathroom experience kinda yucky.) The silhouette is fine, but why can’t it be chic shorts with a camisole blouse? Sewing top and bottom together conjures (for me) images of infants and toddlers and bathrooms. I’m actually surprised at how strongly I react against them, considering they’re just clothes, and no-one is making me wear them (anymore).

    On the other hand, I think the use of silk and the pale colors of this particular playsuit raise the rating a bit. Sure, a playsuit is impractical, but so’s a corset, or a bustle, or sleeves that drag on the floor. Clothing isn’t always practical; it has non-functional functions to fulfill. This garment says “I’m rich, and pampered, and I probably just stepped off a yacht, where I generally lounge all day picking up a tan.” It embraces its impractical nature and turns it into a statement. And I do like the paisley and the color scheme. So though my rating is low, it’s higher than I would usually give a playsuit.

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    • There is an option to sign up for an email subscription on the sidebar under Follow Me. It’s the button between the Pinterest and the Email button. 🙂

  20. Lynne says

    I imagine there are buttons at the shoulders. One usually stepped out of these suits when visiting the bathroom. A little alarming, to be sitting there in very little, but it happened with boiler suits, too, and in the winter, and that was perfectly fine.

    It’s a little sweetie. Imagine those colours with a good tan! Yes, to the lime scarf and a glass of something cooling and classy! For lolling, and maybe a little posing, looking cute. For the very slender, and the fairly young. I wonder what size it is?

    7.5 out of 10

    • HoiLei says

      I like your phrasing… “a little alarming”! 🙂 But buttoned shoulders are a lot better than a crotch closure. Or maybe it’s loose enough to just slide in and out?

  21. Johanne says

    Definitely had to sit with this one for awhile. I like it as a nonsensical piece of clothing with its intended use at cross purposes to the fragile material. If that conflict is accepted, it’s charming and would grace any young, slender figure. It just occurred that 1920’s clothing is almost 100 years old! Who was wearing a silk playsuit and where was it worn that long ago with women not long out of corsets? Leimomi, your “Finished project: an utterly adorable 1930s playsuit” of 2012 makes a lot more sense.


  22. I just can’t bring myself to like the colours and the print, although otherwise I quite like the simple shape – it does work better in silk than it would have in a different fabric. But nope, not those colours. 😛 6/10

  23. Grace Darling says

    paisleysenchantedthreads.co.ukCuriously, yesterday evening I met a lady who was born and raised in Paisley, Scotland and
    she told me about the Bargarran Witches who were accused and executed on the say-so of
    a “peerie lass”, who went on to develop a particular thread-making technique in the early
    18th century, and started the Bargarran Thread Company.


    Never underestimate the story a gussied-up pair of witches britches can lead to….

  24. Belinda says

    LOVE. I want to make one for myself! I actually think the green and beige together give a nonchalant feel to it and stop it looking fussy or too put-together, which is awesomely subversive given it’s made of such decadent fabric. That contradiction makes it seem really modern. I wouldn’t blink twice to see it on someone’s modern fashion blog. Mindblowing for the ’20s!

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