Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1930s Tangerine lace

Whether or not you liked last week’s 1890s Rate the Dress ensemble hinged very much on how you feel about three  things: bright cherry red, big lace dickey-collars, and BIG sleeves.  For most of you, even if you really liked one or the other, all three were a bit much, bringing the rating down to 7.5 out of 10.

This week I’m toning things down a little: going from red to orange, and from enormous sleeves to sleek 1930s.  This dress, which was sold by Whitaker Auctions in their Spring 2013 sale, combines demure and assertive, with delicate floral lace in bold tangerine orange, and a figure-hugging silhouette with sweet ruffled collar and an optional jacket.

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Without the jacket the dress is sleeveless, with a ruffled bib collar, and a slim skirt that flares at the hem.

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

The back of the dress plunges in a deep, spine-revealing V.

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

For a bit of coverage, the ensemble includes a matching jacket with cut-on sleeves and a sparkling button to fasten.

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Evening gown, lace with satin under dress, sold by Whitaker Auctions

What do you think?  Do you like the balance of bold and delicate?  Does it help this outfit to stand out from the standard clingy, lace, back-baring 1930s evening frock?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. This dress stands out, all right. I just wish I thought it stood out in a good way. 🙁

    Let me start with the color. It’s …flaming. It feels even louder than last week’s cherry red, even though it’s orange which in theory is a paler color.

    But flaming orange floral lace? There’s something about it that triggers my “bad taste from the 1960s” sensors. I normally like 1930s styles, especially in women’s evening wear; usually they’re sexy without being vulgar. Although I see some of the body-loving drapeyness I usually like in 1930s wear, there too big a dollop of 1960s dowdiness (especially in the floppy matching jacket) for me to be able to give this one much love. (The orange lace floppy things over the breast areas of the gown itself don’t help, either.)

    A 4 out of 10 from me.

  2. Lori Watk says

    Flaming! It appears more red then orange, but it is reddish orange. I like the skirt, I’m not fond of the jacket or the lace on the neck. Love the back though.

    I’ll not rant this week, love the back, hate the front.

    Split the difference for a 6 out of 10.

  3. Like the back and the skirt silhouette. Do not care for the floppy addition to the front, and the jacket seems dowdy.

    Even though I do like that particular shade of red-orange, it does not work well for me as a lace – it seems somehow contradictory.

    6 of 10 seems about right.

  4. Rachel says

    For a long time, I didn’t have much use for 1930s women’s fashions, but lately I’ve really fallen in love with them. I know they get accused of being boring, and though I can see why, I don’t think it’s fair to discount them because of that. It’s not as if the New Look or the shape of a 1920s sheath is all that innovative these days, and it’s not like a dress must be novel to be beautiful – or effective.

    I love the orange lace for the exact reason you cited – it’s bold and delicate. Orange lace sounds really tacky, but this dress avoids it, and the saturated color plus saturated lace texture serves that (so 30s and boring and lovely!) fluted skirt very nicely – It doesn’t need a more structured/embellished design; it lets the dress coast over the body but keeps it from looking unfinished or like a slip. This is yet another dress I’d like to see in motion.

    The jacket with its wingy sleeves and peplums is punchy and a lot of fun, though I’m not sure if I’d prefer it in a contrasting fabric. But absolutely no love for the bib – it kind of gives the bodice a flayed look. Given that it’s the dress’ one embellishment, it also makes a big impression.


  5. If it weren’t for the breast flaps, this dress would be okay. As is, the color is a bit too bright for my tastes but I have seen ladies – particularly those who are dark skinned- be able to pull it off well so it’s not an immediate concern of mine. It really is the breast flaps – is this a nursing dress trying to make the nursing flaps look feminine? Because, if so, it fails at that. Get rid of those and my vote would be much higher. As is, 4/10.

  6. holly says

    What a fantastic shade of tangerine. If you had said “orange lace dress” without seeing the picture, who would have known the outcome could be so spectacular? It would improve with the removal of the droopy bib on the bodice. Despite that, it’s 10/10 from me.

  7. Meh. I’m not keen on orange although this is a nice shade of marmaladey orange. The dress is pretty, but I feel like I’ve seen lots of little lace 30s frocks just like it. so I am a bit bored by it. It looks nice on the figure, even if her bottom does look a bit like two oranges squeezed in a fruit net. Nice dress for a wearer, so it does its job, but personally I find it devoid of interest beyond an initial “oh, orange.” and a secondary “oh, that’s the mannequin’s bottom” and then… just shrug, I guess.

    6/10. It does its job. It’s cute and looks great on a figure. And it’s a peppy and zingy orange which is worth an extra point on top of the super-neutral 5/10 score. But it doesn’t really enthuse me at all.

    • Hehe. Someone finally figured it out! Nope, we’ve already done red, pink, purple, blue, green and yellow if you work backwards. So now I need to decide on something totally random for next week. 😉

  8. Stephanie Madill says

    Yuck! I like the silhouette and nothing else. It just says look what I made in home ec from grandma’s 1960s curtains to me. 2/10

  9. I actually like this dress better without the jacket. I think the lace was the perfect material to cut this design out of to make it something “different”. However there is something off about it to me that I can’t put my finger on. 7 out of 10

  10. Kaela says

    I’m so shocked at all the poor ratings. I actually love this dress. Orange makes me happy, and I think the silhouette is elegant. I even like the bust drape. 10/10

  11. Kathryn says

    I agree with other commenters about the breast flaps and the bolero. Frumpy. But i bet if those two features has been done in the exact same colour, but in a drapey silk crepe de chine, the effect would be awesome. What can I say, my mind craves contrasting textures!

    I love the colour, though, and the back of the skirt is glorious. Hard to tell with the lace, but it looks like the back of the shirt angles upwards into the sheath part, while the front of the skirt angles downwards from the sheath. (Make sense?) I am choosing to beleive this is the case, because I love that idea. And with this possible delusion in mind, 8/10

    • Kathryn says

      Hm, another look makes me think that the skirt is angle downwards at both the front and back, and upwards at the sides. Still awesome. Either way, I get the impression that there are some very interesting seamlines going on here. Also, any idea what fibre the lace might be made from?

  12. Lynne says

    The only thing I really don’t like about this is the floppy frontal frill. I like it better with the jacket – I’ll bet I wasn’t the only person to click on the link right on that zinger of a button! It pulls the whole thing together. Pleasing peplum, effective baby batwing sleeves. And I do like the colour.

    The thing that sent me off down memory lane was the skirt. I particularly like skirts with that ‘point at the front’ flare. I played dressing up in an evening dress of my mother’s when I was about ten, and it had a skirt just like that. The dress could possibly have been late 1930s. Makes me feel guilty that I didn’t save it!

    8 out of 10.

  13. Tara says

    I ADORE this dress. I’m not inspired to do something like this with a pattern I have that’s very similar.

    I may not be able to pull off this color, but it works for this dress. Lace that’s black would look like funeral wear. White or cream would look like a doily. This is bold.

    The breast area ruffles are perfect for someone like me who is, shall we say, less than overly endowed. It’ll help add a few faux curves.

    The length is perfect for evening wear. (I might just do this for my boyfriend company’s formal holiday party, but in aubergine with a black jacket.)


  14. Tracy Ragland says

    Love-love-love the silhouette! I would like it even better without the floppy neck flaps. Then tone down the aggressive color a bit and it would be perfect. As it is…7/10

  15. Uhm. Hm. I am not sure. I like the colour, it sure wouldn’t suit me, but I do like it. I like the lace itself, I am not sure about the whole dress in this lace though, but I think on a very tall slender person it could work. I also like the general silhouette of the dress with the flared skirt and V back neckline. I do not think I can become friends with the outrageous “details”: that bib ruffle and that wide jacket. Which leaves me with an overall impression of 4/10.

  16. Kirri says

    It is stunning! I love the colour, although it would only suit some complexions. It is bright yet deep and dark enough for real depth in the tone.

    The lace gives it a lovely texture as well.

    But above all else is the shape – the gentle flare to the skirt, the neat jacket, the soft neck ruffle and the plunging back! Wow definitely one of my favourites 10/10!

  17. 10/10! I covet this dress. So perfect for a summer evening dress in hot climates! It mixes girly and elegant beautifully.

  18. Heather says

    I love it, that is actually one of my favorite colors. The cut is great, and though I do like it without the jacket better, I would wear it if I had the figure for it. 10/10

  19. Anna says

    This dress is too much. Honestly the color reminds me of those safty vests and most look ghastly in it. But supposedly there’s someone whom it suits. The color this flashy sould be enough of a decoration by itself. But no, lets add lace. Lots of lace. Forget it, lets make it whole out of lace. And jacket too. As if that wasn’t enough, someone gave it a ruffle. 2/10

  20. Stephanie Gisseman says

    I really like the silhouette — it’s quite elegant. I don’t think the lace pieces at the neckline are too bad when the jacket is on the dress, but without the jacket they look like a bib. I think the jacket and lace pieces at the neck kind of blunt the elegance of the evening gown and would be more appropriate for a day dress….in fact, this silhouette with the jacket and a shorter skirt would be a great daytime look. A simple rounded neckline would be better. Love the V in the back, and the soft flare of the skirt. But the color is a bit too much for me. 5/10.

  21. Lyn Swan says

    9/10 The color is lovely for one who could wear it. Simple and sleek, I love this style with the titillating plunge in the back and gored flared hem, great to walk and dance in. The lace material is delicate without being frilly. The jacket gives the option for a different look…a bit more demure and might, as suggested, give one the option of wearing this during the day.
    The drape collar is a quintessential mark of the time and in that context is fine. If I was my 20 years ago self, I would love to wear this, maybe in a different color or shade.

  22. Landgirl says

    Ag! This is what I would call a properly stunning dress. 100,000 out of 10. It’s incredible in every way. Colour wise I favour reds and oranges, this is a perfect mix of the two. And the cut is incredible, i bet it would be really comfortable, the 30s designs benefit from good physical proportions in the wearer, but being only 5 ft 2 and not thin I have tried on some 30s gowns and felt ridiculously good in them. The low back would be the only challenge as I need a bra. The jacket is a flattering length, and I bet even the sleeves wouldn’t be as un-gainly in real life. I would need to loose a few pounds to get into this, but I would wear them both in a single fluttering heartbeat.

  23. Claire Payne says

    I love the line of the jacket. The dress is okay but I don’t like the bib collar. As for the tangerine lace….not something I would want in my wardrobe. If only the jacket was lace and not the dress too. It is lace overload for me and the orange just makes it worse. Still, it is a 1930’s dress which is one of my favourite decades so 6 out f 10 from me.

  24. I feel like this is a dress that started out good, and then a lot of bad decisions were made when actually making it.

    The good thing first. The general shape of the dress is gorgeous and elegant, and the little jacket does a good job in toning down the elegance of the dress if you feel like that. I really like the 1930’s silhouette. After that though it went downhill. First bad decision, lace. An all-over lace dress needs a more delicate lace, this makes it more look like reused table cloths again, and reused table cloths that you wanted to spice up you so tried to dye them yourself. I really can’t stand that colour, except on sport jerseys. I think it stands out a lot more than last weeks bright red, and it’s not in a good way. To finish off the dress there is that ugly bib flap, that looks like an extra napkin has been tacked on the front.

    This can’t be anything but a 3/10 from me.

  25. Sixer says

    6/10 as is. The dress has wonderful lines and, though the front frill is odd, it’s not out-right hideous. What’s more it, looks like something you’d expect on a normal, non-lace non-orange dress even today. Of course, the wearer’s fullness would influence my opinion of it – but that’s obvious. As is the need for a slip.

    The worst part of the dress is the jacket. You do not wear this color (in lace, no less) unless it’s bright enough outside to blind people, so the jacket, besides ruining the smooth lines of the dress, looks out of place. The combination of jacket and front frill is so peculiar, it would knock this clementine down to a 3. Since the jacket is removable, I’m giving it a wearable 6. Though now that I think of it, I bet that frill would be easy to remove too . . . . . .

  26. I like the silhouette without the jacket, as other people have mentioned, the color and busy lace pattern are a bit much! I can look beyond the flaws and say overall I like it! Would I buy it at the store if I needed a formal dress? No, I don’t think so. 7/10

  27. I’d like it a lot more without the ruffled collar, but the tangerine lace appeals to me as a concept, if not as something I would wear. I actually don’t much like the style of the lace and if it was any other colour I’d hate it, but in tangerine I’m kind of okay with it. The overall design is nice and its simplicity is a good choice considering the fabric. 6/10

  28. Grace Darling says

    I ‘ve just inherited from a friend’s estate, a tangerine slinky halter-neck dress from the 1970s that
    could pass as an underslip for a dress like that.

    Can’t beat a classic silhouette. Love it, want it, too fat to wear it! 10/10

  29. Lylassandra says

    Eeeew, this dress is hideous. The color is awful, and I’m 90% sure I’ve seen that poly lace at Joann’s. Ugh. And then there are boob-fluffs and a grandma jacket?

    2/10, and I’m not sure why I’m even going that high. Maybe it’s pity.

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