Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Jean Patou in 1924

For last week’s Rate the Dress I showed a typical 1930s frock in vivid tangerine orange lace.  Some of you thought that, despite the bright colour, the frock was too standard been-there-done-that 1930s, and gave it a very middling score.  The rest of you either love-love-loved the dress, or really-really didn’t – all of which, not surprisingly, led to a rather mediocre score of 6.6 out of 10.

(and well done to Daniel, for being the only one to notice that yes, I’ve been presenting the rainbow for ratings, but having come back around to orange, rather than re-starting with yellow, I’m now heading off in a new themed direction.)

This Jean Patou evening dress is both extremely  minimalist, in its muted  colour palette and simple cut, and extremely  maximalist in its elaborate Egyptian inspired beading.

While the decorations on the dress are based on Egyptian & Byzantine  designs, Patou has carried them out in pastel shades of blush, lilac  and gold, subverting  our expectations of the inspiration point.

The overall effect combines the typical tropes of Western femininity, with a twist of Oriental exoticism.

How will the combination go over with you, dear readers?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Love the beading love the pattern and love the paneling on the skirt. When you zoom out though most of the detailing is lost! I think it would be better in bolder colors? 8/10

  2. Wow! I like the subtlety of the color scheme and think it moderates the ornamentation in a timeless and lovely way. 10 of 10

  3. I agree with the first comment, would be nicer in bolder colours, peacock-ish for example, I think its slightly washed out in those pale hues. BUT I love the dress and would wear it now so I give it 9/10.

  4. Erin says

    My eye keeps getting stuck on the dark design elements. Is there any chance that those are silver beads which have oxidized? I really like the fluidity of the color gradations in the rest of the beading, but the dark beading reminds me too much of winter branches or dead vines and worst of all breaks up the surface too much. If silver, then I think it would be much stronger.
    As is 4/10
    If silver 8/10?

  5. Rachel says

    This has been one of my favorite dresses for a while. Got nothing fancy to say, but it’s getting a 10.

    (To be more rounded and honest, there’s something hard-edged and flat about this dress that I dislike. It’s not that I dislike hard-edged dresses, but there’s something about this one’s execution. I’m not sure how to articulate it, but it often gives me a mental hiccup when I see it. But it’s still a 10.)

  6. Not bad. The color scheme is sweet, and the design of the beading, though a bit more exuberant than I like, is elegant but scrapes the borderline of excessive. A 7.

  7. The beading is stunning and the dress is beautifully proportioned. I’d love to see this against a dark background as all the paleness rather drains the colour out of it, but it’s still a comfortable 9/10.

  8. The beading is great, the dress is great but the dark beads are bit too dark in comparison with the rest of the dress and beading (which is so light and airy otherwise), so it’s a 9 out of 10. It could be that dark beading was originally silver and it oxidized but I retouched the photos if silver would actually improve it and it’s a no. The light silver beading does not make it a ten either.

  9. Etta says

    Very pretty! The beading is lovely, well-proportioned, and I rather like the darker beads for the sake of contrast. Interesting balance between traditional Western and Western-does-Eastern, which is an effect I find aesthetically pleasing. I’m glad the heavily beaded parts are on panels or pleats in the skirt- there is still some movement.

    9/10, very pretty

  10. Martina says

    10/10. I’d love to see it in motion…I imagine those panels would move so well.

  11. Lynne says

    Swoon! 10 out of 10.

    This is one of those dresses that is of its time, yet wearable now. If you could find an event to provide a setting for such gorgeousness. That beading! The design, the colours!

    The dress itself is so interesting, too. I’d love to flip it upside down (carefully) and see if the plain front panel (under the ‘Look, Ma! I’m an Egyptian! centre piece) is a whole separate underskirt, or is a half/apron attached at a side seam. I really like the effect of the three different hem lines – centre panel, under skirt, main skirt. It gives the impression of Egypt while still being a wearable Western skirt.

  12. I like it. I don’t know that the style would flatter me too much. But I like it anyway.

  13. Lyn Swan says

    9/10 It has all been said…the beadwork is stunning….

  14. I generally like it, but the more I look at it I feel that the beading makes the dress too heavy. Less beading would have been better, even if it’s gorgeous in itself. I also really like the colour choices. Still do it’s not a total hit for me so 8/10.

  15. Elise says

    I’d wear it tomorrow. I would wear it 20 years from now. It’s lovely. Beautiful proportions. Interesting colors.

  16. Susan Robinson says

    While I think the dress is lovely to look at, I always imagine what it must be like to wear the dresses in “Rate the Dress” and this one fails that test. It would weigh a ton (tonne for those us in metric land) and if there is a panel at the back similar to the one at the front, it would be uncomfortable to sit down in. I give it a 7.

  17. Johanne says

    Timeless, beautifully designed and constructed, subtle palette with the beading accentuating the female form. I would like to see it move because it’s waiting to swirl around thighs and legs. I’m kind of gobsmacked by the thoughtfulness and knowledge that went into the execution.


  18. Julia Ergane says

    I would probably like more peacocky colours; but, these are gorgeous, too. 10/10

  19. Zeila says

    It does not stint on real embroidery placed with care and the little dressmaker details that take a garment over the top. However, aethetically, its quite busy and lacks the simplicity of a truly great design. I’ll give it 7/10.

  20. I think it would have looked better against a darker background. And I imagine it sparkles in the light – just gorgeous.

  21. There’s something about it that I don’t like. Something about the combination of shapes that rubs me the wrong way. Too many simple lines in the skirt, compared to the swirliness of the patterns on the bodice? Something like that. It feels too much like a slightly rushed costume that way. Like the same amount of effort that went into sewing the beads on should have gone into designing the embroidery all the way down.
    I just don’t like it as much as it tells me I ought to.

  22. Lori Watk says

    I hate it. I do a lot of beading and the beads are off. There are lines of beads where there shouldn’t be and it throws the entire thing off. I don’t like the color, the beads are off and my eye goes right for it. So I’m going to say 4 out of 10.

    • I get the same vibe from it except I don’t have an empirical background to my feeling. May we “compare notes”? Where exactly do you think it’s off?

      • Kathryn says

        I notice it most in the dark sections of the beading-they are really not symmetrical.

    • Kathryn says

      On closer inspection, I see exactly what you mean. Doesn’t change my rating at all, but you are totally right.

  23. apricots says

    I actually love this and I think the darker beading really highlights the geometric designs, which look like they would sit will on the body. The fine dense beading looks like it would be very obvious in person, and would immediately show off how high-end it is. The multiple hemline look really works as both Egyptian and as Western fashion. The colour palette makes it look very fresh, if you had the colouring yourself to pull it off.


  24. Kathryn says

    I have not one bad thing to say about this dress. It is perfect. 10/10. (Though I am enjoying the discussions amongst people who dislike it-a very interesting thread today! More insights from people who intimately understand beading, please!)

    • Kathryn says

      Thinking about it more, I love how intircate thus dress is close-up, but I also love the way reads from a distance. The top remonds me of a beautiful faded tapestry, and the skirt makes me think of traditional embroidered Ukrainian dance dresses, in more muted colours, of course. Beautiful. Now I’ve talked enough, time to give someone else a turn!

  25. I really like it! I agree that the dark beads seem a bit too dark, but it’s not too distracting. I imagine the dress sparkles in the light and would look stunning in a half-lit dancing hall. I only think the shoulder straps are a bit too thin, like they can’t keep up the weight of the dress (both visually and practically). But I like the shape, the beading is beautiful and I love the soft colours, very feminine and elegant, so a 9/10!

  26. Emma says

    I think it’s really cute. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is how washed out it looks, especially with the few dark bits of beading in there. I wonder though if it would look better if the dummy wasn’t so washed out herself. I suspect that on a real person with a real skin tone it would look much better. 9/10

  27. Stacey says

    I think this dress would look positively amazing set against the rich tones of the era, especially in dramatically lit spaces. It looks surprisingly non-cumbersome for all the beadwork, and I’d love to see it in a styled photo shoot. 10/10.

  28. Anna says

    I’m not a big fan of the 20’s silhouette in general, but i really like the color palette and beading work. Since it’s beads in decolletage area are applied very generously, i doubt it would be the most comfortable garment, but it’s exquisite enough to overlook this minor inconvenience 8/10

  29. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Too late to vote (I’d give it a 9.5) … but one of the 1924/5 fashion magazines I was looking at had a blurb about “The new Pastels”, so Patou was (as usual) setting the trend.

    Not my shades, but on a woman with the right complexion it would be stunning. And a dress you have to see up close to admire: it speaks softly.

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