Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Pingat does late 1880s monochrome

Last week I showed you an early 1900s lace dress by Doucet.  Generally you liked the romantic lace, and the mix of textures, but while some of you loved it, some of you found it a bit fussy for your taste, and most of you liked it but weren’t wowed by it, bringing it in at 7.9 out of 10.

Just as with last week’s dress, this week’s dress is all about texture, rather than colour. This  Pingat dress in black silk damask, black silk taffeta, and ivory lace might be severe, or boring, but the floral lace, dangling beads on the skirt front, and the textured spots of the silk damask provide contrast,  visual interest, and even, perhaps, a bit of levity.

Woman's dress, Emile Pingat, about 1889 MFA Boston, 2003.141.1-2

Woman’s dress, Emile Pingat, about 1889 MFA Boston, 2003.141.1-2

Woman's dress, Emile Pingat, about 1889 MFA Boston, 2003.141.1-2

Woman’s dress, Emile Pingat, about 1889 MFA Boston, 2003.141.1-2

What do you think?  Boring despite the textures, or too much even with such a simple silhouette?  Or is it spot on?  (sorry!  Sometimes I can’t help myself!)


  1. I like its simplicity, including the subtle spots. I do think that it needs a belt, though; black but in a different texture/material than the dress itself, with a contrasting buckle of modest size. A 9 out of 10.

  2. I find the base fabric absolutely stunning and reminded me of that species of cat (leopard?) that has a black variant. I’m also charmed by the beaded section of the skirt front creating the illusion of an underskirt. 9 of 10.

  3. Rachel says

    I think I found this dress’ granddaughter:

    At least, that’s what the dangling beads made me think of. And like the 1950s lbd in the link, this is such a fun but elegant dress. The spots (they remind me a bit of a black leopard’s/jaguar’s rosettes) are a bit odd, but not overwhelming. The waterfall of beads is fantastic – I can only imagine how it would glitter as you moved around. But again, it doesn’t overwhelm or dominate the dress – it adds to it without making the dress all about it. The semitransparent lace adds contrast without being stark or jarring. And despite its quirkiness, the whole dress feels harmonious.

    This may be my favorite so far. 10/10

  4. I would honestly send the pictures of thise dress to whoever is doing the costumes for Hollywood’s next blockbuster gothic horror movie because for that purpose it would be perfect. That is also my problem with it. A horror movie character’s costume is not really all that appealing when worn in the real world. 8/10.

  5. Brooklynne Michelle says

    I love the stunning use of a interesting fabric, Keep the silhouette simple and let the fabric talk, such a great statement. The floral lace both lightens it and echos the fabric. I absolutely find this stunning and would love to own it…. With on exception, those dangling beads, everything from their shape to their placement is discombobulating to what could be a stunning if understated dress… I sadly feel like the best I could give it is a 7/10 unless it had a beadectomy..

  6. Hm. Not exactly inspiring or enthusing. I’m actually quite shocked this is a Pingat because I would expect SO MUCH MORE from Pingat. The bodice cut is nice, and the silhouette is fine, but the skirt back seems a bit weird. It’s like it bulges in bits and prolapses in others. Not exactly attractive. It seems a bit unsure what it’s meant to be. I really don’t like the effect of the lace on the bodice, it makes me feel like the bodice is straining open over a lace undergarment even though it clearly isn’t. To be honest, it feels provincial and home-dressmaker-made, which is why it SHOCKS me that this has a Pingat label – it doesn’t even come close to anything else with the label I’ve ever seen.

    4/10 – sorry – it is the most uninspired-looking Pingat I’ve ever seen. Even without the Paris label, it’s really just a rather average black frock in rather average looking fabrics – very “good quality” but not exciting – I might be slightly charitably inclined if it were a home-dressmade dress, or made by a small dressmaker, but given that it’s supposed to be by one of my most admired Victorian couturiers, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in it.

    • Oh no, now I’ve noticed the different-fabric sleeves. They’re not a “feature.” They’re just annoying now I’ve seen that the fabric is different. Glad I’d already gone down from my initial rating of 5/10.

      I think I need to remind myself of all the other fabulous things with a Pingat label in them to make me forget this sad little thing.

  7. Erin says

    The jet beads are really unappealing to me and so is the ivory lace on the chest. Both elements seem isolated and unharmonious somehow. The overall lines of the dress are fine but not amazing. Looking again the beaded area seems too narrow in proportion to the ivory bodice. Could this be caused by insufficient support under the skirt in the display? I might like it more with a shift in skirt volume. For now 5/10.

  8. Emma says

    I really don’t like the shape of the bodice somehow, or lace panel in the front. The skirts are okay, except for the beads in front. Generally uninspiring 5/5

  9. Stacey says

    I think the drop beads are awkwardly sized, and even with the full complement they are just distracting, and not in a good way. Black and ivory is always an odd combo to me on anything other than pianos. I guess the starkness of the black really accentuates the warm tones of the ivory without actually looking nice. I’d prefer a cooler yellow or white if we’re going that route, or ivory and indigo or some other colour for which warm yellow is a nice foil for.

    I hate the floral lace pattern. The scale just seems wrong. I quite like the amount and placement of the lace itself, and the floating effect, I think it’s quite balanced and flattering, but there’s too much blank space between the floral motifs for it to feel like it belongs.

    I do love the black fabric. The pattern is fun and an interesting scale, and while I don’t wear a lot of black, I’d love to have a reproduction of this to make something pretty out of.

    I don’t know where to even start with scoring it. I like the -idea- of this dress, but I quite dislike the execution. 6/10.

  10. Belinda says

    As much as I’m not 100% keen on the lace and as much as yes, it’s not a weird and wonderful cut, it’s still a good silhouette and by gum that black fabric! It’s like octopus sucker-marks! Weirdly enough, I rather like the beads too. The thing I find most jarring apart from the lace is that the sleeve fabric is different from the bodice fabric, almost like they’d run out.

    As R mentioned costumes, I can’t help but see this dress as making a fantastic costume for film. I can see Maggie Smith rocking this one.

    On Maggie in a film, 9/10. Not on Maggie, in someone’s parlour, more like 7/10.

  11. Tracy Ragland says

    I like it. I don’t love it, but I do like it. It would be better to my taste of the primary color was a dark blue or green r even brown. The black is so severe. 7.5

  12. linda olson says

    I love the way the textures play off each other and still together, and I love the black and white with flowers and circles and giant drops. There is something a bit off about the design on the front bodice though. It does need a black belt and possibly some jet buttons down the front, because that expanse of lace curtain across the bodice with the thin black choker line at the neck bothers me. I give it 8 out of 10.

  13. Buttercup says

    I quite like it. I like the textured look of the fabric and the lace adds interest. I think it would be more appealing if it was in a richer colour. I can imagine it in red or emerald green. I give it a 7 out of 10.

  14. I don’t mind the idea of beads, but these seem placed a little funny. I don’t mind the color of the lace insertion in the bodice, but it seems ill proportioned. I think if it was a V shape it would look better, mirroring the beaded skirt panel.


  15. I like the simple cut and the details of the different fabrics. I think thats understatement – its a clear silhouette without being boring. 9/10


  16. Laura says

    I actually love this– not too boring for me! And not just because I read too many gothic novels (maybe). The textures and especially the beading remind me of a bird– I think the lace on the bodice adds to this effect — I just want to TOUCH it!

  17. Sixer says

    I love it! It’s a much more glam version of “office wear” – you know, the black skirt and jacket with the white blouse-y thing under it. Similar only, bam! Texture! Movement! Sparkles! I do have some reservations, becasue I’m not totally about making noise. The large polka dots would not be my first choice for a pattern — I like smaller prints, in general. The beads, as almost everyone has noted, are a little strange. To add variety to the conversation: I almost wish they were more obviously placed in gradations (few at the top, deluge at the hem), but mostly the shape is peculiar. Like little daggers of black ice. . . . . And then the sleeves, which I might not have noticed if others hadn’t pointed them out. On the one hand, I think putting them in the dotted fabric would be a bit much, on the other the materiel is obviously not even trying to match the rest of the dress. Dull, dull, dull.

    Still, despite all those minor adjustments, I would still wear this and feel giddy-happy, so 9/10.

  18. Emilia says

    I really love this. It might be Ordinary Mourning, or for an older woman, and it just hits all my gothy pleasure buttons. Love it. Love the beads, the lace, the way the beads and lace add texture whilst keeping the monochrome elegance. 9/10 for me,which might be influenced by the paper on women and 19th c mourning I’m currently writing!

  19. Judi Moseley says

    I think if I were a young lady in the late nineteenth century, and facing my second or third or fourth year of mourning, I’d be thrilled with this dress! If I were a young widow of the period, society might censure me for being a bit too frivolous during mourning, and of course, that would be what I’d be going for. 8/10.

  20. I rather like its simplicity, I don’t like that the sleeves are such a different fabric, would have looked better if it had the same sheen and shade as the main fabric but without the spots and I think the skirt front looks like it’s lost some beads. I suspect that it hasn’t been pressed properly going by how the skirt is sitting at the back, either that or they’ve skimped on underlayers.

  21. Lauren says

    10/10, I love the lines and the fabrics so much. I would want to wear it in a ‘room of my own’

  22. Amie says

    Love this. It would be grand to wear this. 9/10

  23. S. A. Cox says

    Zero from person too young to be named (or have his own email). He says the cuffs are too weird and that everything is too weird. 3 from me; I don’t particularly like the competing black-on-black patterns. They might work better for me if they weren’t as similar.

  24. ProfessorBats says

    This is actually a long -time favorite of mine. It hits on my gothic tendencies, my inclination towards black and white as well as more severe Victorian styles, and I have a soft spot for black on black textured fabrics. In fact, it’s on my “need to make” list. I also like the soft gauzy texture of the sleeves, and the beading on sleeves and collar. I like the clean silhouette, this is one the more graceful examples of bustle to 1890s transition in my opinion. The shape of the open front bodice is flattering, accentuating the hourglass figure.

    That being said, I would choose the ivory lace in a more edgy pattern, I think the big flowers are boring, even though they do match the size and shape of the brocade spots. Maybe that’s the problem, I’d prefer some contrast. I also find the very simple beading on the skirt from panel a bit bleh, especially for Pingat, when you know how many stupendously gorgeous beaded panels the late 1880s has produced. So, a more refined design of beading, rather than spread out dangly bits.

    All in all, 8.5/10.

  25. Bernice says

    I’m extremely late here but I couldn’t help commenting on this dress. I think it’s a real pity that this dress wasn’t popular, because I really like it. Okay, so maybe the circles aren’t really to my taste, but they’re so subtle that they don’t really visibly detract from the dress, and I can just imagine the shimmering effect that this dress might have in candlelight, especially with all those jet (is it jet?) beads.
    This dress just somehow screams historical references to me. The fake underskirt reminds me of a robe à la francaise, the puff of lace just looks like a jabot collar, even though that wasn’t part of women’s dress anyway, and although I know that three quarter length sleeves were popular at that time the little lace cuff looks like an engageant. Also, it’s kind of hard to tell but the bodice looks like it’s separate and doesn’t meet in the middle- which reminds me of 18th century dresses which had a stomacher pinned in the middle. And on the contrary, I think the sleeves in another fabric are nice. If it was in the same fabric it would verge dangerously on being a bit too shimmery- as it is, the eye is drawn naturally to the sleeves and the lace.
    Even thought my vote probably doesn’t count anymore, i would have given in 9/10

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