Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Celebration green in 1912

Last week’s Rate the Dress was  a tailored walking ensemble, ca 1900, with raised detailing, all in one fabric.  There was a bit of discussion about whether it would look better with contrasting details, or in a brighter colour, but pretty much everyone was in agreement that it already looked pretty darn fabulous as it was.  It came in at 9.5 out of 10, which is pretty much a perfect score these days.

It’s definitely pretty close to perfection for me: it desperately makes me want to rush out and buy a bunch of oatmeal wool, despite the fact that oatmeal is possibly the worst colour possible on me (I just go oatmeal all over.  It’s awful.  )

Tone-on-tone was the only (occasional) complaint about last weeks ensemble, so I’m going to test the theme again, and see how it does this week:

This evening gown (according to my ability to translate google translates ability to translate Finnish – if I have any Finnish readers, please do  clarify/confirm/elaborate!)  was worn to an event celebrating the centenary of the Finnish Cadet Corps, on the 16th of October 1912, by Signe Maria Lindh (nee Fabritius, b 1887) who accompanied her husband Lieutenant Karl Axel Alexander Lindh.

The embellishments of the frock are much more elaborate than those of last weeks suit: as befits an evening outfit, but once again the designer has stuck to a single colour, using perfectly coordinated satin to form the sash, bodice draping, and to create echoes of the scalloped edges of sleeve and neckline.

What do you think? If you thought last week needed contrast, is this week the same? Or is the all-in-one colour scheme better with different textured fabrics? Or worse? Or are they both perfection? Or simply not at all comparable!

There is some awkwardness in the lower front, but I think that is just poor presentation: please ignore it.

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Gillian Stapleton says

    Like last week’s dress, beautiful. I really appreciate the subtle artistry of tone-on-tone dressmaking, and the satin scallops at sleeves and bodice front are what caught my attention as particularly arresting on this gown. Absolutely right on the awkward displaying of the front skirt – instead of allowing it to hang straight, it has been wadded out; without this, the train and back skirt would form their correct line. 10/10!

  2. Elise says

    I’m a big fan of tone on tone, because I am not one for embellishments, but I do love detail, so tone on tone it is!

  3. With the exception of the low bow across the back of the skirt, I love the form of this gown–the scallops, the high waist, the draping at the skirt, everything.

    But the fabric is odd. A small patterned fabric in yellowish green for an evening gown? It seems to be a very odd and ugly color, to me. I don’t mind the tone-on-tone aspects, just the weird color. A 7.5 (yes, I mind the weird color that much).

  4. I think a little coordinating color is a good thing in clothing design, but I also think that if you can make a one tone dress look good without the use of contrast color, you are a pretty good designer.

    I agree that the bow on the back of the overskirt looks a little funky merely because it looks like it restricts the skirt circumference. Otherwise I think most of the details are pretty indicative of the period.


  5. Rachel says

    It’s a little froggy. The color aside, the scallops suggest webbed feet, the folds on the bodice feel a bit frowny, and there’s something a little sullen about the embellishments above the train. If anyone out here likes Narnia, this is a good dress for Mrs Puddleglum (not that he got married, but oh well).

    Even so, I really like this period, and the dress nicely showcases what I like – square neckline, embellished sleeves, high trim waist, split overskirt. The sage green is lovely, and keeping it all to one color allows the embellishments to glint out like dewdrops on a leaf.

    Personally, I think I’d still go for a bit more contrast, but I think Mrs Puddleglum did pretty well for herself.


  6. Amy B. says

    I adore this one. I rarely comment on these ((sorry. I do read them.) but this one is perfection. The color is pretty, the patterned fabric is lovely, and the satin detailing is just perfect. Mrs. Lindh must have been the belle of the ball. A lovely dress for a married woman who want to look sophisticated but still youthful. 10/10

  7. A Finnish reader here. This is one of my favorite dresses ever, so it’s 10/10. At least, I love it in these photos – the muted olive green is just beautiful and the embroidered tulle (it’s not a patterned fabric like an above commenter thought) gives it a luxurious look.

    But: I’ve seen this dress on display and was a bit disappointed with the real color: a kind of dull turquoise (a lot bluer than here, anyway). Not sure what the original color had been, as it looked like it had faded over the years, but the dress definitely lost a bit of its magic for me then – and taught me not to trust everything we see in photos like these. (Hmm, 15 years later I’m still on the look-out for the perfect fabrics to make myself a reproduction in the “right” color.)

    (And congratulations, you got the info right with Google Translate. Just one minor correction: the designer/seamstress’s name is Ellen Helin – the Finnish case endings can be baffling.)

    • Deanna says

      Ah! Embroidered tulle! It looked rather sheer and I had wondered if it might be lace. Is there a floral pattern in the embroidery? I can’t quite make out the shapes.

      Thank you for commenting, it’s neat to hear from someone who has seen the real thing.

  8. Lovely silhouette, lovely balance of print and trim, exceptionally lovely and unusual scallop details, lovely (for me) subtle color. Just a half-tick off for whatever-that-is on the rear skirt bottom. 9.5 of 10

  9. Deanna says

    This is very pretty. The bodice is lovely and there is a nice lengthening, sweeping effect from the split overskirt. I like the scallops, which are different than what one usually sees, the colors are beautifully matched, and the patterned fabric is interesting. Wish I could see it a little closer. The overall effect is dignified, but not stuffy. The skirt does look a bit odd below the back bow, but I believe that’s an effect of how it’s displayed, with the front pushed out, and the train rather pulled into a point. The front hem looks a little odd, because there is nothing to give it visual weight (the rest of the dress is all satin-trimmed edges). 8.5

  10. Julia Ergane says

    The discolouration aside (thank you, Eve, for the information on the Tulle fabric — the emboidery really stands out beautifully), I really like this gown. It would definitely be another one for the closet! 9.5/10 (mine would be in teal blue)

  11. Susan B. says

    Perfection, as photographed and shown here. In real life – it may have some minor flaws. But since I can’t see it in person, I’ll go by what I can see, and that is gorgeous.

    It matches my eyes, too, and strongly resembles a circa 1912 sea green China silk evening dress in my own collection, a dress which I once wore to a Playford Ball when there was somewhat less of me. My dress and I survived, and I had a memorable evening. As I am sure did the original wearer of this stunning dress.


  12. Eve: I suppose the “dull turquoise” the dress actually is in person would be worse than the yellowy green shown in these pictures.

    Another of my problems is the print; it looks more like the kind of foulard print you see on men’s neckwear than an evening gown fabric. {There may be flowers in the design, but the geometric background shapes tend to dominate the design, to my eye at least.) I’m trying to think of a color that I’d like better. Peach? Something more interesting than beige, though I’d prefer beige to this color. Light gray? Possibly. Lavender? Definitely. In my opinion, the dress design cries out to be done in a “pastel with character.” Though copper would work too, I think. A small flower print design in copper.

  13. The front is perfect in every way– how graceful and elegant!– but I’m knocking a point off for the back, where the proportions are off and it’s a bit dull. 9.

  14. The bow at the back is hanging awkwardly which I don’t like but I think that might be presentation rather than the dress so I won’t take points (surely a dress wouldn’t be made to look like that, maybe it needs more petticoats?) Otherwise this is pretty much perfect. I love tone on tone and I love olive green (I’m sad that it’s not really olive green, but I have to go by the photographs since I can’t see it in person!) I think the embellishments are tasteful and not over-done. 10/10

  15. I have to say I think the tone on tone is a bit boring in thee photos. But, given the texture of the contrasts and the embroidery on the tulle, I suspect it would have shimmered enchantingly under candle or gaslight. I guess ‘well lit in a digital photograph’ is not really the intended presentation of the dress. I guess it’s a 9/10 for me, then!

  16. I really like the contrasting textures and the front view. I feel it needs a tiny touch of white/cream at the neck and under the flared sleeves (I’m almost sure it would have had lace undersleeves) and it is a nice muted shade of sage green, Comfortable 9/10.

  17. Heather says

    Beautiful, 9/10. I personally love the color, and it’s one of my favorite time periods for style. I wonder if the owner had coloring like my daughter…this is the color that makes her green gold hazel eyes just pop right out and dazzle you. The bow/cinch thibg in back seems a bit odd which is why I gave it a 9.

  18. Hearthrose says

    I like this one very nearly as much as the suit… so because I’d give it a 10 if it were in my favorite colors, it gets a 9

    Can’t you just see a young military wife swishing around the ballroom on her husband’s arm in this dress? More colors would clash with the medals and whatnot on the military men all around her, but a solid, floating dress like this will catch every eye. Well done, Mrs. Lindh!

  19. Hearthrose says

    I like this one very nearly as much as the suit… so because I’d give it a 10 if it were in my favorite colors, it gets a 9

    Can’t you just see a young military wife swishing around the ballroom on her husband’s arm in this dress? More colors would clash with the medals and whatnot on the military men all around her, but a solid, floating dress like this will catch every eye. Well done, Mrs. Lindh!

  20. SO LOVE THIS. I love tonally matched contrasting textures, it is such a sumptuous look. I adore the drape across the bodice front. I wonder if this was discovered as a style one day when a dressmaker attempting to pin a bertha let it fall by accident and thought Lummy, that’s a good look! I adore the scrounded scallops with the multiple rows of satin.
    It is all quite architectural and pleasing to mine eyes.
    The drape across te back of the knees is interesting. From the front one just expects a band, but the bow and the ruching of the skirt into it is just the loveliest touch. A delicious bridge between bustly details and the cocoon type coats of ten years into the future. Transitional details can sometimes be a bit meh, whch I guess is why fashion moves them on to better things, but this I really love.
    10/10. Mind you it is rare that I see a dress from this era that I don’t love.

  21. Charlotte says

    I like this one, but I don’t know if it is just me or if the person who this was made for was very tall and very skinny or if I’m just seeing things… it seems not quite right in some Barbie-esque height way (she’s supposed to be 7 foot isn’t she?).

  22. birdmommy says

    Even though it’s not one of my favourite colours, I love all the details, and the interplay of the different fabrics. 9/10.

  23. Lizzy says

    10/10 Beautiful lines, lovely color with just enough going on to be interesting. 🙂

  24. Lyn Swan says

    9/10 I commented yesterday, but it does not show, so I will try again. The bodice is lovely and would be flattering for many body shapes. I do like the satin trim as embellishment. The color I see on my monitor is a sage green, which I like very much. Thank you to the commenter who has seen the dress as I would not have guessed that it was an embroidered tulle. My only problem with this dress is the hobble and awkward bow on the back of the dress. Anything that restricts movement bothers me. Lovely dress.

  25. Elina says

    A quick translation of the text from another Finnish reader: “This eveningdress made by Ellen Helin in Helsinki follows softly the contours of the body. Trained skirt under a tunic bodice. Thin silknetting with a floral pattrern covers a pale green lining . The shiny silk sating creates the impression of the female body being wrapped up. The neck and sleeves are subtly underlined with square scallops. The dress uses the contrast between light and heavy, see through and opaque materials, which was typical for early 20th century party wear. The large amount of details has been balanced with a flowing all over shape. Some influence of the Japanese kimono can be discerned too. The bodice has a linen vest and the maker’s signature in the waistband.
    celebrations lasted for two days. On the second day of the festivities women were allowed (if invited) to take part in the soiree, which was dedicated to friendship and love. Signe Maria Lindh herself later donated this dress to the National Museum.”
    As for my own opinion, this dress is almost there, but not quite (especially if it gets bluer than this!), so 9/10

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