Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: mid-18th c Masquerade

Last week for Rate the Dress I presented a Dress-Off: two Lanvins from the same design, but with slightly different cuts and finishes. The vast majority of you found the dress in the foreground to be the more successful frock: more balanced in its cut, and the sleeve and neck designs.  Only two people rated the dress behind better.  Even in the less preferred design, Lanvin pulled it off, and both dresses rated well, with the dress in the foreground  coming in at 8.6 out of 10, and the one behind it at    7.3 out of 10.

This week, since it’s Halloween, we’re rating a fancy dress: or, possibly a theatre costume.

The woman in this painting is usually identified as Eva Marie Veigel, Mrs David Garrick.  Neither the sitter nor the artist have been completely verified, but she certainly bears a resemblance to other known portraits of Eva Marie, who was said to have been one of the most beautiful women in Europe (granted, this is an appellation that occurs so often in period biographies  that it must have been applied to at least half of the women in Europe in the 18th century!)

If this is Veigel, it was probably painted shortly after her marriage to Garrick in 1749.

Eva Marie is shown holding a mask, and dressed in an outfit that suggests a nod to Oriental dress, with a long, sleeved waistcoat, and a short-sleeved ‘Turque’ or ‘Sultane’ style over-jacket.

The outfit could be standard 18th century masquerade dress: a popular choice for portrait attire, or could hint at Eva Marie’s profession: as a dancer, and actress.

Fetishising other cultures in costumes is no longer quite the done thing in modern society, but in 18th century Europe adopting Oriental dress was a way to show off your intellectualism  and wealth.  It indicated your knowledge and awareness of the wider world, and your ability to afford the luxury fabrics of the east.  Has this outfit succeeded?  Is it beautiful, and interesting? What do you think of her ever-so-slightly exotic fancy dress?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Love it as a whole. Love the color combination. Love the judicious use of trim.

    I would be happy to adapt the over-jacket to wear today, “cultural appropriation” be damned. It looks comfortable and the ideal thing to wear over turtleneck and pants.


  2. Julia Ergane says

    1749, M’dear, not 1849. As a fancier of a la Turque, I would think this an early example as it is not as loose in the bodice. In fact, the bit of militaryesque/masculine is intriguing. I like the colour combination. 9/10

  3. Deanna says

    I wouldn’t have expected that warm copper-gold, almost metallic, fabric to be so effective with the blue and off-white satin, but it is. I like the bit at the cuffs which ties it all together. All the trim looks pretty and feminine, even while evoking military uniform. It’s all very nice, yet I don’t find it truly striking. Rating 8.

    There seems to be something a little unfinished-looking about the hand and ruffle in the foreground. It makes me wonder if that spot had to be restored at some point.

  4. There are dresses that puzzle me, there are dresses that repulse me, there are dresses that look quite pretty to me. And then there are dresses where I start to wonder where I could get the fabric, trim and pattern to copy them. This one is the latter.

    It appeals to me in its shiny satin-ness, its understated but not too understated trim, its nod to the riding habits, its anticipation of late 18th century fashion and its color scheme. I won’t do a reconstruction (because if I did it with every dress that evoked that feeling I would be very busy.) but I swear the jacket wants a modern-day adaption as comfy lounge wear. 10/10

  5. I actually don’t really like this colour combination, not sure why not, because it ought to work, but I think the mustard/yellow is a bit too dingy and heavy against the clear blue, and the trimming doesn’t quite elevate it either. The white satin skirt is lovely but there’s not quite enough contrast here to please me. I like the cut a lot, and the overjacket is quite unusual. To be honest, without the commentary, I don’t think I’d have noticed it as Turkish or anything-influenced in particular.

    So, it’s nice, but I’m not really wild about it. 6/10.

  6. I love the colors in this outfit; the soft blue and orange work well with the cream-colored skirt. If this outfit has a flaw, it’s that, despite the gold braid on the jacket and Oriental coat, it’s a tad boring, probably because the skirt is so plain and only the blue jacket is fitted. An 8 out of 10 from me.

  7. Does she have a sort of deflated beret on? Or….some other hair ornament? It looks more casual than the rest of the outfit. But then the over jacket looks more casual than the blue waistcoat, too. In fact the whole effect is rather bits and pieces-ish, but pretty colors. 6 of 10 due to lack of cohesion.


  8. Emilia says

    Oh, I love it. I find the colour scheme charming, and the masculine details are delightful. 10/10, no question.

  9. Hawke says

    Not really overly fond of the mustard, and let’s be honest, I will never rate anything perfectly, but this comes awfully close, so… 9.5/10

Comments are closed.