Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: a Romantic-era recycle mystery dress

Last weeks blue-grey and white late 1870s dress was one of my favourite kinds of Rate the Dresses: one that sparks lots of interesting discussion, quite strong feelings, and hilarious comparisons (personally, I think anything that can be described as Victorian Dalek fancy dress should automatically be ¬†a 10 ūüėČ ). ¬†The feelings, while strong, were very mixed – a solid block of very high ratings, an equally solid block of very low ratings, and a lot people who thought it was, ummm…interesting. ¬†Personally I give it an intellectual 10 and an aesthetic 6, but your ratings evened out at 6.3 out of 10 – I guess the aggregate rating was closer to my aesthetic reaction than my intellectual reaction!

This week we’re rating a dress has done the rounds on pinterest, but where I unfortunately can’t find the original source. ¬†I generally try not to post Rate the Dresses if I can’t credit the collection, but occasionally breaking that rule, and asking for your help in finding the source, is a good way to locate it and make it easier for future searchers to find it.

The only clue I have is that the dress probably comes from a European collection, possibly Czech. ¬†Do you know where it’s from? ¬†(confession: I’ve spent all day on the phone with Applecare and Adobe, fixing issues arising from my hard-drive crash, and I’ve hit the point where I can’t do even the most basic tech thing, so you may find if very easy to figure out where this is from!).

UPDATE:  Many thanks to Daniel for locating the collection!

As there is no source for this dress, I don’t have a lot of information on it, but I can guess a bit by looking at it. ¬†The silhouette and combination of historical and military inspired trims place the dress ca. 1820, but the fabric is not contemporary with the dress. ¬†This appears to be a fantastic example of a 19th century garment made from mid-18th century fabric.

The skirt is cut into panels to create the slight cone shape fashionable in the 1820s, but the wide serpentine stripes of the the fabric were originally intended for a garment that used full widths of rectangular fabric, so the angled panels create an interesting pattern of disappearing stripes.

Personally, I quite like the symmetry of the mannequin being as blank as the dresses background: you cannot rate it on anything but the dress itself.

So how does the dress alone fare?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. facebook.comWell, it does seem to have come from Eastern Europe judging by the Pinterests it pops up on when I do a Google search. It’s lovely and I wish I knew where it’s from! Thought I had found something with “Patrimonio Hist√ɬ≥rico Familiar” but that seems to translate literally from Portuguese/Spanish as “Family historical heritage”….

    On Facebook, Patrimonio Hist√ɬ≥rico Familiar is apparently a fashion institution in Chile…. but they DO seem to use the same mannequin as here!! https://www.facebook.com/patrimoniohistoricofamiliar/photos/ – check out the nun, same wallpaper and mannequin….

    • Going by Google translate & PHF’s facebook page, it may not be a fashion institute. The about us says:
      “Patrimonio Hist√ɬ≥rico Familiar es un equipo formado por tres parientes de distintas ramas de la familia, que se han encargado de recuperar objetos y vestuario de la familia.”
      “Historic Family Heritage is a team made up of three relatives from different branches of the family, who have been in charge of recovering objects and costumes from the family”

  2. Oh, and the dress, I LIKE it a lot! I do feel that there is one missing Brandenburg across the bodice, and that there should be three rouleau straps rather than two – there’s quite a gap between the top two and the echoing buttons on the waistband.

    I actually REALLY like how the rouleau and padding and applied ornamentation is quite plumpy and chunky, it kind of makes the dress feel more “real” and less airy-fairy-ethereal, and is actually very right for the fabric. I also like the effect of the fabric and the disappearing stripes, and with that beautiful shade of blue, not too dark, not too light, it gives the entire dress a very satisfying presence – not too solid, not too flimsy, not too fussy, not too simple, in fact, it all feels very balanced apart from the missing Brandenburg. I like this dress a LOT.

    9/10 – the missing strap does irritate me, but otherwise, a harmony of perfectly achieved balance in a dress – nothing is disproportionate or ugly or eye-catching (missing strap aside), just perfect balance.

    • Djamila says

      What is a “Brandenburg” exactly? I tried to google it but only find search results for the German area “Brandenburg”. Just asking because I live in Berlin (which is all surrounded by the German state of Brandenburg) and it’s pretty interesting that “Brandenburg” must be some kind of special fashion term.

      • Djamila says

        I figure it is what you also called “Rouleau straps”, right?

      • It’s a form of military style banding across the chest, sometimes braid, sometimes straps, sometimes rouleau, suggestive of military uniform decoration.

    • Elise says

      You have the best words.

      I like it, and I think it’s clever how it incorporated the roping (correct term?) at the bottom that holds out the skirt. And I think it’s just swell to incorporate older fabric. I remember a brief period in the 90s when they were using older fabric to make newer silhouettes. I approve.


  3. I quite like the alignment of the stripes from skirt to bodice, and although I agree with Daniel that there seems to be a missing rouleau strap on the bodice, I don’t particularly care for the heft of the padding and ornamentation.

    The silhouette and color combination are lovely, so overall 8.5 of 10

  4. I would like the design better with out the bust straps don’t like the padded hula hoop at hem line either. Color, style, even the striped fabric on skirt is nice 7/10

  5. The dress alone is… odd.

    The striping pattern is interesting, but the particular colors and patterns are not attractive to me. And the padded strap trimming on the bodice is ugly– it looks like the dressmaker took the “ropes” from her luggage to put on the dress. Otherwise, this is a pretty textbook example of an early 1820s dress, which to my taste is not a point in its favor either.

    Clever, but ugly. A 5 out of 10.

    • I agree: my first thought was that it was a dress for one of those tactile-dolls-for-toddlers which is meant to teach them to do buttons, tie bows, fasten snaps, etc!
      Commendable recycling, I hope the original wearer wasn’t disappointed when she wore it, but UGLY.
      Oh, and the blank mannequin doesn’t really help either.

  6. Hawke says

    9/10! I love it, even though I’m not normally fond of this era. It’s quite princessy, but in an elegant way, instead of a gaudy one. My only quibble is the sleeves; the skirt is stiff, and I think it needs soft sleeves to balance it out.

  7. I love the disappearing stripes, and the way the different colours of the fabric have been used to differentiate the skirt and bodice. That’s a great example of re-using 18th century fabric. I’m not 100% sure about the trim across the front, like Daniel I feel there should be three straps, but I don’t dislike the trim. 9/10.

  8. Tracy Ragland says

    The dress is in my favorite colors, so I’m predisposed to loving it…up to a point. I think the padded rope trimmings detract from the overall grace the dress could have had. 7/10

  9. I’m not fond of either the 1810’s fashion, or the 1830’s, but here in the middle between them I can see the blending of one style developing into another, and the result is gorgeous. I love everything about the dress, except maybe the broad stripe on the center front. I would have tried to avoid it, but I can also see the how it continues into the skirt and creates a symmetri.

    9,5/10 from me

  10. Mairi McCloud says

    Oh, love it! The padded piping on the sleeves and bodice is fabulous. The 1820s were delightfully crazy. I’d give this a 10 for sure!

  11. This dress is part of the Patrimonio Histórico Familiar, a Chilean private collection. He has Facebook and Instagram pages.

  12. To me, this feels like a home made dress that used available fabric and the best skills and imagination of the dressmaker. And I think she did a pretty good job. I like the affect of the disappearing stripes, I like the sleeves, and in fact it reminds me of an illustration from a Cinderella storybook. 8/10

  13. Sierra says

    This fabric would have made a magnificent robe a la francaise.

    I dislike the lattice part of the pattern, so it’s unfortunate there’s so much of it right there in the middle.

    I love the sleeves, though. I’ll have to try that on a dress of my own some day.

    Overall I’ll say 8.

  14. Tracy says

    Love it, love it, love it! Practically perfect. I adore the stripes being reversed on the bodice – I think my first impulse would have been to match, not contrast, and I won’t forget how much better it looks than if the stripes had continued up matching the skirt. The sleeves are lovely, too. The only thing I can find fault with is the padding on the bodice straps, and to a lesser extent, the strip around the lower skirt – like a hoop but on the outside, and poofy. I wish the designer had used the fabric from the sleeves and made flat strips instead. But overall, brilliant use of the fabric for a then-modern interpretation. Solid 9.5.

  15. Julia Ergane says

    This is definitely not a dress from the capital but from the provinces — or the colonies; and, it is lovely. Rating: 9/10

  16. Wow, this is my first dress rating post-baby, i.e. 15 months post-baby. Took me a while, and I really missed this part of my pre-baby life! ūüôā

    I LOVE the fabric – so fresh and unusual compared to the multitude of floaty gauzy white/cream dresses of the era.

    I adore the belt with the two buttons – it looks very modern, I think.

    I am really underwhelmed about the fat rope-like bits, no matter where they occur – they just look clumsy, not elegant at all. Very sad, I think, as they don’t do justice to the loveliness of the fabric and lines.

    So, 8/10

  17. I like to make up stories to go with the dresses, to sort of see things through the eyes and heart of the maker/wearer. Here we have a dress that could have belonged to a once well-off family, now fallen on harder times. The daughter is invited to an event and needs a new dress, so she pulls out great-grandma’s dress and uses the luscious fabric to make a new dress in a more modern style. I think she succeeded quite well. There is an imaginative use of stripes, really pretty sleeves which hark back to an earlier period, and an understated use of the fabric for self trimming. I especially like the gold on the sleeves, and wonder if that came from another precious gown or petticoat. Overall I give it an 8/10.

  18. birdmommy says

    It looks a little too ‘loving hands at home/Becky Home-Ecky’ for my taste. 5/10

  19. Angela says

    It is a sweet dress, for a sweet woman who, I imagine, took what she had, and copied a fashion plate. I think the padded and quilty elements are delightfully weird. 8/10

  20. Irene says

    I really like this dress, a lot. The sleeves are beautiful and the color combination is super sweet. I really like the look of the the stripes, too, but those two weird rolls over the chest knock it down a full point for me. I can’t deal with it. 7.5/10 (8.5/10 without the roll things).

  21. Deanna says

    It’s so cute! And just not what I expect from this era. I love seeing the use of earlier fabric. And it’s very pretty fabric, pretty color, love the little flowers and the feathery edge of the blue portion. I quite like the unusual stripe arrangement, although I wish the pattern wasn’t offset so much at the center front seam of the skirt. The overall silhouette is very nice, the neckline is lovely – and those charming sleeves. At first glance some of the padded trimmings seemed a little awkward, but the more I look, it all just seems charming together. The trimming round the bottom of the skirt almost seems like little trees or leaves.


  22. Lalaith says

    I might have given it a ten, but then there are the rope-like decorations and the random gold sleeves.

    7/10, all in all.

  23. della says

    love it….(as I do most every dress you post). 10/10. sometimes i think that reviewers look at dresses with the eye of 2017..?.. i think it very important that the dress is reviewed in the context of its era..

    the hem is extraordinary!

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