Rate the dress

Rate the Dress – Rich darkness in 1906 (ish)

I’m having some problems with my hand due to an injury, so I can’t do much computer-y (or exciting sew-y, sigh…) stuff at the moment, so things may be a bit quiet here on the blog front here for the next few weeks.  Not too quiet though – the amazing and wonderful Mr D* is helping me to write this post, and to finish off all the draft posts I’ve had sitting around waiting to publish, so there should still be some interesting stuff.

Last week’s 18th century frothy pink masquerade Rate the Dress was quite popular, although some of you didn’t care for the darker bead (?) trim, while others thought it worked, but needed more black.  You did notice the asymmetry of the skirt, but no one seemed to mind it much.  So Arabella managed a very rosy 8.8 out of 10, with only a few tiny flies marring  the ice-cream sundae perfection of her confection (the spots, not the poor ratings).

This weeks  Rate the Dress is the first thing  I randomly chose from my bookmarked list of RtD possibilities (to avoid irritating Mr D too much) – but it works perfectly, because it looks like it could have stepped right out of the 1906 fashion plates I showed you last week, and the spotted lace under-sleeves resonate nicely with the darker spotting on last week’s pink frock.

This dress appears to be made from a corduroy or some other type of corded velvet.

The spotted net of the sleeves was  particularly fashionable ca. 1905 – it  appears frequently in fashion plates, and I’ve encountered at least three other spotted net sleeves in person in museum collections.

The skirt is a five-gored skirt, similar to the Fantail, but with curved panels, creating the typical bell shape of the ca. 1905.

What do you think?  Do you like the mix of dark and light, heavy and frothy?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

* she told me to write that


  1. Love the corded fabric and the shape of the skirt, but am slightly put off by the spotted net. White or cream spots don’t tend to make me think of disease as a first impression the way the black net does.

    The other quibble is the utterly mismatched lace trim of the sleeves and the neck, as if the seamstress just wished to use up random scraps.

    But it’s pleasing enough for 8.0

  2. Wow, this is the first RtD that I really have not liked. My very first thought was the trim placement on the skirt; it reminds me of a rib cage for the hips.

    I also don’t care for the bodice, because it’s confusing and doesn’t make any sense; the dark vertical striping of the fabric blends with the trim and doesn’t draw the eye anywhere in particular, which is why the hip-stripes are so striking I think – they are directing you, while the bodice sits there and says nothing. There was a bit of an emphasis on the hips in this era, but I don’t feel like the trim is drawing the eye to the right place.


  3. Rachel says

    I hope your injury clears up. That can’t be pleasant.

    As for the dress, it certainly is luxurious, and who doesn’t love a big swoopy skirt? I like how the dark blue scrolly trim plays over both the overdress and the blousy part, not to mention the (I have no idea what they’re called) parallel-line decoration things on the hips and skirt.

    And I like that it has less of that unrelenting lacy frowsiness that bothers me on other dresses from this era. But even so, I don’t really like it. The netting on the sleeves looks scratchy, and the dress comes across as heavy and hot. It isn’t an ugly dress, and it might even be a bit cozy in person. But it doesn’t do a whole lot for me.


  4. Tracy Ragland says

    I’m not in love with the dress mostly because of the shape of the sleeves. They seem to weigh the bodice down. Part of that is the very dark and heavy fabric, but they are also too massive. I’m not a fan of the lighter, floral lace used at the neck. If only the spotted netting was there, it would seem more harmonious. 7/10

    • pinterest.comI agree about the sleeves. I think overall, this would look much more lovely as a more jumper style dress than the heavy dress we see here. I’m thinking more like this dress than what we see here. With most of the corduroy/heavy fabric in the skirt and the bodice being more of the lighter fabric, only straps of the corduroy to bring it together.

      As is, 7/10

  5. Lynne says

    I like it a lot! It’s not unlike the Janet Arnold Greek Key dress in sleeve shape etc, and in the use of lace as an under-sleeve. I like the strong upper-sleeve and the way it gives balance to the whole dress. The neck lace is very pleasing, and I like the main fabric, too.

    Suitably hauled into shape, I’d wear this. It is indeed a dress for a grown woman, as someone said.

    9 out of 10.

  6. Peta says

    I so love that dress. The dark and light, the lace and the richness of the fabric. Beautiful.

  7. Hmm. I don’t think I like it, but at least it’s memorable. For an Edwardian winter, it’s definitely OK. It’s nice in that it isn’t faded rose Edwardian, but I DO think it’s kind of an ugly dress, like a 70s corduroy pushchair (ahem, I may be influenced by subconscious memories) or sofa, not that this is a BAD kind of ugly, it’s quite a pleasant kind of ugly cos I like corduroy. It’s quite smart for the period. I do find the trumpet sleeve effect a bit peculiar as it gives quite an odd shape.

    So. Nice-ugly definitely, weird shape shoulders/sleeves, not convinced by those embellishments on that fabric, erm, I can’t decide if I dislike-love it or love-dislike it. But on the whole, I would give it a 4.5/10 I think.

  8. Tracy says

    Note to Mr D: she was quite correct to give you credit (of course she told you to say that! ), and while your modesty does *you* credit, I for one appreciate your willingness to assist while the Dreamstress is recovering. I can’t speak to how amazing you are, but it’s lovely she declares you to be such; and it is wonderful that we followers aren’t bereft of our fix. So, thank you.

    Note to the Dreamstress: please take care and be better soon! You have my concern and sympathy.

  9. India says

    I took one look at it and the first words that popped into my head were “Lady Bracknell”. Edith Evans would have looked magnificent sweeping onto the set in this. As a dress for a lady of a certain age, a certain attitude and a certain class it is perfect. I might have a minor quibble or two about a small detail here or there but over all the total effect is so much more than the sum of the parts. Love it. 10/10.

  10. SueAnne says

    As a lover of both Edwardian fashion and winter wear, I can’t find much I dislike about this one. It’s one of my favorite historical silhouettes. The spotted netting is a neat touch, too, and I think the very decorated collar works well with the darkness of the main fabric, though I can totally see how that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
    10/10, as I am now adding this dress to my future make inspiration list. 😀
    P.S. Speedy and painless recovery wishes to you!

  11. The spotted net overlay is lovely. But the combination of that and the dark brown corded velvet just looks drab to me, somehow. A 6.5 out of 10.

  12. Katie says

    I love the decoration of the skirt and the overall shape of the dress, but the combination of cord and net and lace and cream and navy and brown aren’t to my taste. 7/10

  13. Hearthrose says

    The cord is fine. The net is fine. The cord and net together are even fine. The neckline destroys a perfectly good dress – the V is too narrow to suit the rest of the dress and the embroidery and navy lace are dreadful. (I would adore the navy lace and embroidery on something ELSE ). Were the V changed to a low square, edged in the same lace that edges the sleeves, my response would be vastly more favorable.

  14. Deanna says

    I haven’t got enough time or brain power right now to do a proper rating – but I want to say thanks to Mr. D for helping with posts, and I hope your injury heals quickly! It’s always so difficult when one of our “moving parts” can’t function properly.

  15. Sixer says

    Um, wow. I can’t get over the fabric choice – purple and yellow corduroy? Eww, anyone? (@Daniel – yes! it’s exactly like an old plush chair! Too comfortable to throw out but too ugly for the drawing room). I think I do like the cream sleeves with netting, although it’s hard to take them seriously – they seem a little over-the-top gothic. And I think I would love the bodice construction, if, you know, I could actually see it admidst the dark striping. A solid dark fabric with cream piping to match the cream blouse would have made a more tasteful combination, though I suppose it’s possible that it’s absolutely smashing in person and just doesn’t photograph well. It would be interesting to see it on a slightly fuller mannequin. The embellishments on the sleeves are a nice, dramatic touch, but copying it on the neckline was a waste of effort. It doesn’t show very well against the dark fabric and ends up looking like an after thought.

    Score: 5/10

  16. I don’t like it. I don’t know why I don’t like it beyond that it’s dark and icky to me. I can’t give you a technical reason, maybe if I’d actually had my cup of tea this morning, but right now I just don’t like it.
    My sleep-addled brain says 2/10 because I want to go back to sleep and I”m sure it’d give me nightmares of being chased by something dark.

  17. Bernadette says

    I quite like this. It looks rather imposingly grand dame, like the kind of older lady so popular in Victorian and Edwardian novels who swoops around dominating the entire neighborhood and running the lives of any young person who is so unfortunate as to come within her orbit. Bonus points because it looks like she would be quite warm while doing so (you can’t be too careful when you reach A Certain Age). One point taken off because I think it could have done without the added lace at the neckline. The pretty embroidered trim was quite enough. But when Aunt Edwina gets an idea into her head, the local seamstress knows better than to protest.

  18. Wendy says

    It’s just got way too much going on. The cut is fine. Are you sure it’s corded velvet? My monitor is giving off a lot of blue reflections on the main body of the dress, as if it was a shot striped silk or similar. That would make sense of the blue trim. I do like the blue lace. 6/10.

    • According to the museum it’s corded silk. It’s a silk velvet, so will have a high shine compared to a modern cotton velvet, and the corded stripes will give the effect of it being shot. If you look closely at the edges at the top of the shoulder you can see the ridges of the cording. 🙂

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