Rate the dress

Rate the Dress – Bright blue late Edwardian

Yay!  Hooray!  Last week’s green velvet 1718 Rate the Dress was extremely popular, and I always love it when people love a dress.  The only poor-ish ratings it got (and they still weren’t that bad) were people who like a bit more embellished OTTness in their costuming, or those who just couldn’t love velvet in the middle of a heatwave!

The dress swept in to the Rate the Dress royal court with a scale of 9.2 out of 10.

Today’s choice for Rate the Dress has been sitting in my RtD inspiration folder for ages, but this week it seems like the perfect pick, because I finally managed to go see Wonder Woman, and, in case you haven’t heard, Wonder Woman’s bright blue WWIish evening dress has the costuming internet in a tizzy, either because they are trying to figure out if you can shove a sword down the back (answer, yes, but your dance partner is definitely going to notice that your spine is a little more rigid than usual), or are tsking over how not-quite-accurate-to-period it is, or are madly in love with it.

Sometimes all three at the same time.

Mini-movie-review:  it was OK, but didn’t rock my world.  I think my viewing of it suffered because I’d heard so-much-hype about what a feminist wonderland it was, so anything less than that was going to be a bit of a letdown.  It was much, much better than most superhero movie, but there were too many impractical-for-fighting high-heels and gratuitously tight sweaters for actual feminist wonderland status.  And the racial/cultural stereotypes really didn’t sit well with me.  But the historical costumes were better than I had expected (though my expectations there were pretty low, so easy to beat!)).  The now infamous blue evening gown, which really didn’t do it for me on a personal level, though I could see what they were going for (1910s with a nod to Wonder Woman’s origins in classical Greek mythology, and costumes from the WW TV series).

But hey, look!  Here is an actual cobalt blue 1910s dress with a bit of Grecian inspiration (OK, so it’s 8 years earlier than the Wonder Woman time frame, but so was some of the film’s costuming *cough*):

This gown’s snug silhouette, draped tightly over the waist and hips to showcase a small waist and a smooth, curvaceous figure, is typical of 1908-11.  The dressmaker has used the draping at the waist, along with the asymmetrical detailing of the bodice and skirt, to evoke classical Greek or Roman attire, despite the body conscious silhouette.

Day dress, ca. 1910, wool & silk, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion, 00000335

The high, tight guimpe worn under the dress helps to meld classical allusions and late-Edwardian modesty, and the quirky chiffon lower sleeves look forward to the first half of the 1910s, when oddly shaped sleeves were all the rage (my costuming history students looked at all my 1910s dresses, and asked what they were thinking.  I told them that they were being proactively thoughtful towards future historians who wanted to date things very precisely – (and then explained properly!)).

So, all-green was a winner last week.  Can all-blue managed the same? Will you think this one is just wonderful?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.





  1. PepperReed says

    This is glorious, and one of my favorite eras! I LOVE that color, the braid trim and wish I could see the back. Not a fan of the lighter blue sleeve, but they’re not a deal-breaker.


  2. I love the colors of this one: royal for most of the gown; deep periwinkle for the trim; turquoise for the lower sleeve. And the fit through the waist and hips is perfection.

    But the lower sleeves are too odd for my taste, with a weird flap that falls over the trim at the sleeve end and makes the sleeve look defective. The lower sleeve also look limp by comparison to the oversleeves above them. So I fear I’m back to a 7 out of 10.

  3. 9. It’s something I’d wear today (minus the guimpe). No, seriously, I would (or, at least the blue part).

    Blue, plus elegant simplicity, plus a nod to ancient history. Even though I don’t like the guimpe as much as something to wear (since it would be too tight in neck and sleeves for my taste), it is tastefully done in a way that nicely sets off (or at least doesn’t distract too much from) the blues, and fits the period. When I first saw the dress it took me a second to realize the guimpe was even there.

  4. Jonna says

    10 out of 10! The color is glorious, and the gold cuffs look like gauntlets. I adore the fit and the draping.

  5. 10 from me. I loves it. It is so gosh darn heck stylish. Great colour, although any rich colour would look fab in this style I feel. I love the nods to history, the assymetry and the FLOW of it. Yummy.

  6. Katie says

    I like the asymmetry and the silhouette and the combination of blue and gold. I even like the sleeves and the lighter blue with the darker blue. The only thing that I’m not sure of is the trimmed end on the lighter blue sleeve is hanging down in a weird way. I’m assuming the left cuff isn’t properly set up on the manikin? Or is that how it’s supposed to be?
    But an overall 7 from me, mainly because of the colour!

  7. I wonder if this is a Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix dress? If you look at how exquisitely it is cut without any waist seams, but with bias cut so that the dress moulds to the figure beneath, it REALLY does make me think of Margaine-Lacroix and her Sylphide gowns designed to be worn without corsetry or at the very least with a kind of elastic bodystocking underneath. It really reminds me so much of the Margaine-Lacroix dress I illustrated in my book (see http://e.hprints.net/md/44/44951-margaine-lacroix-couture-1909-lucienne-debrenne-photo-manuel-freres-hprints-com.jpg ) with all the fragmented spiralling lines around the dress, and I seem to recall she was known for her use of colour/various shades of the same rich colour in one design. And of course, she was developing the potential of the bias cut for clinging fabrics before Vionnet refined it even further.

    I think it is stunning in its simplicity and in the use of fabric and draping. It’s absolutely a 10/10 from me – I think the use of bias cut is revolutionary and this is such a wonderful dress on many levels.

    BTW, the Frock Flicks girls commented on how much they loved that corsetry was treated properly in the film, as opposed to a restrictive torture device preventing you from doing anything, and apparently WW makes a comment about it just being another form of armour that made them very happy. I am looking forward to seeing it sometime.

    • Yeah, it’s really a pity that there isn’t more information about who the maker of this dress is – it would be amazing to know if it was a Margaine-Lacroix dress, or someone else imitating/doing the same thing spontaneously.

      The treatment of corsetry in WW was, like so many other things in the film, better than expected, but still so far to go. WW sees a corset on a dressform and asks if it is the armour London women wear into battle. (good, makes sense for character). She’s told that no, women wear them to keep their stomachs flat (bad, very modern idea of corsetry, but sets up a (very mediocre) joke about only a woman with a flat stomach (WW) asking why women would need flat stomachs).

      Three seconds later she tries on a super frilly, super 1916 summer dress, complete with wire crinoline, which had inexplicably never seen an iron… So….

      • I really want to know if that braiding on the bodice actually spirals around the dress to connect to the braiding on the skirt., Shame we can’t see the back of the dress. If that’s what is happening here, then I’m even more gagged by the eleganza.

        • I’m pretty sure it does. It just makes so much sense! What I REALLY want to know is: how on earth does this thing fasten? The front overlap gives plenty of options for hidden fastenings there, but, if the skirt spirals, how/where do you hide the skirt fastenings.

          I need a mini dressform and the time to play with draping and figure this out!

  8. Emma says

    I can’t say I like it much. I don’t like the trim or the sleeves. There’s something odd about the skirt as well, I’m not sure if it hangs oddly or if it’s just the trim that’s making me think so. I do think the colour’s beautiful though.


  9. nanny norfolk says

    Love the colour & the bias cut, but the funny cuffs & the trim are a no no for me.
    So I give it 7/10.
    But good job we don’t all love the same thing, how boring it would be.

  10. Julia Ergane says

    Bias is just so wonderful — and THIS is perfection! 10/10

  11. On first glance this is truly stunning, especially the lines of the dress and the use of trim.

    My eye was bothered, though, by the guimpe – not so much the shape, as it did meld beautifully with the dress itself, but the color struck me as unrelated and random, so 9 of 10. It’s possible that the color is a result of aging, and that the original would have been more “connected”.

  12. mom says

    I’m a bit on the fence on this one.
    I like the understated elegance of the sash, and the cut and silhouette in general. Very beautiful.
    However, the sleeves are a bit meh – why the princess costume-y tulle undersleeves? WHY? I spend my time among preschoolers these days and there are princess costumes with tulle undersleeves GALORE out there in the world. Too many, if you ask me. And why add cream coloured cuffs? Why???
    The blouse/collar part reminds me of that scene in “The Sound of Music” when they cut up the old curtains to make dresses. The fabric looks like upholstery, doesn’t match the elegant material of the rest of the dress at all. Then there is that weird bit of trim across the upper body – reminds me of a slightly wonky Star Trek uniform. Nah.


  13. Hawke says

    I loved this dress when I first saw it some time ago on tumblr, and I still love it now. 9/10, because something about the sleeves looks off but I can’t put my finger on what.

  14. 9/10. It lacks a certain something to bring it even higher, but only barely! I think it’s the trim – not sure what it is, but it looks a tad too heavy for the fabrics.

  15. I love the main part of the dress and the trim is a nice contrast. Those undersleeves though don’t work for me at all, too limp against the structure of the dress and they just look sad.

  16. Marion says

    Love this color blue, and the lines of the dress, so I rate it a 10.

  17. 9/10 – this doesn’t quite sit as high as last weeks’s for me, the colour and trimming are gorgeous, but the undersleeves don’t quite cut it, and something seems off about the trim on the skirt to me – I appreciate that they’re not leaving it all on the bodice, but something seems weird about where it’s placed.
    On the other hand, that draping!


    I’m a neoclassicism nut, though. This is going on my to-make list. The guimpe doesn’t bother me, but those lower sleeves do a little. The color, while pretty, seems almost random (it’s not dark blue, not turquoise, it’s just simply blue) and reminds me of a Lord of the Rings costume I made in that exact color, complete with weird sleeves. So it would have to be a different color.

    I also like how the trim, from a distance, looks like strips of chain mail.


  19. Florence says

    I actually love the guimpe! And the colour!

    I’m not happy about the trim, though. It’s so alone. I would have preferred the dress with either no trim or more of it. More lace, more texture! Or less texture, let the blue silk shine alone.

    Somebody said “wonky star trek uniform”. Yes! That puts exactly into words what I couldn’t quite pinpoint what bothered me about the trim across the upper body.


  20. I’m giving this a 9/10.

    -.5 for the guimpe (new term I learned), partially because it’s aged poorly, and so as I’m seeing it now it detracts from the dress.
    -.5 for the undersleeves which I don’t think match the rest of the dress.

    One of our local museums is having a WW1 ball this coming January, and while this dress is a few years out of date, it’s tempting to make.

  21. LoriWatk says

    Haven’t been doing a rate the dress lately, life got in my way… it happens to the best of us.
    I’m going to give this an 8, I like it but not enough to go higher.

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