Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Green Velvet & Gold Trim, 1718ish

Ouch!  Rate the Dress has been striking out a bit lately.  Quite a lot of very bad reviews for Paquin’s extremely pink confection brought its score down to a rather terrible 6.6 out of 10, but, on the other hand,  it did get four more perfect tens than the purple dress from the week before, despite a lower average rating, and I would say that inspiring strong emotions is better than indifference!

(I personally thought it was not at all to my taste, despite my love of chine a la branche, and yet fabulous just the same.  In a room full of over the top gowns with enormous, over-done sleeves, it would still stand out).

I’m sticking with the big-skirt silhouette for this week’s Rate the Dress (OK, not that it’s hard to stick to big skirts in a historical context!) with an early 18th century ensemble with matching jacket, stomacher and petticoat in lush green velvet with elaborate metalwork embroidery.

This ensemble speaks of luxury and status, but there is also something quite restrained about it – perhaps the large expanse of untrimmed skirt?

What do you think?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Love this – REALLY love the color – love the balance and placement of the embroidery.
    10 of 10

  2. Aleksei says

    Love, love, love this. The velvet! The trim! The restraint! The elegance! Can it get much better? 10/10!

  3. Dalia says

    10 out of 10. This is the first time I felt compelled to give a rating after months of following the blog. ’nuff said.

  4. Allison says

    Ten! This is stunning and I would wear it in a heartbeat!

  5. Rachel says

    The front looks a little askew, but I still love it. What a gorgeous shape. What lovely cuffs. What a beautiful layout for the embellishments.

    I wish it was more colorful, but even so.


  6. I 100% love this – I don’t comment very often but this is so worth it! That colour of green, that embroidery, that elegance in the restraint, even the little sleeve caps. I honestly can’t imagine making it better – perfect 10! Now this is one to reproduce…

    (Gold embroidery on saturated colours are one of my favourite things. The velvet is showing its age a little, but imagine the richness of colour when it was new!)

  7. Emma C says

    I really like it, it’s not an absolute favourite like some of the previous ones, but I love the colours and the rich trim. It’s sumptuous without going overboard. 9/10

  8. Now this is more like it, as far as I’m concerned. I *love* the color and fabric, and despite the metal embroidery, it looks restrained.

    To be sure, it needs to be imagined with the right accessories: lace cuffs, a lace apron (to fill the void between waist and hem) and a matching cap. I’m including those items mentally in my rating, because such a dress would not be worn as the museum has shown it.

    10 out of 10.

  9. Belinda says

    I love this one. It has turned up often in my searches for 18th century inspiration. It seems beautifully made, the deep pleats in the skirt sit very well over the support

  10. Lisa W says

    Oh my, what a dress! Love how the asymmetry of the embroidery on the bodice provides a visual break from the formal structure of the rest of the stitching. When newly worked, the gold and silver threads must have glowed against the lush velvet and would have added beautiful contrasts of hard/soft texture, reflective/absorptive colour. 10/10 for me.

  11. Janet van Dompseler says

    Love it! Beautiful colour and just the right amount of embellishment.

  12. Elise says

    I want to marry this dress. This dress is more beautiful than Justin Trudeau, spring weather, and good coffee, all combined.


    And I want to know more about it.

  13. I adore this dress so much! The color does happen to be my favorite, and although I’m not typically into sparkly in embroidery I do love it on this dress! 10/10

  14. Holy Velvet Batman! Instant 10, and then in my head I added a fichu and engageates and wanted to give it a 15! What’s not to love. Green Velvet is possibly one of the most luxurious fabrics on the planet. Gold embroidery!
    I actually love this more than if it were red. 🙂

  15. Wendy says

    Love this. I give it a 9. I will also say I briefly thought of Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet poitiers dress.

  16. MayravB says

    Oh my goodness I LOVE it! The restraint in shape and decoration paired with that amazing velvet is wonderful.

  17. Mary Ann Hadley says

    Yes, I’ll bet it was stunning when new. I could really see myself descending from a carriage in this beauty. A firm 9 for its luxurious simplicity.

  18. Judi says

    I agree. A beautiful dress all around — great design, superb craftsmanship, overall elegance. I get a Scots vibe from it, but couldn’t tell you why.

  19. Suzanne says

    11 out of 10
    Spectacular… need one in my wardrobe!

  20. tegan says

    On my gods I want that in my closet. The color, the metal embroidery (I was just thinking about that yesterday!), the comfy looking silhouette…

    Let’s give it 10/10 for how much I want it

  21. Lynne says

    Green velvet – swoon. Love the stuff. What a beautiful, wearable oufit.

    9 out of 10.

  22. Huldra says

    Love this! It’s kinda.. fae? The colour reminds me of our dark spruce forests here in Scandinavia. 🙂 Earthy, but ethereal at the same time…
    The only thing that would make it better would be if the golden embroidery was silver (and symmetrical, perhaps), and the skirt and the bodice stuck more together – atm it looks a little like a top and a skirt rather than one whole, flowing piece. But still, it’s stunning, and theres something a little magical about it, so I think it deserves a 10!

  23. Is this a piece of furniture from Knole? Something for Mother Christmas?

    Going through a heatwave in the UK and it is just FAR too hot to even look at something like this… It is quite beautiful in its way, with good proportions, but I’m just recoiling from it at the moment. Pretty much the absolute last thing I want to think about is heavy green velvet weighed down with gold embroidery. Gag. So just looking at it is making me want to upchuck from the idea of being stifled in velvet in what are (for us British lightweights) very high temperatures, I’m afraid. It’s just really badly timed for me because if I saw this in January or December when it’s much colder here, I would probably give it a high mark., but as I can barely stand to look at it at this point in time, it has to be given a 5/10.

    • The fact that we’re all huddling in front of heaters in layers of wool here in NZ probably did help influence my choice! At least green is a cool colour, right? Like deep, shady forests?

    • Elise says

      Dress-related, you are so silly. Go to the library and borrow Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”, then go to the yogurt or frozen food section of your large grocery store, and read the book. THEN look the dress back up and see if it seems different to you.

      More importantly, of course, my heart goes out to those in the UK–especially the older and sick. To have this sticky weather on top of everything else…sending hugs, and to you, too.

      • It does look different now I’m not fading in and out of consciousness due to the temperatures (which is a thing I go through). So if it’s not too late, I adjust it to a 7.5

        • The next time there is a heat wave I shall try to pick something in frothy white cotton that makes you cool just to look at it 😉

          Glad to hear you are feeling better!

  24. I love this ensemble. I haven’t seen many 18th century velvet pieces, and this one is just the most perfect color. I definitely have a weak spot for emerald, especially when paired with gold and this is just the right amount of embellishment. I’m also a fan of the jacket/skirt combinations, and I like how this is quite rich for such a combination. Because I really can’t think of anything I’d change: 10/10!

  25. I love it! I haven’t seen this set before, and I’m delighted that you posted it. It looks stately, and the mostly unornamented petticoat keeps it from looking cluttered in spite of all the gold. The late 17th century fashion for petticoats with trim only at the hem (rows of metal galoons, or broad lace) lasted into the early 18th century.

    I’ve often seen 18th century jacket and petticoat ensembles described as “informal” compared to mantuas and sacks, but velvet and metalwork embroidery is clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m inclined to think that in large parts of Europe, jacket and petticoat were a fashion in itself along with mantuas, sacks, and gowns with boned bodices, although it tends to get left out of fashion history because it wasn’t as common in England and France.

    Definitely a 10/10 to me!

  26. nanny norfolk says

    Even though we’ve a heatwave in the UK doesn’t effect the dress. It’s lovely. shame whoever put it on the model didn’t get the top of the bodice straight.

  27. Linda Ferris says

    This is gorgeous!! The velvet is a lovely color, the metallic trim looks perfect and there is not too much of it! Would that we could wear such things today!

  28. Julia Ergane says

    Velvet was always very popular in Spain and it did not matter what the heat was. It was unfortunate that the model dresser did not get the stomacher straight; but, the embroidery is glorious! I do love the shade of green my monitor is showing me. As it is a rare colour (the dyes were poisonous at that time for it) it makes this dress even more impressive that it lasted this long in such good condition. I could probably have a bit more embroidery on the skirt; but it is gorgeous as is. 10/10

    • Poisonous green dyes are a later 19th century thing. Early 18th century greens are not dangerous. 🙂 Still very expensive though!

  29. Natalie says

    Wow, this is stunning. I always dreamed of a green velvet dress. I love the embroidery and how it doesn’t take over the dress. It is beautiful! 10/10

  30. Elina G says

    Drooool. Want it and I could actually use it (well, maybe a copy) too for baroque dance gigs! Hey, just hand it over to me and drat temperatures (it gets hot on stage anyway). So since I can’t give more it’s a 10!

  31. Susan says

    Love this dress. I’d wear a reproduction version at a Playford Ball or at the wonderful New Year’s Eve festivities just down the road. It combines my favorite color with stunning embroidery, in just the right proportion. Absolutely gorgeous!

    10, of course!

    It also reminds me that I have a long green velvet Laura Ashley dress hanging in my closet, a size or two too small at present. Hmm, maybe if I really work on it between now and New Year’s, it can again become part of my dance wardrobe. Even if it does lack all that golden embroidery!

  32. Hannah says

    Love it! Want it. Need it. Might make it. 11.

  33. 7/10
    Liked it till I got to the bottom trim, which is a bit too much. On the mannequin all of the embroidery looks like too much, but in person it would blend so beautifully with the skin.

  34. I am loving the elements, but the whole leaves me ambivalent. The embroidery is stunning, love, love, love the green velvet and the styling of the jacket. Put it all together and the fangirl squee peters out.

    Maybe it’s because this time period isn’t one of my favourites, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a 7/10 from me because I like the parts, rather than the sum.

  35. Elska says

    I feel really mixed about this dress: there’s nothing wrong with it but it’s just really plain. 7/10 but still toot-table.

  36. Pam Plemouse says

    9/10. There is something about the ‘maturity’ of this dress, the feeling that it might be worn by a woman of a certain age who no longer needs to promise an exuberant eligibility but likes to remind people she is rich as crassus and sharp as well. I like to think the embroidery would even look nice tarnished.

  37. Lylassandra says

    One of my favorite extant dresses! I would die for a reproduction– maybe someday I’ll be good enough to make one!


  38. Emma says

    I like this one a lot. My favourite colour is green and this is a great shade. I’ve also always been fond of plain skirts with just a band or two of trim (or, in this case, embroidery). I think the embroidery is lovely (especially the embroidery on the skirt) and contrasts nicely with the velvet. The overall feel is one of rich, luxurious fabric and gold thread but the restrained feel keeps it from being over-the-top and makes it quite elegant.


  39. Grace Darling says

    How many of us watch ‘Outlander’ and can see Clare in that?


  40. Katie says

    The green colour is amazing and I love the gold lace. The overall silhouette is really attractive with the jacket and skirt – the jacket particularly is a lovely shape. I don’t think I’ve seen many full velvet gowns from the 18th century (though I know nothing about Spanish / Catalonian fashion at the time). I just wish there were more pictures on the museum’s website – I want a back view!

    10/10 from me – does anyone know if there are any other pictures online?

  41. Solange says

    A big hi from Chile. Just taking a bit of space to thank your will to share all of this knowledge. You have been very helpful when I want to contact Chinese suppliers (I´m in retail), and learning the story behind fabrics is so interesting!
    Keep with the good stuff 🙂

  42. I love it, do wish they’d put the stomacher on straight though, that’s bugging me.
    10/10 though for the actual outfit, and now I will go straighten something here to make me feel better.

  43. Erin says

    Is the stomacher not correct in this display? I love the little bit poking out at the bottom, it disrupts the round shape of the garment and is like a little bit of extra trim for me!
    Anyway, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to this dress but I love it. 9/10

  44. Wendy says

    Love everything about it, and I, too, am imagining it with the accessories such as the lace cuffs. A wonderfully balanced garment in both cut and decoration. And the colour is just gorgeous.

    I think the “scots vibe” is because the degradation of the velvet over time has given it a slight plaid effect.

    10/10 for me.

  45. Such lovely colours and embroidery (green and gold are the colours of my alma mater so I could possibly be a little biased), and I bet the velvet looks amazing in person even after all this time. It strikes a great balance of opulent and expensive, but also tasteful. 10/10

  46. And so to join the long list of people who like this dress 🙂 I am surprised no-one has compared it to their granny’s faded sofa, though ;D Perhaps it is too stunning.
    One regret that they have not accessorised it, or even put it on a mannequin with hands: the gaping wrists look a bit … gruesome, almost?

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