It’s Rate the Dress day again! Every week I feature a historical garment — whether an extant original, or an artistic depiction, and you have your say about its aesthetic merits within the context of its time. This week’s pick is a seasonally inspired 1820s dress with red & green zig-zags.
Last week: ca. 1910s purple polka dots
Last week’s purple polka dotted frock was an interesting one. Nobody loved it enough to give it a 10/10, and a few of you really didn’t like it, but most of the ratings were pretty positive.
I have a love/hate relationship with the purple number. Or, more accurately, a hate/love relationship. My initial reaction was “Gah, it’s hideous!” The more I looked at it, the more I found elements that I ought to love, or that were beautifully done. There is so much there that is good, and yet somehow, for me, it just doesn’t work.
The Total: 7 out of 10.
That’s the lowest we’ve had in a while, and pretty bad for the perennially popular 1910s.
This week: a ca. 1821 afternoon dress:
To celebrate the holidays I’ve chosen a red-& green dress:
The most obvious and striking feature of this early 1820s dress is the red & green zig-zagged fabric. The fabric takes advantage of advances in printing, bleaching and dyeing technology that revolutionised early 19th century fabrics. The print is created with engraved metal roll-printing; an invention which allowed relatively detailed prints to be created reasonably cheaply, bringing previously prohibitively expensive printed fabrics, if not to the masses, at least to a wider expanse of the general public.
The impact of engraved roll printing was made even more pronounced by improved dyeing and bleaching techniques which allowed prints with multiple contrasting colours to be printed directly next to each other on the fabric at a relatively reasonable price-point.
So this fabric, while perhaps a bit fuddy-duddy to modern eyes, would have been quite new and exciting in the 1820s, justifying the extensive use of it for almost every aspect of the dress.
Note the use of contrasting stripe placement on the pereline body and collar, and the bias-cut of all the major bodice pieces. The bodice is trimmed with double rows of self-fabric piping, and stripes created by gathering stripes of fabric cut along the green stripes. The bodice stripes highlight the lowered waist of the 1820s, and the curvier, more waist-focused, silhouette.
The same stripes trim the tops of the double layer of skirt ruffles. The ruffles utilise an interesting change in stripe placement from the top to the bottom ruffle, creating visual movement at the hem of the dress, emphasising the softer, fuller skirts of 1820s fashion.
The only non-fabric trim element is the narrow wool braid that edges the pelerine and the cuffs of the dress.
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
Tell us what you think! Do the zig-zags, and the way they have been used, add a bit of festive fun to this afternoon frock, or is this example of an 1820s dress a bit of a dud?
(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5. I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it! Thanks in advance!)