Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Rosy Pink & Roses Française

Robe a la Francaise, Italian, about 1775, Silk taffeta brocaded with silk and metallic threads, MFA Boston, 77.6a-b

I have robe  la françaises on the mind, so they have inspired this week’s Rate the Dress pick.  It’s the most pink and cabbage-rose-y Française I could find.  I’m interested to see if you’ll think that’s a good thing or not!

Last week:  a crinoline-to-first-bustle-era transitional gown in jewel green patterned silk

Generally speaking, you liked last week’s dress as an example of its type.  A few of you even loved it.  Most of you just weren’t that inspired by it, even if you didn’t actually like it.  I did find the various interpretations of the print most amusing.  Bats!  Seagulls!  (or, in reality, little berry or bud sprigs.)

The Total: 7.1 out of 10.

That’s definitely a nice-but-not-inspiring rating.

This week: a pink and gold and so many florals française:

Sacque dresses were really just vehicles for a lavish amount of sumptious fabric and a froth of decadent trim.  This one is no exception.  The extremely wide square hoops show off meters of the rosy silk.  The front of the dress and sleeves feature expensive metallic lace.

The serpentine curves of fabric don’t allow for a symmetrical print placement across the back pleats, so instead they are used to create an additional set of spiralling lines.

A theme of straight construction lines with curved design lines is repeated throughout the dress: even the sleeves are attached with straight angles, rather than the curved armscye we’re used to in modern garments.

The MFA Boston has chosen an interesting pale grey or silver stomacher to pair with the dress. I’m almost certain it’s not one that was ever worn with this dress in-period.

What do you think? Do you like the fabric, with its muted dusky-rose-pink ground, and lush floral pattern?  Does the interplay of symmetrical construction and trim, and asymmetrical fabric, work for you?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. The fabric and color are beautiful. It is a wonderful example for its period.

    But I continue to be put off by wide skirts shaped like bolsters, and I don’t think the silver stomacher the MFA chose works well with the gown’s color scheme.

    6.5 out of 10.

  2. I love the fabric I hate the metallic lace, it might be my modern tastes but the metallic lace trim look like crumpled pieces of plastic all over the dress. But he back view of this dress make my hearth happy.


  3. Not sure I like the stomacher either but the dress is fabulous. Just think how well it would look in candlelight. Without that gold, the dusty pink would fade to gray. I give it a 9.5 — and I am NOT a pink person.

  4. Pat Winship says

    Perfect, except for the choice of stomacher. The way the trim compliments the fabric pattern is lovely. The back pleats are wonderful. I’ll leave out the stomacher, which is the museum’s fault and give it a 10.

  5. Lalaith says

    Lovely fabric! Not my favorite style, but one of the better examples of the style. A warm-colored stomacher might have looked better, but that’s the museum’s fault.


  6. Madeleine says

    This fabric is just exquisite! The ground color reads as a sort of lavender-ish pink to me. I love the gold & silver threads brocaded into the pinkish background, & the gorgeous brocaded multi-color bouquets. The stunning metallic gold lace trimming the dress, & the fly fringe referring so beautifully to the brocaded bouquets – just breathtaking.

    I have to keep trying not to see the stomacher. Presumably not from the original dress (hopefully)!

    Stomacher aside, all of the glory of this dress is from the heavenly textile & trims. Nothing particularly noteworthy about the style, to me. That said, I am a textiles fan, & with a textile as glorious as this:

    9 out of 10.

  7. I love everything about it except the stomacher, and that’s not the fault of the dress. I’d willingly give it full marks if not for that.

  8. I think what makes the asymmetric fabric work is that it is not high-contrast, so that the asymmetry is muted. The sheer width of the skirt calls out for a large-scale fabric design.

    Since the stomacher was not part of the original, i’m ignoring it.

    (Hoping my comment wont be deleted as last week’s was for no reason that I can determine)

    9 of 10

    • Sorry that your comment didn’t make it through last week 🙁 Sometimes the system glitches and comments don’t get posted – nothing I’ve tried has managed to fix it.

  9. I’m going to ignore the silver stomacher which is just awful since it’s not part of the original. I really like the fabric, I think it’s just lovely. And I always love the overdress/underdress aesthetic as well as the ruffles from the undergarments. I also really like style of bodice and sleeves. There’s only two things I don’t like – I don’t like the gold trim and I’ve never liked the skirts on these dresses, they’re so bulky! So overall, I think it’s really very lovely.


  10. The dresses that you present on your blog must have been a very valuable belonging…. the yardage, the fitting and the workmanship… amazing!! Thank you!

  11. I agree with everyone on the stomacher, but as far as the dress goes, it is an excellent example of the style. I’ve never cared for this type of gown, it being waaaay too over the top and blingy. But I can set that aside long enough to admit that this dress does its job–it exhibits the wealth and taste and stylishness of its wearer– and it does that job well.

  12. Diane says

    I seem to be the odd one out. While the back view is splendid, the front view is enough to ruin the look. The metallic lace looks like old, crushed Christmas garland looping up the front. Add to that the zigzagging pattern on the front panel that leads the eye up to the mismatched stomacher (what were they thinking?) and I find it hard to like this dress.
    5 out of 10

  13. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    The Brillo pad stomacher cannot be stomached so I’ll just ignore it.

    The dress itself is spectacular. The way the fabric just responds to the pleating, the balance, the purity, the crispness. The gold lace embellishments are actually in line with the fabric design so they don’t feel plonked on at all, but a natural and tasteful extension of the dress fabric. I really like the gown and I can’t criticise it at all, it just works well and in balance so I’ve got to say 10/10.

  14. Anne Gloucester says

    The backside is stunning, the front not so much. The gold lace looks like christmas tree decorations. And the silver stomacher doesn´t match at all.


  15. KH_Tas says

    I like the back and the fabric. The panniers look a bit awkward from the front, and I don’t like the squiggly bit on the trim (the trim on along the edge I think is fine).

    Another no on the stomacher.


  16. I’m down with a nasty cold and don’t feel like trying to repeat what others already said in my own words, so:
    Rating without stomacher: 9/10

  17. I LOVE the back of the dress – the color and pattern of the fabric are splendid, and the whole gown looks superbly elegant.
    The front – like so many others, I think the color of the stomacher doesn’t match the rest of the gown. I also dislike the texture of metal lace; the fabric is so smooth and sleek, and the lace on the stomacher all, I don’t know, frothy. I feel the gown would be perfect if somebody had persuaded the original owner of the dress to have a very simple stomacher, made of silk matching the fabric of the skirt.
    But maybe that’s just my 21st century sensiblities.


  18. Nynke says

    Well this fabric is just perfection. And I think the gold trim complements it splendidly. Inkt imaginaire it in candlelight!
    This Française is rather square-ish, some have more rounded skirts. I believe it was a British vs French thing, but am no longer sure which was which. Anyway, rounded skirts might have been a better match for the fabric.


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