Today was a public holiday in New Zealand (Waitangi Day). Most people took a four day weekend, so it’s thrown my usual scheduling out. So apologies for the slightly belated Rate the Dress. To make up for it, I’ve picked a VERY exciting Rate the Dress: a relatively unknown 1890s Pingat tea gown (probably) that caused quite a stir when I shared it on Instagram earlier this week.
I’m on a Rate-the-dress roll! Once again, the majority of you loved the frock, though there were a few caveats. The two main complaints were about the wide sleeves, the sleeve trim, and the muted colours. Wider, more relaxed sleeves were often a feature of late 1810s fashions. Chine, by its nature, is muted, and this was a particularly restrained example.
The Total: 8.7 out of 10
Not quite as good as the week before, but still a very good score indeed.
This week: A c. 1892 Pingat ‘tea dress’ or tea gown
Since some of you didn’t care for last week’s muted hues, I present a decidedly un-muted 1890s couture creation:
The National Gallery of Australia has labelled this striking confection a ‘tea dress’ (by which I presume they mean a tea gown – read more about them here). Whatever this gown is, it’s a very unusual garment. Some of the elements are not entirely typical of a tea gown. The dress ismore fitted, with more emphasis on the waist, than is usual for a tea gown.
It could almost be fancy dress, but for what? The sleeves are decidedly Elizabethan. The choice of fabrics and the colours are decidedly un-Elizabethan. The ruff collar, as wacky as it is, is quite restrained for a fancy-dress collar. It could be a theatre costume, but I’ve never heard of Pingat making theatre costumes.
The combination of historicism, exoticism, and theatrical elements is typical of late Victorian tea gowns. The use of lavish and expensive fabrics in a garment that could only be used for a limited range of social functions was also typical of a tea gown. By the 1890s, tea gowns were less likely to be loose, comfortable garments that could be donned without assistance, increasing the chances that this was indeed a tea gown. Late Victorian tea gowns were also more likely to fill the function of a hostess gown: being slightly more outrageous than what your guests would wear, which certainly describes this dress.
So, with no obvious clues to the contrary, I shall assume that the NGA means tea gown when they say tea dress, and that their classification is entirely correct.
With that aside, what do you think of the dress itself? Tea gowns were not meant to be shrinking violet garments, but is this one a bit too outre?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
(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!)