Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: an 18th century Hoodie

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel by Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century (Detail)

I’m so excited about launching the Scroop Patterns Otari Hoodie (which you have about 19 hours left to get 20% off on, along with all the other Scroop Patterns, with the code TWOYEARS at checkout), that of course I had to pick a historical hoodie for this week’s Rate the Dress!

Last week:  A mid-1910s iridescent silk taffeta ensemble

Last week’s Rate the Dress pick was…contentious.  You definitely couldn’t fault it for not being interesting, but some of you faulted it for pretty much everything else.  The two biggest complaints were about the (even more clashing) sash and buttons, and the abrupt join of the two fabrics around the hips.

There were also people who adored the outfit for its personality, and for being such a fabulous example of mid-1910s quirkiness.

The Total: 6.6 out of 10

Well, it’s a slight improvement on the week before it I guess?  Unfortunately a lot of the people who adored the outfit only commented on facebook, and I don’t include the FB comments because they get lost to time (and are a pain to count), so not a success for this one this time.

This week: A lavender pink mid-18th century Brunswick

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel, Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel, Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century

This charming young lady was painted by Roslin sometime around 1760, along with her equally charming pet.

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel by Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century (Detail)

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel, Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century (Detail)

She is clad top to toe in a brunswick ensemble in lavender pink, faced with white satin.

A brunswick was a hooded jacket fashionable in the mid 19th century.  Brunswicks were usually worn with matching waistcoats, and the hood could be attached to the jacket, or the waistcoat.   Roslin’s lady seems to have a hood which attaches to the waistcoat.

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel, Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century (Detail)

Portrait of a Girl Holding a Spaniel, Alexander Roslin, mid 18th century (Detail)

The young lady’s extremely coordinating ensemble is accessorised with a double pearl choker, and a fashionable mid-century hairstyle, with heavily powdered hair twisted back from the brow, topped with a scattering of flowers, and crowned with a small cap.

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments don’t stray into the kind of meanness that is actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting, but it’s no fun a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is crazy.

(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!)


  1. nanny norfolk says

    A lovely coloured outfit, was it for a ball or court dress. I’m sure it looked lovely in candlelight. A bit fussy for me, but I’m a plain ( old ) girl.
    Love the hairstyle though, but wonder how she got all that powder & whatever lurked in it out.

  2. Rachel says

    This is such a charming, appealing portrait, but that little dog is pawing her with its little dog claws! I wonder how the fabric looked afterwards?

    I’ve never seen this kind of “hoodie” before, and I think it’s enchanting – almost fairy-taleish. I’d love to be able to see it with the hood up (would this be a pointed hood or a round hood?), but even down, it creates such a soft, natural looking collar that works well with the highly structured gown. The simple accessories are lovely.

    As for the dress itself, with all its ruffles and squiggles and laces, it does skew towards being sickly-sweet. And I’m not sure about the color. In real life, it might have been rather drab. But in the picture, it has a soft, silvery blush, so that’s what I’ll judge it on. The ornate sleeves are right up my alley, and the frilliness of the dress isn’t overwhelming. In fact, I’d say there are enough embellishments for the effect to be lavish, but not absurd.


  3. The fabrics are lovely, and I like the coordinated color scheme a lot. My only quibble is that the Brunswick the sitter is wearing looks as though it’s too large through the torso, which makes it look sort of odd. It really does look rather like a hoodie. I wonder if wearing of Brunswicks was a fashion mostly confined to children and very young women?

    Anyway, 9.0 out of 10.

  4. Nicole B. says

    Drat–I missed last week. Anyway, this week, the dress is so elegant! It must have taken a tremendous number of woman-hours to apply all of that trim. The manner in which only one fabric was used for everything except the bit of white lining keeps all of the detail from going over the top. I think whoever created this had a great eye for design. And yes, I love the hoodie.


  5. Nancy R T says

    10! I don’t usually like pink, but this is such a lovely shade of rose that it gets a pass. So many beautiful details, and I’m a sucker for a hood in any case.

  6. Emma says

    I find it an interesting costume. I think the colour suits the girl and it echos the flowers in her hair which is lovely. However, it’s way too monochromatic. I started out saying that I liked this part but not this other part but realised in the end that I liked most of the parts in isolation – it’s just when they’re all put together that I start to dislike them because it becomes overwhelmingly pink. So in the end, the only thing I have real reservations about is the odd jutting out of the bodice (which I think is the corset underneath although it seems rather low cut for a corset, but if not that, then what?) and the lack of colour variation!


  7. Erin says

    I love this! The color is perfect for her and I’m actually also drawn to the white lining in the sleeves.

    Having a hard time imagining how that dog sat for a portrait for ages without ruining something from dress to perfect blue bow.

    I give 8/10 because it’s a lot of only one color.

  8. Lynne says

    It’s an ‘I like it, but’. Interesting and attractive example of the style, and the hoodie is intriguing. The colour is suitable, and the girl and her dog look well with it.

    But it is a very heavy formal outfit for a young girl. So much ruffling. Looks solid, as if she’s in satin armour.

    So, 7 out of 10.

  9. Anne says

    I thinks it’s lovely and a wonderful example of what the rich were wearing, so much work went into it and all sewn by hand.
    9 out of 10

  10. Buttercup says

    I love the colour and her sweet little face but I think she is overpowered by the size and volume of the dress. It’s also a bit too frilly and fussy for my liking. Am I the only one who thinks there is something about this dress that reminds me of a pink satin bedspread?

    7/10 cos she has such a sweet little face.

  11. Nan Jorgensen says

    Love it. Love the painting ( I am a painter in oils) love the dress, love the 18th C. style, love the silvery rosy color, which gets a sort of changeable silk taffeta impression across.
    10 /10 definitely!

  12. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    What an elegant hoodie. And a very elegant young lady, perhaps going to dine as “not a child” for the first time.

    It’s not something I would ever wear, but it’s a great example of its style and time.
    Good use of self-fabric trim and contrast. Totally luxurious.

    And I love the way her hair and the trim have similar shapes (it almost looks like “twist braid” cornrows), and the dusting of tiny flowers from hat to brow.


  13. Lalaith says

    It’s quite nice, but I wish all the pink on the outside were broken up with some white, or even powder blue like the dog’s ribbon. Even if the monochromatic-ness is a little drab, it’s still quite pretty, so:


  14. We’re so accustomed to a “hoodie” being a casual garmet detail that having it be part of such formal apparel seems delightfully iconoclastic.

    I’m not at all bothered by a monocrhomatic approach, especially since there is so much trim, but I must admit I would prefei the trim to have been in a smaller scale.

    9 of 10

  15. Heather says

    I love this style! I will agree with some of the other commenters that the dress looks a bit big on the girl. Maybe it’s on loan from an older sister for the portrait? Or maybe the odd fit is just a quirk of the painting? As far as the color of the dress goes, I’m actually a fan of all the pink. Keeping everything in one color keeps all the trim from being overwhelming.

  16. Actually, from the portrait it looks to me as though the fabric of the girl’s outfit is a changeable silk (pink and blue).

  17. I love brunswicks, but I don’t think I’ve seen a pink one before. I love it, I tried to find faults with it, and maybe I would have cut back a bit on the trim, but otherwise I can’t find anything that I don’t like.

    10/10 for me.

  18. I love the color, but I find the contrasting stripes of trim on the edge of the outer coat/wavy lines on the inner bodice kind of distracting. I love the “hoodie” though! 7.5/10

  19. Anna says

    *Is* it a Brunswick though? I thought that was the term for a shorter (hip-length or just below) jacket, whereas a full-length hooded gown like this one was a Jesuit? Anyway, they’re odd garments in general because in various artwork/extants, sometimes the hood is sewn onto the main garment, and sometimes onto a separate vest worn underneath the main gown so you could still take it off and just wear the gown with a regular stomacher when you weren’t traveling like a boss. I like the versatility of the latter, so I neeeeeeed one.

    This one’s gorgeous. Such trim, so pastel, much floof. Awesome travel-wear too in a cold carriage, thank goodness for those long sleeves. This kind of garment is on my make-someday list and I’m so pleased to see one in purpley-pink. 10/10.

  20. Lovely, lovely gown. I’m drawn to hoodies and love garments with hoods so I don’t have to wear a hat or carry an umbrella in inclement weather. This is perfect for a formal occasion. I can see that changeable silk glistening in candlelight. The monochromatic scheme keeps all the trim and frills from overwhelming the eyes, in my opinion. The gown looks substantial enough to be warm in the winter.
    10/10 for me.

  21. Emma says

    I really like it! I now want to make myself a dress with a hood.


  22. Nynke says

    (I hope I am stil in time, please forgive my brevity)

    Lovely color, excellent design, the only thing I do not like is her extreme doll-like face, it is barely human. But that is not the dress, so it will not influence my score.


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