Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: a Francaise as blue as the Hawai’ian ocean

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

This week’s Rate the Dress pick is thematic: it’s a francaise (be prepared for all the francaise posts…),  it’s as blue as the ocean around Hawaii, and it’s covered in a lush array of flowers worthy of any tropical garden. Will it make you feel like you’re on vacation at Versailles and Waikiki at the same time, or will it leave you cold?

Last week:  a late Regency era evening dress

The star-shaped-sequins covered evening dress didn’t inspire an outpouring of commentary and interest, but most of you who rated it agreed that it was an extremely attractive and charming example of its type...well, at least all of you who commented by Saturday evening did.  Perhaps there was an outpouring of dislike before the ratings closed, because…

The Total: 9.4 out of 10

I haven’t had internet since I wrote this post, so don’t know what the final rating is.  It will be a mystery until I make it out of the valley and back to town.

Picture perfect!

This week:

There isn’t a huge amount to rate with this francaise: it doesn’t have a petticoat, it hasn’t been posed and styled with accessories.  But I thought the colour, patterning, and trim were interesting enough to be worthy of your attention.

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Robe a la Francaise, 18th century (probably 1770s), silk, Lot 550, sold by Whittakers Auctions, Fall 2016

Lots of photos, not a lot of commentary: I’m leaving it up to you to supply that!  What do you think?  What do you imagine it being worn with?

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 aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.

(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. Magdalena says

    I actually sort of ridiculously love this dress, even devoid of accoutrements. I was almost hypnotized by the fabric and the pattern, and it was just generally very pleasing to the eye. The pleats at the back are gorgeous! (This also happens to be the first Rate the Dress where I can actually imagine the dress being worn…)

  2. Elizabeth says

    I think it’s lovely. And the buttons are pattern matched!

  3. Marie says

    It’s a waterfall! Powerful yet calming. Cool blue and frothy as a pool where the falls end.
    I love the proportions of the fabric design and trim with the tiny edging matching the size of the the tendrils. Surely she wore it with matching shoes.

  4. The silk, and the pattern of the fabric, are beautiful and well-used in this design. I also love the colors. The shape of the skirt is a bit unusual, but that just adds to the allure.

    10 out of 10.

  5. I’d love to know what petticoat would have been peeking out in this gown’s earlier life. And I do hope the shoes matched, the color is lovely.

    Enjoy your trip home!


  6. Frances Dorrestein says

    I love it. The colour is fabulous. This colour suits absolutely everyone, in my opinion. I love the simplicity of it.

  7. JessieRoo says

    Although I often like frillier, more elaborate pieces, this dress is really one of the loveliest examples of 18th century clothing I’ve seen in a long time (or ever?). It’s the perfect shade of blue that I can imagine working with lots of different colors for the accessories: canary yellow, strawberry red, white/cream, silver, etc. And the simplicity of the design overall really let’s that gorgeous fabric shine.

  8. How very beautiful!
    I could stare at the fabric for ages. It says on the smugmug site that it’s chinese. And it looks very east Asian with the peonies, but it could have been European oriental inspired. Although it seems like very glossy silks like this often are Chinese. I love how different weaves and different hues of white have been used against the glossy blue.
    And I like the construction very much indeed.
    There are more pictures as well and pictures of the inside of the dress:

    10 out of 10

  9. Carmen Beaudry says

    I want to wear this dress. Love the color, the trim, and the matching buttons. 10/10

  10. Tracy W. says

    I am deeply in love with this dress. The maker kept the frills to a minimum, which I think was an excellent decision, since the pattern of the fabric is so beautiful, and so large scaled. I’m glad they didn’t go for a fancy stomacher, and went for a simple comprere front with self fabric buttons. It’s perfect.


  11. Truly lovely. The scale of the pattern suits the sweep of the skirt, and the construction of the top and the serene color are refined enough to counterbalance the exuberance of the print.

    In my mind’s eye I keep switching back and forth between the powdered coiffure and the various natural hair colors, and they all work well with the dress.

    10 of 10

  12. Susan says

    Gorgeous, stunning fabric! I love it and can imagine it being worn at Versailles!


  13. Helène says


    How to look simple and be absolutely gorgious and rich, this is a very beautiful dress, I wish we could know its story, who made it, who worn it.

  14. Elaine says

    This is a style I don’t like, but within the constraints of that style the dress is very well done. I love the covered buttons! And the fabric design and colors are lovely. 9/10.

  15. Kathy Hanyok says

    Blue is one of my least favorite colors but this blue is so beautiful I’ll think of it as cerullian, not blue. I think the gown is lovely but to my eye the buttons are too large and something about the rouching on the back doesn’t seem right to me. Too fussy, it ruins the line of the fall.

  16. Sam Sam says

    When I was a kid this was what I pictured Cinderella’s ball gown to be like. I love it’s understated design, the colour and the shape. I wish we could see the petticoat but whatever! I’m also glad they didn’t style it because you get to see the garment without any distractions.


  17. Nicole B. says

    I can think of absolutely nothing negative to write about this enchanting garment. It has all the right everything. (Plus, blues are my favorite colors.)


  18. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Wow – they even took the time to blend the buttons into the stomacher pattern.

    I’m a sucker for self-trim and turquoise and Chinese styles silks. Sigh.

    I can see it with a silver-embroidered white satin petticoat, sleeve frills floofing with lace, a frilly bit of chemise at the neck. Silver spangles shoes and silver decorations in her powdered hair.


  19. Love the site and blog! Been lurking for a while, thought I’d jump into the comments with a “rate the dress.” My first reaction to this one was “I love it”. It is definitely a 10 in my book. The brocade is exquisite, the design is lovely. Even though it is period, it reminds of something very haut couture.


  20. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I find it virtually flawless. Glorious colour, beautiful fabric, imposing sweep and proportions, and I’ve always liked a comperes front. I remember when they were supposed to be really rare, and I guess technically you don’t see so many, but it’s still a beauty. All it needs is a petticoat to match (maybe a custom-printed replica) and beautiful whitework engageantes to allow its celestial quality to sing.

    To give it anything less than 10/10 would be unfair of me.

  21. Helen says

    Perfect example of too much being exactly enough. Beautiful. Perfection. A 10.

  22. Karin says

    Wow. Absolutely beautiful. The fabric is amazing and it really doesn’t need anything else to make this a gorgeous gown.

  23. Deanna says

    Ohhhh! It’s gorgeous. What a color, and what a beautiful pattern in the silk. It somehow manages to look so light – it puts me in mind of blue skies and fluffy clouds drifting in the breeze.


  24. It’s magnificent!
    I’ve never seen light blue ocean waters, but this is almost exactly the same shade of blue as the lakes and rivers I saw in Jasper National Park – the stuff they call “glacial milk”. With the frothy looking white flowers and the back pleats it reminds me so much of the waterfalls there.
    I can picture the wearer walking through a grove of spruce trees with the rocky mountains rising behind her (though her hem would get terribly dirty on those trails).

    I also love the fact that one side of the front is pieced! Piecing makes me happy.


  25. Ohhh my favorite style. The back pleats, the fabric, the trim, the understated fly fringe. I have a somewhat similar fabric I’m getting ready to make a francaise out of but it’s cotton rather than silk, so I’ll be looking back at this post for all the delicious detail!
    10/10 for sure.

  26. I love it. I had a pseudo Renaissance inspired maternity gown from a similarly blue floral, and it reminds me of that fabric that I loved so much.
    I can just imagine how amazing it is in its entirety.


  27. Love it. So much. Like, I want to whisper, “Yoink!” and elope with it before anyone realizes what’s going on.

    I like to imgine it either with a matching petticoat. or one in a similar shade of unpatterned blue.


  28. What was the final score on the prior week? Your post cuts off before you share that.

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