Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Ring a Ring o Roses

Dinner dress, 1910—12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

This week’s Rate the Dress moves from orderly paisley, to a more unruly pattern that mixes shapes, textures and floral types with wild abandon.  Will asymmetry, fringe, and wreaths of roses over orchid lei beat out last week’s rating?

Last week: a green paisley 1850s dress  

Last week’s 1850s frock made some of you remember how disappointed you were to discover that adult life involved far too few balls (after all, what’s the point of being an adult if not tea parties and balls?), and made others think of their least favourite salad greens and dressing combination (as a farmer’s daughter, I’m very alarmed if you’re buying lettuce in that shade of green, but I have no quibble with anyone who wants to claim that mayonnaise is revolting, particularly as a salad dressing).

The Total: 8.1 out of 10

Well, it definitely beat the bustle dress of the week before!

This week:

I’m keeping with the feminine, romantic feel of last weeks dress, but in a very different era, and with a gold tinged take on feminine and romantic, rather than green.

Dinner dress, 1910—12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

Dinner dress, 1910—12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

This early 1910s dinner dress combines a fabric with a motif of rose wreaths floating over textured satin and matte orchids and leis with lace, net, braiding, oversized faux buttons, rosettes, and a net fringe.  It’s a lot, but all held together by a restrained pastel colour scheme.

Dinner dress, 1910—12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

Dinner dress, 1910—12, American, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.1303

The dress is identifiable as a dinner or reception dress because the neckline is higher than a ballgown, but lower and more revealing than a day dress.  The train and luxe fabric place it firmly in formal wear territory for the early 1910s.

What do you think?  Too many disparate elements, or a beautiful balance of details and subtlety?

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. I think the color scheme is good–subtle, but warm and glowing. I have no problem with the rings-of-roses motifs–not one I’d wear, but it would look lovely on some women. And I like the (ornamental, surely?) buttons on the sleeve-ends.

    On the other hand, I think there *are* too many design details, some of which were ill-chosen. The long fringe at the hem looks very odd, and the draping on the bodice (both front and back) looks sloppy to me.

    7 out of 10.

  2. Catrijn says

    I was loving it… until I scrolled down far enough to see the fringe. 6/10

  3. Nicole B. says

    I agree, the large lace panel on the bodice looks sloppily draped, especially in back. I’m also a little unsure about the gold fringe on the skirt. It does chromatically balance the skirt with the bodice and add necessary visual weight to the hem, but the way it edges the train makes me think of a child promenading in a piano shawl.

    Otherwise, I mostly like the dress. The fabrics are especially nice and dainty.


  4. I like everything except the hem fringe, which I find horrid and gives the impression that the seamstress wanted “just one more thing” but didn’t have time to go to the mercer’s did a sort of Scarlett O’Hara maneuver with the heavy drapes (fortunately, she left the heavy velvet behind). The other details of the outfit are so much more subtle that the fringe is discordant.

    The colorway is lovely.

    8 of 10

  5. The braid on the bodice and the fringe at the hem go over the top for me, but otherwise I think it’s lovely.


  6. Elaine says

    I love the fabric, the shape, and the elegant draping. I see elements that objectively I don’t like (I’m looking at you, fringe, big buttons and funny braid on the bodice front), but the whole thing comes together so well for me that I don’t even care about the parts I don’t much like. 9.5/10.

  7. ooo my first thought was just, divine! Most especially the wreaths on the skirt and the pale goldenness. I picture this on a brunette with a large pompadour. The back bodice is so messy-looking, though, and the fringe looks better from the front.


  8. I really like everything about the dress, except the fringe. The color does create a nice balance, but the fringe is discordant. (Or maybe I just don’t like fringe? I can’t think of an example where I have.)


  9. Anonymoose says

    I’m going to have to severely ding this one for practicality. That hem fringe is going to pick up every single dust bunny and dead leaf in the zip code.


    • Hahaha now I’m imagining this dress+dummy gliding all over the place like a zamboni 🙂

  10. Alyssa says

    It’s pretty, but the fringe doesn’t fit the rest of the dress.

  11. LOVE it. Delicious asymmetrical grace and fluid lines. I love the colours, the ebullient trims that all reference a clear common colour theme so they work together to my eye. The only bit I am not loving is the gold fringe. I do like that there is a skirt trim but not that one.

  12. Buttercup says

    I loved this dress until I saw the fringe at the bottom. It doesn’t suit this dress and looks more like window dressing. I’m giving it 8/10 though because it’s still a lovely dress

  13. Maire says

    It’s a whole dress made of curtains. Net curtains. Curtain fringes. 6/10

  14. Magdalena says

    I loved the front (fringes and all!) but the back left me a little cold. I think it might be that strip of lace at the left shoulder, which did look pretty at the front. It just seems a bit toga-like altogether.

  15. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    OMG. She has a butt-wreath! I bet I’m not the only one to say this, but, whoa, fancy planting a butt-print shaped wreath of roses RIGHT slap bang on her derriere. In a way, that’s even more egregious than the gynaecological gowns.

    Apart from that, it’s an extremely pretty and romantic dress. The fringe isn’t necessary and really doesn’t add anything IMO, but otherwise I think it’s quite charming.

    Then again. Rosebuds outlining a…(sorry)…rosebud. Oh dear. Oh, oh, oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear. I can’t decide whether to give points for the unintentional hilarity or dock them for the unintentional tastelessness. I’m going to go with adding 5 points for hilarity, and docking 3 for tastelessness, so….


    • Nicole B. says

      Hahahaha! I saw it, but (butt?) I didn’t want to bring it up after the other anatomical incident.

  16. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    OK, sorry, I see I was the first one to point it out. Apologies to anyone who cannot now unsee it.

    • I really need to make an award for being the first person to see something unfortunately anatomical in a Rate the Dress 😉 When I posted this I wondered who would be first to point out the butt-heart. 😛

      • Elaine says

        I actually did see it, but for whatever reason it doesn’t bother me at all. And I was one of the people who pointed out the crotch gathers on a recent dress! Who knows why one thing sets up an association for a particular person, while something similar does not.

  17. I agree…there is a lot to love about this dress-the floral fabric, the treatment on the top. I am not sure if I like the fringe… Is it too much or a brilliant unexpected addition? I am not sure…I will give it a 9/10.

  18. Pal Koenig says

    Took my breath away…I love the fringe and the way the elements swirl across the dress…I even love the butt heart…creates some up and down symmetry
    but I really love the fringe

  19. Carol Ortery says

    I really like the colors. I really like the silhouette. I like the froth on the bodice. In my imagination I see a courage at the bunched area. The fringe on them looks like she snagged a piano scarf and it got wrapped around her so that she’s dragging it behind her. When I scrolled down to the second, pardon the humor, posterior picture I burst out laughing. I had to show the picture to my husband to share the joke. Maybe I should add extra points for brightening my day?Daniel summed it up very well and made me laugh even more.

  20. Claire Payne says

    The muted colours and gold are a hit with me as is the silhouette. The buttons on the front of the sleeves work but why oh why did they put buttons on the elbows? I can imagine the wearer putting her elbows on the table and wobbling on the buttons although admittedly putting one’s elbows on the table in the 1910’s would have been a faux pas so let us not worry about that. There is a bit too much going on around the neckline and shoulders for me and I think Daniel spoke for more than himself with the ‘rose bud’ comment. Indeed. Quite. Now to the fringe. Why oh why oh why? It makes the dress look like a curtain on the run. It ruined the dress for me and given the lightness of the fabric of the dress, it added unnecessary heaviness which upset the balance of design elements. Deary me! This would have been a 9 out of 10 from me but sorry, due to the fringe it is a…

    6 out of 10. Excuse me while I get the smelling salts.

  21. Lynne says

    I was doing quite well until I scrolled down to the fringe! !!!! Epic, over the top/bottom, why would you do that fringe? Awful. And then Daniel spotted the butt-wreath. Oh, dear.

    The fabric is pretty. The top is fussy, but the shape is simple and the colours, delicate. One stage too many on the sleeves? I want to like it lots, except for the fringe. Why? *back of hand to forehead in dramatic gesture*

    7 out of 10

  22. Clare says

    I love this delicate ethereal dress! All the various elements pull together to create a sumptuous romantic vision! Fringe – yes reminds my modern mind of unfortunate bedspreads but it does not necessarily feel out of place here… butt wreath – slightly too high to bother me …. but the two things I don’t like are those big blobby buttons on the sleeves and the harsh angular shape of the neckline which jars with all the soft whimsical drapeyness.
    But i am still in romantic heaven….

    • Elaine says

      I think you put your finger on why the “butt wreath” doesn’t bother me. Most of it is actually not on the buttocks; the bulk of it is higher than that. If it had been 4 to 6 inches lower, then I probably would have had my eyes popping! Given the repeat pattern of the wreaths, it had to go somewhere, and I think higher was the better choice rather than lower.

  23. Crumpled Rag says

    Its gorgeous except the fringe at the bottom, if they could have just used the band part of it for the colour, it would have been fine, but I too just thought of Scarlett O’Hara, making a dress out of curtains.


  24. Sarah says

    I love this, fringe and all! The shape is beautiful and I love the sleeve detail. I can see why people don’t like a fringe but I think on this dress is actually adds to the “extra” feel of the garment. The floral print is pretty without being overbearing and the colours soft and warm. 9/10

  25. Karen DePauw says

    I love this! It is so delicate and feels like the first dress you would want to grab out when the weather finally screams spring. 10

  26. Beautiful, very harmonious. but that fringe reminds me of my grandma’s curtains 8/10

  27. Lalaith says

    There’s a little too much going on on the shoulders, and the frings is just Bad, but the colors and silhouette are very nice indeed. Would wear, after some judicious application of a seam ripper.
    As is, 7/10.

  28. Ava Loy says

    Seems fancy, but artless. Often on Rate the Dress, we will point out that while we don’t like a gown, we still appreciate the construction and the craftsmanship. In this case I dislike it, and it seems like sloppy construction. I think it was suppose to be asymmetrical, but it just looks like it is sliding off the mannequin. Perhaps a 1910 corset and underpinnings might fan out the bottom pleats, so I think the backside isn’t a detriment. No wait…I see the butt wreath now. Well that is unfortunate, but it might be the most charming part of this dress.


  29. Lyn Swan says

    Rate the dress gives me so much to think about. Each person sees the same dress quite differently, I suspect because we all have had such different experiences and different aesthetic sensibilities. I truly love this dress, the colors and fabric are gorgeous and it speaks to the rebel in me. The asymmetrical treatment of the bodice, fabric covered buttons and the rose wreath is on the lower back, (not the butt (sorry Daniel) even the fringe! I see this being worn by someone who is a bit of an outsider, saying “this dress has everything fashionable even if it is a bit gauche, and I love it!” It is a bit worn out, and I do believe would have been a bit lovelier when new. 8/10 for audacity and cheek.

  30. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    I like the color and fabric, and would have like to see some closeups of the construction but they aren’t available. It’s rather middle of the road for the era.

    The satin braided thing on bodice and arm is pointless and too heavy for the dress.

    I’m on the ledge about the netted fringe … part of me loves the thought of it swishing behind me as I walk and the other part of me asks “why do you have a floor mop on your skirt?”.


  31. Sam Sam says

    This could be so pretty but the more I look at it the less I seem to like it and the more the elements seem to be in conflict with each other. The fringe is an odd way to trim such a delicate fabric. The huge buttons on the sleeves. The neckline with everything agogo and some! Yes and the butt wreath.

    It’s a 4/10 from me.

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