The Rate the Dress before last was spring-heading-into-summer, last weeks was autumn-heading-into-winter, this week I’m combining both trans seasonal trends in one vivid green outer garment.
Last week: an 1890s dress in dark green ribbed velvet and chiffon, with appliquéd polka dots, puffed sleeves and more
Ratings for last week’s Hallée dress fell into two distinct camps: loves, with an average rating of 9.5, or people who thought it was too quirky, with an average rating of 7.
Which, for once, is exactly what I’d predicted the response would be. Usually I have some theories, and then some of the responses come completely out of left field, but this time I was spot on (haha).
The Total: 8.3 out of 10
A rating that reflects almost no-ones scoring!
This week: a bright spring green pelisse
It took me a long time to find the right garment to feature for Rate the Dress this week. I finally decided to stick with my trans-seasonal theme, with an overgarment for keeping you cozy in cold weather, in very fresh, spring-y colours.
This late ‘teens pelisse would be worn over a dress, like a full length coat. Although an outside garment, it was clearly worn more for fashion than practicality. The figured sarcenet silk would spot if it got wet, and is too thin to add much warmth.
The pelisse features lavish dyked trim and non-working decorative buttons which run down the entire front of the dress-coat.
Note the piped edges of the trim, which varies between single and triple rows of piping.
It’s possible that the vivid green trim of the pelisse is Scheele’s Green, the so-called arsenic green, but it’s highly unlikely. The use of arsenic green as a dye for fabric, particularly silk, is hugely exaggerated in pop culture fashion history. Scheele’s Green is a pigment, rather than a dye: it was painted on to surfaces, so was used in wallpaper, leatherwork, and to colour paper leaves for fake flowers, etc. It wasn’t particularly suitable for applying to fabric – particularly not silk. In addition to being highly toxic, Scheele’s Green contains copper, which is very unstable when combined with sulphur, which all silk contains. When it was applied to fabric it was usually linen and cotton. On silk it would darken and discolour very quickly.
There are bright green mid-Victorian silk dresses which have been identified as being dyed with Scheele’s Green based on tests which determined that they contained arsenic – but I’m not entirely convinced that the tests ruled out arsenic contamination from other sources. Arsenic was a popular pest deterrent well into the 20th century, and I’ve worked for museums that had entire historical collections that had been treated with arsenic in the 19th and early 20th century to protect them from insect and rodent damage. Every dress in those collections would probably test positive for arsenic.
Finally, this isn’t arsenic green, because it isn’t arsenic green: the colour isn’t right for arsenic green, which is more emerald, and less yellow spring-green-y (but since every third dress of any shade of green, from any date between 1750 and 1930 that I’ve posted on IG in the last four months has gotten at least one “oooh, it’s poisonous, it’s arsenic green” comment I’m heading things off at the pass! 😉 )
So, please consider the aesthetic merits of this garment without worrying that it made its wearer very ill, as that’s most unlikely.
(climbs down from soapbox)
What do you think of it?
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! And 0 is not on a scale of 1 to 10. Thanks in advance!)