Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Red Velvet Worth

This week’s Rate the Dress, like last week’s dress, comes with both a day and an evening bodice.  In contrast to last week’s pastel confection, this week’s choice is in deep red velvet.

Last week:  an 1865 Robe à transformation

The theme of gala frocks is sitting well with you: last week’s dress was another success.  You loved both the aesthetic of the dress, and the practicality.  It may have been in delicate, pale silk, but at least the wearer was getting as much use as possible out of it.  The few points the ensemble lost was for the colours.  Not everyone loved the gold & lavender, or the ochre sash that went with the day dress.

The Total:  9.4 out of 10

Not quite the most popular dress we’ve had in December, but still a fabulously good score!

This week: a House of Worth  Robe à transformation  in red velvet

The House of Worth may have been the pinnacle of high fashion in the Victorian era, but even its august and moneyed clientele wanted to get the most out of their clothing spend, and there are numerous examples of Worth  Robe à transformation.

It comes with both a long sleeved bodice, all in velvet, and a lower cut bodice, lavishly trimmed with lace.  Both are likely to have been worn for evening events, though the long sleeved bodice would also have been appropriate for formal afternoon events.

Both bodices feature the exaggerated puffed sleeves of the early 1890s.

The lower cut bodice has softer, slightly drooping sleeves with slits, which, combined with the lace, evoke an element of 17th century historicism.

The slit sleeves give a glimpse of lush, beaded undersleeves.

The more covered up bodice gets its interest and drama from the draping and manipulation of the silk velvet fabric:

And from a slightly whimsical, jester-esque back peplum:

What do you think of this very festive, seasonal Rate the Dress?

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!)


  1. Oh Oh Oh!!!!! All the deliciousness! I wasn’t sure about the off the shoulder bodice until I worked out what was going on then I fell for it. I love it all, love the texture and drape and energy and grace of the lines and the historic vibe of the evening bodice and OH!
    10. I would give it 18 if I could!!!

    • Lynne says

      I didn’t read your post until I had posted mine! Both of us want to go off the rating chart! And we are right!

  2. Gillian Stapleton says

    Is anyone else like me, wishing they could touch this dress? That velvet looks almost edible.

  3. Oh, my.

    It’s hard to say no to lush red velvet, especially on Christmas! However, I like the evening gown version better–the white lace provides a bit of extra ornament that the day dress lacks, though I don’t care for the awkward shape in which that lace is deployed, especially in the back.

    Not a color or style I could wear, but lovely and nearly perfect in its own way.

    9.5 out of 10.

  4. The day bodice is the one I particularly love, and I echo the sentiment that I want to reach out and touch it.
    There’s just something about the lace overlay of the evening bodice that bothers me, and I can’t figure out what.

    10 for day, 8 for evening, so 9 overall

  5. Rosemary Regan says

    I think that what is wrong-ish about the lace is how it connects to the bodice. It looks lumpy and unfinished, along the decolletage, not really the clean Worth style that the rest of the dress embodies.

  6. Vancouver Barbara says

    I love the covered-up look. Utterly delicious. I want a modern version. The colour is sublime. 10

  7. Heather Hoffmann says

    Really gorgeous! the color is lovely and I definitely want to reach out and touch the dress. I’m with some of the others in not 100% loving the way the lace sits on the evening bodice, but I adore the sleeves! One point lost for the lace, but still an amazing dress. 9/10.

  8. Lynne says

    May I have 11 out of 10, just this once? Okay, 10.

    Oh, my! I was loving the cover-up look – so very smart and rich. Then you hit me with the beaded lace undersleeves on the evening top, and I lost my heart and made little incoherent noises of appreciation and yearning! The lace is amazing by itself, but adding pearls to it, just lifts it into another realm.

    Love the shape and the line and the little jester tails. And so much red velvet! Gorgeous!

  9. Lyn Swan says

    Sorry if this shows up twice, I am submitting a second time.

  10. Sam Sam says

    I love it, the day dress is so Gibson Girl! The draping is perfect, you can certainly see why so many of societies grand dames and debutantes wanted Worth to make their dresses.

    The pearl detailing on the sleeves and the lace is beautiful and certainly gives the impression of Cavaliers or Three Musketeers.

    It has to be a 10/10

  11. Jules says

    Oof! Dress of my dreams! Loving the rich velvet, and the contrasting lace, and the draping, and those beaded inner sleeves?! *swoon*

    10/10, easy.

  12. Heather says

    The versatility with the 2 bodices is appealing. And the brilliant red would have made a stunning Christmas gown.

  13. Lisa H says

    Easy 10. As a busty gal, the day bodice would do me no favors but it’s just so lush! Anyone but me would look amazing!!

  14. Altariel says

    10, it’s so luxurious in every way and I have to touch it! Must weigh a ton though..

  15. GK Coombs says

    Ten, what is not to love? Both versions are outstanding.

  16. Rowan Moonstone says

    Definitely a 10. My very favorite Worth dress. As a beadworker, I’m totally in awe of those sleeves.

  17. JessieRoo says

    Ruby red is my favorite color, especially in a velvet that gives it that much more richness. I’ve always loved both of these dresses without realizing they are one and the same! They’re/it’s one of the best examples of 1890’s style: dramatic and sculptural without being overly fussy, and each version is just as dreamy as the other. It would be a dream to recreate both versions-I guess I better start saving for all that velvet and lace!

  18. Debbie Farthing says

    Definitely 10 out of 10. Love the daytime look, although from the wear it looks like the evening bodice was worn more. There’s nothing like vintage velvet – I would love to feel this too!

  19. Janine says

    Oh my gosh, this is so beautifull, the rich red velvet is amazing.
    I prefer the day bodice with the straight but drapped front. The evening bodice looks a bit wonky in my eyes.
    Merry Cristmas
    9.5 / 10

  20. Lisa W says

    Oh no, I’m going to be so out of line with everyone else’s comments! All I see when I look at the high-necked version is a leg of lamb and when the lace is added for the evening bodice it becomes a raw steak…

    While I admire the restrained draping of the form, that large expanse of blood red (a colour that I do love) just doesn’t work for me I’m afraid. To my eyes, the block effect of the dense velvet is not broken up sufficiently by the elegant draping on the day bodice and unfortunately the sleeves add to the fleshy vibe. I’m sure the effect would be different when the dress is moving with its wearer but I can’t unsee the meatiness 🙁

    Normally I’d be all over those beautifully worked pearl inserts in the evening version, but I don’t like them combined with the lace at all. My favourite view is from the back (that gathering/pleating!) and based on that I’ll give it a 4/10.

  21. Karen Motylewski says

    Glorious, shape(s), color, and tactility (a word? Sense of feel under hand). It would make me feel like royalty. 10/10!

  22. Claire Payne says

    I like the slit sleeve on the evening bodice revealing the beaded lace sleeve beneath and I like the shade of red but apart from that I feel like the rest of the dress is missing something. With sleeves so puffy on the day bodice, I suppose extra detail would be over doing it but the skirt in particular seems very plain. I would never have guessed this was a Worth dress. After last week’s enthusiastic 10, I am afraid this week’s score is…

    …3 out of 10. Sorry! I’m just not feeling the love.

    • Claire Payne says

      I forgot to say that most of the marks were lost for the jester style detail on the bustle. Oh my!

  23. Christina Kinsey says

    I love the dress, in fact I would happily have a version made in my size if I had a decent lottery win, as even at wholesale prices
    , silk velvet is not cheap. The day bodice is the one I go for as the draping is beautiful, the big sleeves look lovely on my narrow shouldered, big busted shape…. Instant hourglass. The evening bodice is pretty but the off the shoulder style is not for me. The lace is beautiful and the split sleeves are a unusal and attractive feature of the dress. Perhaps a bit more flare to the skirt at the front for me would look good, so I would give it a 9. And if there is a pattern, in a 28w….please.?

  24. Worth dress making excellent use of my favourite colour? With options for both day and evening? And a gorgeous colour match in lace and beadwork? Is it Christmas? Why, yes it is, and this is the most exquisite gift!

    This has just gone and added itself to the list of dresses I have to remake. 10/10 for sure!

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Oh my. I want to fondle that fabric.

    I associate the house of Worth with more frou-frou and trim. The unrelieved red velvet of the high necked piece is uncharacteristic of the period, which makes it more of a fashion statement. But that much velvet also says “I’m really, really rich. and don’t need gew-gaws.”

    The low-cut bodice slashed sleeves are delightful. The lace around the neckline is lovely, but turns awkward over the sleeves because it doesn’t pouf well.

    9.5 (minus half for the sleeves)

  26. Kelly Crawford says

    I love a velvet dress. The lace on the low cut bodice is stunning and I like the detail of the slit sleeves. The draping on the high neck bodice us beautiful. Having said that, I’m not a fan of necklines that are that high, they always look suffocating to me. I also don’t like the huge sleeves of the 1890s, Anne Shirley I am not.
    Still the whole ensemble is exquisitely made.
    I am going to give it a 9.

  27. Carol Ortery says

    I really love the wonderful red and the draping of the day bodice and I’ve always been a fan of those high collars. I wish there was some accent to break up the red, though. The texture from the draping and the jester bustle just aren’t enough to keep me from going into overload. I really do NOT like the length of the lace on the front bodice that effectively hides the narrow waist and make the dress look dowdy. It also distracts from the beautiful beaded lace under sleeves revealed by the slits. The gorgeous red would seem hard to overpower but that lace has done it. 7/10

    • Tsu Dho Nimh says

      I think there might have been a brooch or something on the upper drape, because it looks unfinished. Put something sparkly there.

  28. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    If you follow the link under any picture, there are images of the waist stay and bodice boning. This is engineering as much as fashion. That velvet does not hold itself up.

  29. Deanna says

    Oooh! The long sleeved bodice is faaabulous! Gorgeous red velvet, and what a shape. The dress in that configuration is a 10 for me. The lower cut bodice looks very good from the back, I don’t care so much for the front or side views.


  30. Margaret says

    I adore red velvet for Christmas. The sculpture of the draped bodice is exquisite and so very elegant, draws the eye to allow a shape so desired in the era. The fabric itself is so lush, you would glow in candle or has gaslight. The drape.and train of the skirt are perfect. I like the lace, the renaissance touch is so apparent in the slit sleeves and the gold lining there sets the blonde lace glowing, the points draw the eye to the slender waist. I would so have worn this dress! I find nothing to dislike, and everything to love in it. A most emphatic 10/10.

  31. Margaret says

    That should have been candle or gaslight. Darn auto correct!

  32. Crumpled Rag says

    A lovely colour, and I particularly like the evening bodice, but for me the red velvet day bodice doesn’t really work so well, it is somewhat overpowering especially with the large sleeve puffs.

  33. Cirina says

    I like it, except the lace on the evening bodice. It’s disproportionate.

  34. Louise says

    10/10. The richness of colour and the fabric is enhances the styling for me. Just stunning.

  35. One can never go wrong with velvet, red or Worth. This is one of my favorite gowns from the 1890s.


  36. I do not like the lace version. The lace just seems kind of tacked on and doesn’t seem to fit.
    However, I love the day version, it’s just beautiful.


  37. Ava Loy says

    I love velvet and the ruby color. I’m not swooning over the draping over the bust on the long sleeve option, or the lace in the front. The lace looks like they added a special heirloom accessory that they were afraid to alter, so it appears oversized and it bullies the dress. The slit sleeves add a lot of textural interest. The cream or white lining seems to hint at a secret world of luxury inside the sleeve. I love the fun peplum, too.


  38. Lauren says

    Blech that evening bodice lace looks like someone flung raw pizza dough around the neckline! But the day version is SO beautiful that I want to give it more than a 10. What I wouldn’t give to swan around in it! And the shade is just perfect.

    10/10 from me!

  39. It’s fascinating how the different bodices turn it into two very different dresses.
    And I like both of them. The short-sleeved one takes a bit more getting used to from my modern perspective, but it’s also clever.

  40. Lillianne Barrett says

    I love the color and the beautiful drape of the day bodice, but the lace on the evening bodice makes me think “tablecloth” so can’t give more than 8/10.

Comments are closed.