Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Red & White Regency (with shoes!)

It’s entry #2 in my series of ‘Rate all the Party Dresses’.  This week we’re going back in time 210 years, and rating a formal Regency gown.  It’s a particularly exciting rating, because it also includes the shoes worn with the dress.

Last week:  a bright orange silk and embroidered net party frock from 1916

The reviews for last week’s frock were a very happy surprise.  I was afraid many of you would find it too bold and outrageous – but just one did.   I’m always delighted when you love a dress, and even more so when I’m really not sure you will.

(of course, it would be terribly boring if every one of you just adored everything, so don’t worry if you don’t!)

The Total: 9.5 out of 10

Definitely a belle of the ball dress!

This week: an 1800s dress – and the shoes to match

I found the bare footed mannequin that last week’s dress was displayed on rather disconcerting, so this week I picked an evening gown where we know what shoes it was worn with.  A museum’s choice of accessories can make or break a rating, and while this dress is otherwise shown un-accessorised, the shoes give us an authentic glimpse into how it looked when first worn.

The dress is a typical classically inspired Regency gown, with raised waist, brief bodice, and short sleeves, all intended to evoke Grecian drapery.

The simple shape is enlivened by embroidery in fine red wool.  Little scrolling floral motifs cover the skirt, and borders of modified ‘Greek Key’ or ‘Meander’ motifs follow the hem and divide the front of the skirt, emphasising the vertical lines of the frock.

The MFA Boston describes the ground of the dress as ‘cotton gauze’. The gown is probably made from gauze in the more generic sense: a very lightweight fabric with a slightly open weave, rather than the technical sense: a fabric with a leno weave.

The red and white slippers that accompany the dress feature a wide, low heel, and painted stripes that, like the embroidered lines of the dress, emphasise the fashionable shape of the shoe: in this case, the pointed toe.

So, with dress and shoes to imagine together, what do you think of our Regency Cinderella?

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, this is lovely – both sophisticated and fresh. The bold color of the embroidery helps to enliven a style often regarded as insipid,

    The shoes are delightful, but because they don’t show underneath the dress hem, my high score is strictly on the dress itself.

  2. Gillian Stapleton says

    I always love Regency gowns, and the fabulous embroidery is the perfect contrast to the simplicity of the design. And the shoes, the little shoes!


  3. Heather says

    Gorgeous dress and the embroidery is lovely! I adore the matching shoes. Regency has never been my favorite silhouette, which is the only thing keeping this from being a perfect score for me. 9/10

  4. Gorgeous of gorgeouses! There’s something about a gown that nails everything about a particular period in fashion but also manages to be interesting.

    10/10 defo

  5. ChristobelF says

    This is a fine example of regency elegance. Simple yet very effective decoration and love the frothy lightness of the gauze material. Gorgeous matching shoes. 9/10.

  6. The embroidery is exquisite, but the bodice and sleeves are so thin that it looks like a nightgown with a train. It could also use a matching ribbon belt around the elevated waist line. The shoes are very ordinary in comparison, though the colors at least attempt to match the dress (the shoes have faded more than the dress embroidery, alas).

    7.5 out of 10 from me.

  7. Alyssa Hogan says

    The whole dress is quite pretty, but the straight lines on the slippers don’t match the elaborate embroidery on the dress.

  8. Donna Wolff says

    8/10 I find the contrast of very thin fabric and wool embroidery interesting as well as the contrast of red and white. I can’t help but picture myself when assessing and it’s not a 10 because not flattering for my body type. Shoes probably a delight in the era.

  9. Abigail says

    A lovely dress! At first I thought it seemed a bit too thin, but I think that actually makes it more appealing when I look at it more and more. The red is gorgeous and I love the pattern they chose to put on it.
    I don’t like the shoes too much, but since this is Rate That DRESS, I’ll just score the dress: 9/10.
    It loses a point because it’s not my favorite. Very pretty, but it doesn’t have as much charm as other dresses I’ve seen if that makes sense.

  10. Madeleine says

    I absolutely adore white sheer Regency gowns with red embroidery, and this embroidery (in wool!❤️) is just extraordinary! There is literally nothing I don’t love about this dress!

    A perfect 10

  11. This is lovely! The light fabric would be comfortable to wear on a warm evening. The coordinating shoes are amazing! I like this dress a lot! If I could give it more than a 10 I would.

  12. Sam Sam says

    Very pretty and delicate, just what an Empire gown should be. You can just imagine this being worn with a dampened petticoat to highlight the wearers figure.

  13. JessieRoo says

    I want this dress for myself!!! The shoes…not as exciting, but still rather nice. I’d prefer solid red, though.

  14. I find myself out of step here. I love the embroidery and the shoes and like the color, but I find the dress itself boring. The bodice is barely defined, and it’s otherwise just a tube with a train tacked on. I generally prefer simplicity, but this one has crossed over to dull for me.

  15. Meeko says

    So sheer and delicate. I would love to wear this, prehaps with a red coral necklace. 8/10.

  16. Bridget Clancy says

    Oh those shoes! Why don’t they make shoes that pretty nowadays? Srsly, I have been considering taking up shoemaking due to much time spent staring longingly at lovely 18th & early 19th c shoes.

    Ok, so the dress is a nice example of its era. So many delicate white dresses from this era, lovely as they are, they can all blend together after awhile. It’s actually surprising ladies didn’t get tired of ubiquitous white sooner. The red embroidery at least distinguishes it slightly. I wonder if said embroidery is tambour. The tambour technique was super trendy at this time, and iirc it was often done in wool. Oh, the description says “chain stitch”, I would bet money it’s tambour(which looks the same as chain stitch, it’s the technique and tools used that differentiate it). Anyway the dress is flattering, I like it, but I feel there is little remarkable about it. It’s a fine example of the fashions of its era. I have seen things from this era I like more. And my own personal taste tends towards the quirky, the eccentric, the bold, even the absurd. This is a nice dress. It’s nice. That’s about all I can think to say.

  17. Nannynorfolk says

    A nice dress and so unusual to see matching shoes, ones that you could actually wear now. Interesting to see that they have little heels and that they aren’t completely flat as most illustration show. I’m giving the whole outfit

  18. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Very much a classic “little white dress” of its era … but the maker or embroiderer says an emphatic no to the idea of unadorned white wisps of clothing.

    Love the shoes.
    It needs a red ribbon sash at the bodice, perhaps.
    The motifs are not as well-placed as they might have been on the bodice, but the train edging is lovely.
    The cut is the usual Regency minimalist dress.


  19. Crumpled Rag says

    It doesn’t shout party dress to me. It lacks any real details, no sash round the waistline or edges to the sleeves, all the embroidery makes it look like a lovely day dress, but the train doesn’t fit that purpose, so it looks like an unsuccessful hybrid to me. I like the shoes, but I don’t think the stripes go with the dress.

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