When we bought our lovely little cottage four years ago, the master bedroom was painted purple floor to ceiling. It was awful*. When I saw today’s Rate the Dress it instantly reminded me of our previously-purple bedroom: not because it is necessarily awful, even really the same colour, but because it is a lot of purple, and because friends said of our bedroom “that colour might be really nice in something else, but not as a bedroom.”**
Last week: a 1920s day dress in printed silk
It was very easy to tell what people would give as a rating for last week’s dress, depending on what words you used for it. Those who found it ‘subtle’ or ‘delicate’ or ‘refined’ rated it above an 8, those who felt it was ‘blah’ or ‘washed out’ or a ‘sack’ gave it significantly less.
side note: Catherine says it was a rice cake: healthful but not appealing. I happen to adore rice cakes. And a whole host of other very delicately flavoured foods with dry crunchy textures. My sister once tried a new cracker, said “Ugh, this tastes just like cardboard” and then handed the packet to me and said “Here, you’ll love them”. She was not wrongThey are now my favourite crackers – preferably eaten with goats cheese or avocade, which are also ‘you either love it or you don’t’ tastes. But also totally lovely plain. Taste is so subjective! As our rating is about to show…
The Total: 7.3 out of 10
Not a universal palette pleaser then!
This week: a shot purple dress and matching cape
Now that I’ve rather put you off the dress by comparing it to the extraordinarily terrible paint job our poor bedroom once suffered from, let me assure you that other than being a lot of the same general colour, this dress has nothing in common with the bedroom. It is, in fact, one of my favourite shades of purple!
As a fashion colour we usually associate purple hues with the end of the 1850s, and the invention of aniline dyes. However, fashion plates and news articles make it clear that the colour was already becoming popular before the discovery of mauvine: Perkin’s breakthrough just helped to extend the hues notability and longevity.
The specific dark lavender shade of this dress is absolutely typical of the shades of purple that were most fashionable in the 1850s, before mauvine took over. Queen Victoria wore a dress in a nearly identical shade of purple to her eldest daughters wedding in January 1858. There is no evidence that Victoria’s dress, like this gown, was ‘shot’ or changeable silk, but it was certainly a similar colour.
This dress, with it’s perky green trim, and Victoria’s similarly hued festive frock for her daughters wedding, are evidence that another prevailing fashion history myth, that all purple and lavender clothes were half-mourning, is just that: a myth.
Fashionable woman wore different shades of purple to various celebratory events throughout the 19th and into the early 20th century without any association with mourning. There were a number of things that signalled that a woman was in mourning, or half mourning, and they went well beyond setting aside an entire colour segment exclusively for half mourning.
So, it’s not a mourning dress, and it’s not necessarily awful at all! It is a fabric that rumples and shows every crease very easily, and age has not helped that, so please don’t mark it down for its current presentation.
What do you think of all the purpleness?
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!)
* So awful that the day we took ownership I sat in the car in front of the house waiting for the realtor to show up – with paint and rollers already in the backseat. I carried them in along with our new keys!
** It was a particularly unfortunate choice of purple as a floor to ceiling bedroom. I might have been more forgiving had it been the shade of this dress!