Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Raspberry pink 1870s with two types of fringe

Woman's Dress Ensemble, United States, circa 1870, Silk taffeta, linen plain weave, and cotton twill weave with silk macrame fringe, LACMA, M.2007.211.773a-d

After all the excitement of the festive fancy frock-a-thon, it was hard to pick an ensemble that wouldn’t seem like a letdown for this week’s Rate the Dress.  Hopefully this week’s pick is interesting enough to pique your interest, even if it isn’t a glittering evening gown.

Last week: a sparkly, pleated, bow-bedecked 1920s frock

Last week’s 1920s dress didn’t receive quite the enthusiastic reception that heralded the House of Worth frock of the week before – at least in the number of commenters.  Those that did rate it, however, quite liked it (except the bow), and so it received exactly the same rating!

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

I was very surprised by how many people didn’t like the bow (and didn’t realise that it was exactly the same fabric as the bodice – it just appears different because you’re seeing many layers of it).  Rachel’s comment sums up exactly how I feel about the bow and the dress.  Without it, I thought the dress would actually have been very boring and ordinary.  But, of course, different opinions are what make Rate the Dress interesting!

This week: a ca 1870 dress in deep raspberry pink, with two types of fringing

This ca. 1870 dress is a classic example of the transition from the hoopskirt era to the first bustle era.  There is still significant fullness in the skirt, with the addition of definite back projection.

The raspberry pink shade is typical of the bright hues favoured throughout the 1860s and into the 1870s.  It’s hard to tell if the slight colour difference across the dress are the result of fading and dye changes, and are not original to the dress, or if they are intentional (or a combination of both).  The hem ruffles do seem to be a distinctly darker hue than the rest of the dress.  The macrame fringe may have once coordinated with them perfectly, but has faded more than the rest.

The dress is decorated with self-fabric pleated trim with unravelled fringed edges, additional macrame fringing, and deep pleats at the hem.

It’s definitely frillier and more ornamented that 1860s fashions, but hasn’t yet hit the extravagance of every type of ornamentation and trim that is seen in later 1870s fashions.

So, what do you think of this dress that sits between the screaming brights of the initial aniline craze, and the darker, heavier hues of the 1880s; between the enormously wide skirts of the elliptical crinoline and the enormously bustly-bustle of the first bustle era; between the relative simplicity of the 1860s and the ornamented extravagance of the late 1870s?

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. The color is fine. It’s not my favorite shade among the reds, but I wouldn’t complain about it.

    I am of two minds about the decoration. The way the two kinds of fringe are combined is clever; it looks particularly well in the side view. But on the sleeves, and in closer views, the fringe has an odd, bushy quality that looks strange, and the criss-cross fringing over the upper back area of the skirt looks amateurish to me.

    7.5 out of 10 (my typical rating for a dress that doesn’t strike me as unattractive but does not fill me with overwhelming love, either).

  2. The color is striking, but for me the ornamentation just looks shaggy, although I admit that it my simply be a case of my preference for a more restrained style of trim rather than a lack of skill in the design or application.

    Still, 8 of 10

  3. Heather says

    I love the color and style of the dress, but I’m in agreement that the trim looks a little shaggy. It’s still lovely overall though.


  4. Ava Loy says

    The macrame trim is fine, but pleated trim is messy. It detracts from the dress, instead of enhancing the gown. From afar, the sleeves look elegant with the unraveled fringe. So I try to imagine it in a new state. All fringe lined up neatly, like eyelashes. The lighting in these photos in’t doing the dress any favors, either. I just can’t imagine it as being beautiful as a new gown. Maybe black accessories would ground this? Contrasting buttons, a brooch that wasn’t the same value as the dress? It’s almost beautiful. But it is both cheerful and a downer at the same time.

    • I disliked this a lot on first glance, but contextualizing has completely changed my view. The color, shape and silhouette, and decoration are all so very transitional. The wearer must have been very proud of her fashion sense!

      9/10, particularly for the shape of it all that sat so weirdly with me at first!

  5. Sharon Grossman says

    8 out of 10. It’s lovely. The color is bright. I like the eyelash trim with the tassel trim. The ruffles make it very fluffy and fun. I like that the bands of trim are at different parts of the dress. Therefore, it doesn’t overpower the gown.

  6. Tracy Ragland says

    I’m in love with this dress’s silhouette, but not so much with the dress itself. First reason is my general dislike of pink. The other reason is that the self-trimming looks unkempt.


  7. Buttercup says

    My first reaction to this dress was that I didn’t like it but the more I look at it the more I am finding to appreciate. The colour and the trim is fine and the overall shape is good. Probably the only thing I don’t like is the neckline which is a bit too closed up and shuts down the whole look a bit. 8/10

  8. Madeleine Rose says

    I love the pleated trim … and very little else. I do like the shade of red of the dress silk (except for the bottom ruffles, which are obviously a different fabric). I might have liked the macrame fringe by itself, but not in combination with the pleated fringe.

    On the strength of my love for the fringed, pleated trim, I rate this dress:


  9. Christina Kinsey says

    On the whole I do like the dress. It has a lovely simplicity, and the raw edge frill trim seems to be back in fashion. The variations in colour are quite attractive too, I wonder if it was a shot fabric that was cut in a different direction for the hem frill. The trimming on the back does look mismatched, perhaps someone was trying to be a bit over ambitious and didn’t quite get it right.
    I would rate it 8.5

  10. Crumpled Rag says

    I love the raspberry colour, although I don’t generally wear pink myself. The pleating and fringe would be fine without the unravelled edges. The overall shape is lovely and I want to make one in bottle green!


  11. Sam Sam says

    Love this dress too but probably even more than the last one you posted. Yes, the trim is a bit tatty but when you get to 150 years old I think we’re all allowed a bit of tatty trim! I really like the trim on the bustle and how the skirt trim is echoing the shape of the bustle and it’s trim.


  12. Laura Macfehin says

    I love it! I have made a whole lot of this trim myself (and it was too thick to go through the machine too so that was a whole lot of hand stitching) and I have a soft spot for 1870s dresses in general but I love everything about this especially the raspberry ice block colour!

  13. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    I love the color – once had a vin rose that color that was astounding.

    There is too much or too little macrame fringe. If there had been enough to use under all the horizontal pleated trim it might have been better. Or if it had been left off completely. As it is, on the bustle and lowest round of trim, it has a “look what I found in the remnant box” feeling to it.

    The bodice is oddly barren.


  14. Mimsy says

    The close up view of the fringetastic detail is too bristly for my taste, but taken as a whole the fringe fits well into the overall design without going full-on lampshade. This dress reminds me of some exotic deep sea creature, maybe a nudibranch (which is, to me, a point in its favor).

    However, I haaaate the rings of fringe on the sleeves. I wish they’d designed those rings at an angle or something. Or left it to just two rings of fringe at the cuff. As is, the lady’s lower arms remind me of some Sesame Street character’s legs.

    Full disclosure I’ve never liked fringe and am always biased against it.


  15. Ugh, I keep losing time and not realizing there are new RTD!

    I’m not huge on the trim on the bustle, but I can live with it for the rest of the dress. Big skirt + pink? Yesplease. *_*


  16. Jill Corbie says

    I love this dress! I love the deep dark pink color and the lower shoulder seams and the larger buttons. I like the kinda fuzziness that the unravelled trim has– it’s pretty but doesn’t look over-decorated or too busy since it’s close to the same color as the dress itself, and it somehow seems sensible to me. As if it would have been worn for a special occasion by a lady who usually wore clothing with little ornamentation.

    I have no idea why it appeals to me so much. I usually dislike pink and don’t particularly like bustle period dresses. But this dress just gives me a good vibe.

    I would love to see it styled with a shawl and a hat and boots!


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