Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Edwardian Pinafore

Pinafores and jumpers are all the rage in the sewing and fashion world at the moment, so I thought I’d get on board with the trend in Rate the Dress this week – with a pinafore-esque frock from 1906-7. And no, it’s not for a child!

Last week: a 1910s suit in purple and black

Either the Rate the Dresses I’m posting aren’t interesting a lot of people, or you are all super busy. Last week’s frock, while not attracting a lot of comments, did attract most who commented. With only two exceptions it got rave reviews: it was just what you all wanted to for a day of tea and shopping in London.

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

Two full points up on the week before!

This week: a red velvet Edwardian frock with a hint of pinaforeness

While pinafores are all the rage right now, historically we generally think of them as a child’s garment. That certainly wasn’t always the case: pinafore/jumper fronts had their moments in adult clothing as well, particularly in the 1905-17 period, and then again from the mid-1930s into the 1940s.

This week’s Rate the Dress is an early example of the fad, with a two peice dress with pinafore-effect bodice, the whole thing in red velvet and ivory lace.

Afternoon Dress: Bodice and Skirt, Anna Dunlevy (American, active 1889-1913), 1906-1907, Cincinnati/Ohio/United States, silk, cotton, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954.414a-c

The Cincinnati Art Museum describes the dress as a bodice and skirt, but the catalogue record is for a three-piece ensemble. I suspect the dress is made up of the skirt, the lace under-blouse, and the pinafore portion, which is attached to the belt. I’ve certainly seen patterns from this era for similar ‘jumper-bodices and belt’ get-ups.

Afternoon Dress: Bodice and Skirt, Anna Dunlevy (American, active 1889-1913), 1906-1907, Cincinnati/Ohio/United States, silk, cotton, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954.414a-c

If that is the case, there might have been the option of wearing the skirt and bodice without the belt and suspender-y, pinafore bit, or switching out the bodice.

What do you think? Does this leave you jumping for joy, sartorially speaking? Or are you suspending disbelief that anyone thought this was a good idea, and bracing yourself for the onslaught of terrible scores?

(I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. I’m tired, and the tireder I am, the worse the puns!

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.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. 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, my goodness! I think that this is the prettiest you have posted yet. (Of, course it may just be that I have a weakness for anything Edwardian or pinafore styled)
    Such a beautiful gown, so elegant. It is over all really balance and tasteful. Fancy without being gaudy or ridiculous.
    I say 10 out of 10.

  2. I keep thinking I ought to find something to critique, but every time I look at this I sigh in envy.

    The fabric of the skirt/pinafore is so deep and rich, and the lace of the blouse is exquisite and a beautiful contrast of complex/delicate to the simplicity of the skirt/pinafore

    I also have a fondness for Edwardian style (mostly because the lines are fairly natural and I could wear it without breaking something.


    10 of 10

  3. Nzie says

    I almost always check but rarely comment being newer to historical costuming. But I just love this! So here I am to say, 10!

  4. If I could rate this 100 I would! this is one of my favorite dresses you have posted! I love everything about this. I would wear it all the time if I had it!!! 10/10

  5. The color scheme is lovely, as are the lace and the velvet fabric, but I can’t bring myself to like it. It has a costumey feel, to me, that detracts from its better qualities. The trim on the skirt and the floral design of the “suspenders” further compounds the costumey quality.

    6 out of 10.

  6. Rachel says

    Very elegant, with lots of lovely details, but it feels a bit too heavy and discordant to me. It’d certainly be a lot easier for me to like without the braces, but then it would also be a lot more forgettable. But it has nicely fussy sleeves. But the braces…

    It has such pretty elements, but it leaves me with a faint feeling of confusion. I guess to me it feels like less than the sum of its parts.


    • Buttercup says

      This is very pretty and lush looking. I think the straps of the pinafore detract from the overall effect. 9/10

  7. Sam Sam says

    I love the colours together, it’s just so plush, the cream makes the red look so sumptuous!

    I can’t find anything I don’t like about it!


  8. Lillianne says

    It’s charming. I love the rich colour and the lushness of the fabric. 10/10

  9. Merrie Hightower says

    I have always loved this dress and would love to recreate it. I give it a solid 10 ❤️

  10. Tracy Ragland says

    I like this so much! The velvet is plush, the lace is frothy, the silhouette is perfect. However, it seems just a bit too over the top. It’s like a 1950’s movie musical costume for someone playing a peppermint princess. 8:10

  11. Carmen Beaudry says

    I want to make this to wear for Yule.

  12. JessieRoo says

    How could anyone not love what is essentially the dress version of a fresh cherry pie topped by a lovely, generous puff of lightly sweetened and vanilla flavored whipped cream?! (can you tell I have a background in baking/pastry production?) Not only can I not find anything to fault, but I would very happily wear this myself.

  13. Carol Ortery says

    My first thought was costume, but I remember wearing this style when I was young, though I never remember seeing an adult wearing the pinafore at any time. I have to accept that this was a style at one point. I love the colors. In fact I have a Christmas tree skirt that my mother made in this very same velvet and lace. That may also contribute to my initial reaction to the dress. Looking at it objectively, the cut is wonderful and I like the soft gather to the waistband. I find I can’t get past the odd angle at which the braces are attached to the waistband. Perhaps the woman who wore this was more busty and that pulled the fold out of the material? Perhaps the braces attach with a single button, which would be a design issue for me as braces do tend to slip off shoulders, which is one of the reasons why men’s attach with 2 on each side. Because of this I will have to take off a point and give this a 9/10.

  14. Kathy Hanyok says

    This would be great for Christmas. The lace blouse is to die for and the velvet lush. Not so much a fan of the suspended part although the embroidery is pretty. You did say I don’t have to wear it. 9

  15. Susan Stein says

    The idea of a pinafore is protective and makes sense given the fashion years of war and financial downturn. However, this outfit dies not convey caution and economy. It is Marie Antoinette playing Mrs. Patnore. I love its whimsy. 10/10.

  16. Robin says

    This is gorgeous. Love the era, love the fabric, love the versatile styling. Pinafores were “in” in the 1980s too, in fact the very first dress I ever made myself was a checked pinafore (plaid jumper ). I did a bad job, somehow the checks in the skirt were crooked.
    I love this and give it 10

  17. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I like it. A lot. It looks simultaneously luxe and young, and I love the contrast of white and ruby red, the textures of the lace and the velvet, and the pattern on the braces. Often dresses of this era can look very “mature” but this feels quite fresh. The only pause I had was with the hem trimming as where it goes up into the knot detail, I kind of felt like there ought to be something in the arch of the trim, like a cheeky white lace ruffle peekaboo, but at the same time it doesn’t need that. But yes, it made me pause, so it has to be

    9. 5/10

  18. Christina Kinsey says

    Oh my goodness, do they do it in my size I wonder.The red velvet and the creamy lace work so well together. I love the thought of being able to get different looks, by swopping around the blouse part say ? I could see myself in this, with a modern twist for winter (polo neck maybe) ,or swooshing around Rochester in the outfit as is
    Its a 10

  19. Crumpled Rag says

    I like the red and cream, they make a striking outfit, and the lacework in the sleeve cuffs with the red in them is pretty. I would happily wear the skirt and blouse, but would entirely ditch the dungaree/brace section.


  20. Elaine says

    I love everything about this except the braces. If the braces were not a separate piece, I’d give this a 6. Because you said it could be worn without the braces, 9/10.

  21. Cynthia Amneus says

    Hello all! I am the fashion arts curator at the Cincinnati Art Museum and thought I would let you know that this dress is a three-piece ensemble because it includes a petticoat, which is not seen in the photograph. The bodice is one piece, so the red parts are not removable. It’s a great dress by one of my favorite Cincinnati dressmakers – Anna Dunlevy. If you want to know more about her, there is information in the exhibition catalog called A Separate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age, 1877-1922. Thanks for sharing our dress!

  22. Nicole B. says

    Mmm, another gorgeous selection. I love that frothy lace and trumpet skirt, and the monochrome embroidery and swaggy border on the hem are a discreet icing on the cake. It’s a pity the photos aren’t of higher resolution; I would love to study the details in more depth.

    The dress is a real sweetheart.


  23. Charlotte Mueller says

    I think this dress is beautiful! The red is one of my favorite colors and the skirt cut of this period are so elegant. The pinafore bracers are not one of my favorite styles, but they quite lovely with their contrasting textures and embroidery. I would prefer the ensemble without, but I would wear it with the bracers happily. I love the contrast between the rich velvet and the frothy white lace. 10/10

  24. India says

    It looks exactly like a costume for a production of an operetta about a Ruritanian princess who dresses as a peasant to go out and about to meet real people. It’s lovely and I’d feel fabulous wearing it but it would always feel like a dressing up dress and not a proper dressed up dress. I’d like to mark it higher but can’t so ……
    7.5 for Ruritanian loveliness

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    It’s so Alps and “Heidi all grown up” I expect to hear yodeling.

    Definitely a young matron’s dress, and oddly charming. The velvet is lush and restrained – a less stylish dressmaker would have tarted it up and lost the lush sweep of skirt.

    (I wanted some lace on the skirt)

    9.5 of 10

  26. Love it! And like others, I would happily wear it (assuming an Edwardian corset could turn me out the right size and shape – doubtful).

  27. I love the fabrics and the silhouette, but I don’t love the embroidery on the top. I find it rather disjointed and chunky looking, and I don’t think it goes well with the rest of the dress.
    But ooh, the velvet!


  28. dropping stitches says

    How can you go wrong with such a luxe red velvet? The pinafore does take some getting used to. The skirt cuts such a gorgeous silhouette. I love it and want a velvet skirt like it for me! The lacy sleeves and bows are Christmasy in a good way. It does remind me of the Nutcracker ballet, but hey, you could dance in this, so it’s all good!


  29. I have a bad habit of checking for RtD when I’m not ready/able to comment, and then losing enough time that I miss getting mine in. >.<

    I wish I could do more than just comment with this one, though! Like make it mine and wear it forever. Oh my god. It's like some kind of vampire dirndl that has drained all the blood from the brain cells I need to do anything other than gibber and peep at it. It's got the red, it's got the ruffly lace, it's got the grown-up version of the little-girl top… It might be going on the list of things I really need to make one day.


  30. Veronica says

    I too forget to check in with posts, and I also have the habit of it I’m not enamoured with one of the dresses, I won’t comment because I won’t be very fair. This dress, initially, seemed a little young with the pinafore detailing, but that luscious red and cream combination has won me over. Still not convinced about the lower lace puff just above the skirt but oh well. Very Edwardian.

  31. Helen says

    The blouse is a little fussy for my tastes but that skirt is absolutely beautiful.


  32. Hmmmm…… I love the color, and the skirt looks like it would sweep amazingly as she moved. The skirt is gorgeous, but I’m not loving the pinafore look.
    It feels a bit oversized and not fitting right.


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