Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Suited to the Teens

Last weeks Rate the Dress was all frothy ballgown, so this week I’m going all serious and businesslike, with a 1910s suit. Of course, while it is a suit, it’s also Edwardian, so there is detail within the detail of the detail of the suit!

Last week: an 1830s evening gown in white with green trims

I honestly thought there would be more comments on last week’s Rate the Dress, because it was such an interesting dress! But perhaps people were having busy weeks. Or perhaps it was just too subtle and not obviously interesting enough…

In any case, some of you thought it absolutely delightful and charming, but alas, some of you thought it drooped, was overly be-bow-ed, and suffered from terminal puffed sleeve-ness.

The Total: 7.3 out of 10

For the record, I loved it. It was pretty much my dream 1830s evening gown (except for maybe not that bow).

This week: 

This ca. 1912 suit combines practicality with a dash of flair.

Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions

The wool broadcloth would keep the wearer warm in a range of weather, and the dark colours would resist soiling and wear on grimy city streets, but the broad silk satin collar and elaborate trimmings speak to a sensibility as focused on aesthetic as on function.

Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions
Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions

The suit jacket features a wide, square collar in satin and velvet, with braid, button and embroidery trim, a braided belt effect at a fashionably high waist, velvet cuffs, and elaborate braid and button trim across the back.

Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions

The jacket is worn over an A-line skirt, with faux wrap effect.

Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions

Typically of high end fashion of the era, every element of the design that could be embellished with additional details is, right down to the belt buttons, with dainty floral borders.

Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions
Wool suit with braided trim, ca 1912, Helen Larson Historic Costume Collection, Sold by Whitaker Auctions

What do you think? Is this ensemble suited for purpose, while suiting your sense of style?

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. I love the colors; somber, but rich-looking.

    I also love the cut and styling of the suit, and the elaborate trim. My only quibble is that I would have liked to see more gold among the trimming (Gold Sleeve buttons? Perhaps the black cloth buttons on the labels should have been gold, or black and gold?

    9 out of 10

  2. I love this style and the color is wonderful blend of sober and surprising, as is the trim (the variety of which could be chaotic, but thew unity of color range keeps in “corralled”.

    10 of 10

  3. It’s lovely! The purple is magnificent, the cut is nice, and I love the buttons and trim. I can’t find anything to criticize.

    It appears that the edges of the velvet collar originally had 5 buttons instead of 3, but it looks nice either way.


  4. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    My grandmother (born 1886) would have LOVED that suit. Perfect for a chilly August visit to San Francisco, yet not too posh for a meeting with the ladies who run things in small towns. Rich and conservative look.

    It’s perfect for the 1912 power-dressing women with the suffragette gleam in her eye.


  5. Nicole B. says

    Yes, please! There is not a single thing I don’t love about this smart, sophisticated suit. I want it.


  6. Kathy Hanyok says

    You had me at the first photo. I love the over-the-top trimming — “Yes, I’ll wear a suit. But it will be my way!” The asymmetrical buttons at front and back hem along with all that braid. It only needs an extremely large hat with the feathers of half a flock. 10

  7. JessieRoo says

    I love that the back is trimmed with what amounts to a picture frame for the wearer’s backside- and no, I am not joking. I actually do like the trim on the back. But the light colored braid/embroidery on the collar and the too-bright and shiny gold buttons kind of ruin what is otherwise a really lovely suit.

  8. Tegan says

    I liked it… And then i saw the back and my eyes widened and i fell in lust for this suit. Oh my its glorious and covered in braid and loops and gorgeousness! My sole quibble is the front hem. The I Dont Know How To Properly Drape, not quite even and symmetrical, but not fully asymmetrical… That quality is my least fave aspect of 1910s designs. Make the little overlaps bigger and more flamboyant, or have it not exist. As I tell my music students, you have to overexaggerate expressions, or it sounds like a mistake. Too subtle and the audience isnt sure they heard it.

    But Id still wear it every day of my life so


  9. Rozy says

    First, how did I ever miss last week’s??? Such a gorgeous dress–too late for a vote but I’d give it a 10 for sure.
    Now for this week’s dress. Fabulous! Gorgeous color, delightful trim; I adore the three little buttons near the hem front and back, perfect little grace notes! The suits of the early 20th century capture the right blend of business and femininity. Totally my style.
    Another 10 this week.

  10. Christina Kinsey says

    The colour is a bit dark for me, but then l am seeing it without a blouse, so a light coloured blouse might have lifted it a bit more. The trimming is beautiful and the multiple layers of braid etc give a rich effect. A bit more gold too would have been lovely. On the whole very smart and the skirt looks like l could walk in it unlike today’s pencil skirts. And the length is perfect , long but not trip up long
    On the whole 9 only because l would like a bit more colour

  11. Crumpled Rag says

    This is a fantastic suit. All formal so no-one would fault you in any formal or business situation, but dressy enough to make the wearer feel special and give the subtle but clear statement of individuality.
    I WANT ONE (in Bottle Green) !!!


  12. Anna says

    I love it. The curved angles from the faux-wrap of the skirt are just perfect, and the dark purple is just the right shade.


  13. Mary Ann Hadley says

    I would so wear this dress! It’s sober enough in color for serious events, but rich enough for high tea at the Fairmont. The unusual pairing of wine, brown and gold work well as all are jewel colors and the brown has a reddish cast. I want one!


  14. Marie Coffin says

    I love everything about this dress! The color is serious and grown-up, but not dull. The cut is practical, but also graceful and stylish. The embellishments are so pretty — but not at all frilly. 10/10.

  15. dropping stitches says

    I like the open detail at the hem with the added touch of little buttons, and the upturned cuffs. Overall, it’s a nice suit inspired by military looks. I don’t really care for purple, but this is a nice rich shade that keeps everything from looking too stiff and serious. I could see Cora from Downton Abbey wearing this. A bit more gold trimming would have glitzed it up nicely. The square collar with the gold detailing is my favorite bit. A stately look. The back is a little too much for me with the rectangular trim down the skirt, but it does match up nicely with the jacket. And it does give a slimming, tall postured silhouette to the wearer. A nice one but not my favorite fashion era.


  16. I super love everything about this, and would love to wear this or make it up. I would personally prefer a lighter color, because that plum would wash me out, but otherwise, super love it.


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