Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1780s

Last week’s Rate the Dress was a risky pick: a dress devoid of any trim, and shown without any styling or accessories. Did it work? This week’s Rate the Dress is equally risky, but in the opposite way. It has all the styling and accessories. Will the look be a little too much, or just right?

Last Week: a 1720s dress in brown brocade

Well, the risk paid off, because most of you loved the shape of the dress, and the perfection of the pattern matching. The few of you who didn’t like it admitted that the 1970s had ruined those shades for you!

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

Oooooh, even better than the week before!

This week:  a 1780s redingote in violet and white

This week I’ve decided to stay in the 18th century, with a 1780s outfit, in honour of the 1780s Augusta Stays. However, I’m doing something quite different: featuring a fashion plate instead of an extant garment. It’s been a long time since Rate the Dress has been a fashion plate…

Redingote of violet taffeta, revers, collar, and cuffs white, steel buttons, striped and spotted muslin petticoat. Puce straw hat trimmed with large steel buckles, edging and ribbon in black velvet. 1787

Redingotes were female garments with a decidedly masculine twist. While nominally practical, like the riding habits they were originally derived from, by the 1780s they had become decidedly fashion focused.

Redingote of violet taffeta, revers, collar, and cuffs white, steel buttons, striped and spotted muslin petticoat- puce straw hat trimmed with large steel buckles- it is edged and belted with black velvet. 1787

While the example we are looking at has a wide collar and revers, deep cuffs, and double breasted front all borrowed from riding habits and menswear, the colour, fabric, and accessories are anything but practical. This redingote is made in violet purple silk taffeta, and paired with a delicate muslin or gauze petticoat, which is decorated with spotting and stripes: probably embroidered on to the fabric.

Redingote of violet taffeta, revers, collar, and cuffs white, steel buttons, striped and spotted muslin petticoat- puce straw hat trimmed with large steel buckles- it is edged and belted with black velvet. 1787

The hat, to match the summery muslin of the petticoat, is straw, in that most-fashionable of 18th century shades: puce.

What do you think at this fashionably impractical version of a once sensible dress? How will you feel about the 18th century version of designer jeans with carefully arranged wear marks and ‘ventilation’?

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’ve always had a fondness for a redingote, and I love the combination of the quasi-military severity of this one with the breeziness of the petticoat, as well as the color

    My one quibble is the hat – not the shape of it, but the ornament, which just looks weird and undefined (feathers? buttons? smears of paint?), but it’s a tiny quibble, so…

    9.5 of 10

  2. Elaine says

    I like the combination of tailored severity and and elegant lightness. Hate the hat, especially the ornamentation. I’d like it better if it were shorter and the blobs were left off. 8/10

    • Janine K. says

      A beautifull Redingote in a wonderful color combination. Big hats are always good, but I am not sure about the decoration.
      A Redingote is next on my sewing plan, and I never thought about violett. Great inspiration. Thanks

  3. Like their modern equivalents, this fashion plate is so stylized that it’s hard to tell what the actual garments looked like.

    That being said, however….

    I love the redingote silhouette. The purple taffeta worn with white is lovely, and I like the shape of the hat. But I do not care for the raft of medals on the hat, or the scalloped collar of the shirt, or the embroidery on the petticoat; to me they conflict with the elegant simplicity I think of when I think of redingotes. So, what do I make of all this?

    7.5 out of 10.

  4. Melissa says

    I really love the gown and its colors. Not a fan of the hat decoration, so since you said okay to rate accessories too, I will go with 8.5 out of 10.

  5. Christina Kinsey says

    It’s a pretty outfit, but my issue is with the proportions of the bodice. It seems far too long and the skirt seems to come from the hips instead of the waist. Trying to imagine this as an actual dress, it could work. Maybe a different hat may help?
    As it is I give it a 6, in reality more like an 8

  6. Wilma T. Brown says

    I would give this an 8 I like it but nothing I really like it is nice.

  7. Kathy Hanyok says

    Since I’m watching Poldark as I write, I think it’s spot on. I can see Elizabeth strolling the windy cliffside in such a gown. Like everyone else, the hat is my least favorite part. I do love the breezy petticoats. 8.5

  8. I love the riding habit! Gorgeous colour, fabulous cut, and it’s from my very favourite period in fashion history. I don’t love the hat though, it’s rather weird looking and I would have trimmed it very differently. I’d change the petticoat a bit too, but overall I still adore this outfit.


  9. I love the 18th Century riding habits and redingotes – the masculine with a feminine twist is great. This is a lovely example of that.

    Minus 0.5 for the weird ornaments on the hat.

    So, 9.5/10 in total.

  10. I like this general style, but this one comes across to me personally as a rather weird mish-mash with odd elements in odd places (like the pattern on the petticoat cutting across the knees and looking to me more like someone repurposed a tablecloth with a central pattern run or something…).
    Wish I could love it more but I just don’t think it’s the best example I’ve seen.
    Definitely interesting enough to be RTD-worthy, though. 🙂

  11. dropping stitches says

    I am so distracted by the sassy expression on that model. How can I rate this outfit? Jaunty and handsome. I like the purple coat-and-tails style. I wish the buttons were brass for a military effect. Is it meant to be so long-waisted? The hat is too farm-fashion-meets-Mad-Hatter for my taste, but our model is working it to the fullest. The white petticoat would look better crisp and less adorned. I don’t care for the details. The muslin looks like it would be relatively confortable.

    7.5/10 for all that sass

  12. Shashwat says

    The ensemble looks lovely,but not very refined and elegant.The huge pale lilac buttons on the bodice offer little contrast and end up making it a little too saccharine sweet.The hat offers a contrast in colours,but the detailing is a little crazy.The white petticoat compliments the vivid purple of the redingote,but the shape of the skirt at the sides does not look very streamlined,bunched up in fact perhaps due to the bumrolls.But the overall look certainly catches attention.
    7.5/10,The rating would be higher if the individual elements were more coherent.

  13. I do not care for the ornamentation.
    The buckles and thin leather band are slapdash. The collar doesn’t appeal to me. The decorations on the petticoat are meh.


  14. ElOmbu says

    I’m ignoring the hat because I LOVE the redingote. No one has mentioned the huge white ruffled collar which I think is fabulous. And although I said I was ignoring the hat, I’ll be the matching steel buttons and medallions on the hat pulled the whole outfit together. Hats have a long tradition of having big sparkly things on them…so I say 9.

  15. Very mixed feelings on this one. I love the redingdote, and most of the petticoat, but I’m not a huge fan of the stripes.

    The hat is odd, the ornaments are really throwing me.


  16. Elizabeth says

    I love The Scarlet Pimpernel, and this looks kind of like a sketch for one of Jane Seymour’s costumes. I don’t like the pink spots on the petticoat though.

Comments are closed.