I gave you an extra few days for Rate the Dress, because last week’s was so late. And I’m still feeling very rushed and busy, so have picked a Rate the Dress that’s all about relaxing, albeit in the poshest way possible.
Last Week: an 1860s fancy dress
Last week’s Rate the dress was fancy in a different way to this weeks: fancy dress, rather than fancy, fancy. But what we could see of the trim and construction was also quite fancy: indicating a very well made, high quality item, for a client with money to spend on a one-off costume.
But that didn’t translate to likes: the ratings were all over the place, from 2 to 10. The final result?
The Total: 6.4 out of 10
Personally, I have a sneaking suspicion it would have rated much higher if we could have seen how it was worn: fully accessorised and styled.
This week: a tea gown by the House of Worth
Tea gowns were always status symbols: the Victorian & Edwardian versions of designer jeans and T-shirts. Too fancy to do any work in, but far too informal to wear anywhere but indoors amongst your closest friends. But this tea gown is the fanciest of the fanciest: made by the House of Worth, worn by the wife of one of the richest men in the world.
Socialite Jane Norton Grew (1868–1925) married J.P. Morgan Jr in 1890. Raised in privilege, a Boston ‘Brahmin’ and the daughter of a banker, Grew would have been used to the ultimate in fashion and high society. By marrying in to the banking Morgan family she could expect to continue a life of luxury.
However, wealth and luxury didn’t necessarily translate into obvious ostentation. Like her husband and father in law, Jane preferred to keep out of the public eye. Even within her own social circle, the blond beauty did not aspire to be the leading light. She was reserved and formal (her husband referred to her as ‘cold roast Boston’), and the little public records of her life show no attempts to be noteworthy.
It’s no surprise then that Jane’s preferred design house was the House of Worth. By the early 20th century Maison Worth had ceased to be the clothier of the trendsetter and innovator, and was instead the lead couturier to the impeccable conservative.
However, the few surviving Worth garments belonging to Jane are among the bolder and more interesting for their years. Did Jane have a secret flair, or did she only keep the more outré of her purchases, which she rarely had occasion to wear?
What do you think of this dress, with its medley of soft blues, combinations of different design influences, and use of a bold silk, typical of the House of Worth’s long association with the French silk industry.
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!)