After last week’s lush excess of trim and embellishment, the garment I’ve chosen for this week is simple and restrained, relying on the cut and layout of the fabric for interest.
Some of you thought last week’s dress was holiday perfection. Others thought it looked like an over-dressed Christmas tree, and not in a good way.
Interestingly, one of the things that came in for a lot of criticism was the way the skirt flared out from the hips. That’s a classic dressmaking trick to create the illusion of a small waist.
The Total: 8 out of 10
(I personally thought the dress was just the thing for my favourite Christmas movie. Santa’s everywhere at once, and some of him landed on the dress…)
This week: an 1840s dress in striped silk
The Metropolitan Museum of Art identifies this dress as a ‘visiting dress’, but I think a more correct description would be a formal day or dinner dress. Perfectly appropriate for visiting, but also for having guests over in your own house, or going to church. Just the thing for the season!
With no additional embellishment or trim, the dress relies on the inventive uses the stripes for visual interest, creating an interplay of angles and lines.
Note the piping that finishes many of the seams & edges: a double row of delicate lines at the waist, a single row of equally delicate piping running down the sleeve seam, and wider piping (or flat piping) framing the berthe.
Note also the very careful use of fabric and piecing in the dress. There’s a subtle seam in one cream stripe of the sleeve, and a slightly less expertly placed join at running around the bottom of the berthe, and a suggestion of a selvedge or end-bolt mark in the berthe as well. The maker was clearly determined to make the absolute most of their length of fabric.
The museum record includes a couple of images from the Met’s (thankfully long-since abandoned) practice of posing the dresses on live models. I’m not convinced the hat that was chosen to go with the dress does anything to elevate its aesthetic.
While last week’s dress was a shoe-in for a ‘Christmas’ pick, this week’s choice is a little less obvious, but does remind me of wrapping paper and ribbons. There is something glossy and holiday-ish and festive about it, just in a more subdued way. What do you think? A lovely thing to wear for a visit? Or far too boring and severe compared to last week’s dress? Or is this one just as weird as last week’s pick, only in a specifically 1840s way, instead of an 1870s-80s way?
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!)