Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Pastel Pink Over-Robes

I’ve got Regency on my mind at the moment. It’s probably because I have absolutely no events coming up for which I need a Regency frock, so my wayward mind is fixating on the most impractical thing it can think of! So, this week’s Rate the Dress is 1790s…

Last Week:  A 1910s dress in devore velvet and metallic lace

I’ll let you in on a secret. I think last week’s dress is hideous. And I don’t know why, because I usually love that style of dress, and the individual elements. I’m ashamed to say it may be the presentation: I’m usually good at overlooking presentation, but somehow that too-tall mannequin and bare foot is just a bit offputting…

Luckily for the dresses final rating, you do not agree with me. Other than the big beaded element at the bust you were on-board with the dress, finding the devore divine, and the gold lace the perfect amount of gilding.

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

Just .1 point shy of the week before!

This week:  a 1790s over-robe in pale pink

I spent a little bit of time browsing the Met’s website, indulging my obsession, and came across this week’s Rate the Dress pick. It’s only an open-robe, shown with what I’m 99% sure is a reproduction underpetticoat, but I think it’s fascinating enough to be worth it’s own Rate the Dress. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way!

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

This pink and gold open robe is a perfect blend of ancien regime grandeur meets neoclassical simplicity, from the fabric which blends brocaded lushness with a more severe and restrained pattern, to the cut, which evokes both the classical world and a robe a la francaise.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

The pale pink silk fabric features subtle textures satin stripes and delicate motifs worked in silver gilt thread.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

The neckline of the robe is framed with a self fabric ruffle which nods to the tuckers of earlier fashion, and frames the full ‘buffoun’ neckerchief so fashionable in the 1780s and 90s. As is common in sleeve cuts of the era, the stripes are placed to run vertically along the top of the narrow sleeves, becoming horizontal at the crook of the elbow.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

What do you think? Is this overgown exquisitely elegance, taking a simple white frock and elevating it to something spectacular? Or is it neither here nor there as a fashion piece: unwilling to commit to one aesthetic or another?

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


  1. Julia says

    It’s pretty but I can’t say I’m a huge fan. It’s just kind of boring and forgettable, I have to keep going back to the pictures to remember how it looks. I wonder if the colour is somewhat faded?
    There are a few points that I like or find interesting. The waistband adds a bit of interest for me and I really do enjoy subtle metallic stripes. I can’t say I love the random little blobs of weedy vegetation but they do look better from farther away.
    The most intriguing thing is the sleeves. I like what they do but can’t help but wonder how that would look when your arms are straight. Does it make pouches of fabric like stretched out sweater elbows? And is it comfortable or does it pull across your inner elbow?
    I don’t love the era in general and it is probably affecting feelings on the dress but it really is so boring. 5/10

    • Julia says

      Also, is this lady quite tall or am I just imagining things?

  2. Melissa says

    I think this is just gorgeous! I love all the little details on the bodice. Love the colors. The sleeves are a little wonky so I’ll give it a 9/10.

  3. Such fine pieces of artworks. The lightness of the fabrics and colours are splendid – quality made artistery. A 10!

  4. Kathy Gressieux says

    The color is just lovely and reminds me of the gentle pink-peach tones inside of a conch shell. The lines are beautifully feminine with the ruffling at the bosom ( a full bosomed woman might not be able to pull that off?). I don’t care for the cut of the sleeve as the lower part of the arm is on the diagonal. I’d love to have seen the full back view. Simplistic motif . Elegant and flow-y. 8/10

    • LindaMB says

      I love this dress, I want this dress. It is simple yet feminine and elegant. 10/10.

  5. Marjo says

    I love it! I like the way the band works at the high waist. Looks lovely. I like the self fabric ruffle at the neckline. The sleeve is strange and would stranger when the arm is straight, but I am intrigued with it. I love the colour and the fine pattern woven into it. I’m seriously thinking of making something very similar for my granddaughter. 9/10

  6. Debbie Farthing says

    I really like this one. The subtle pink and the cut are very elegant. The cut of the sleeve is different but I don’t mind it as it gives the sleeve some interest now that elbow length sleeves with ruffles had gone out of fashion. 9/10

  7. I love it. I love it’s simplicity and elegance. The fabric’s lovely and so is the bodice. The sleeves are really interesting and I’d love to see them in person.


  8. Ooooh! Yum. Just love this robe. Imagine that the color was a bit stronger when it was made, so that it would have been a restrained but floaty confection. Say — yes, a handsome petit four among a plate-full of desserts.

    I wonder if the sleeves are cut to force the arms into a fashionable pose…perhaps?

    The style is wonderful to wear: light, comfortable, chic. I made one similar input in all except sleeves some years ago, and it remains the favorite garment I’ve ever constructed. Perhaps have nudged you into giving in and making one, in a fabric with New Zealand elements?

    10 of 10

    Very best,


  9. Kathy Hanyok says

    I want to love it, because it’s Regency. But I can’t. The color is nice. The underskirt does nothing to sell it. I’d like to see both front and back full on. I find it boring. I can’t love it. 7/10.

  10. Carmen Beaudry says

    I love everything about this and I want to make one.

  11. I love it, the details and simplicity. I can definitely see someone wearing this in a floral background to help it stand out more. 10/10

  12. Catherine says

    This is one of my most favorite 1790s dress and I want an exact (or as close as possible) recreation. I also want more pink garments! I hate to make bread, sweeping generalizations, but I love everything about it. I just wish there was a photograph of the front so I knew how it closed.

  13. Claire Payne says

    Buffon neckerchief and froof. How you spoil us! I love the colour and the pattern. So simple but so effective. Froof is my word du jour now.

    8 out of 10 from me.

  14. This feels disturbingly modern; we were selling silks like this 20 years ago at Sherazad. So while on one hand it would be easy to recreate, it would also possibly look anachronistic even if it’s not!
    I think it’s super cute. When the metallic embroidery was shiny it would have been so pretty. I love the colour and it is such a great shape.
    I’m surprised you didn’t like last week’s dress but also agree its presentation was so bad. This one makes up for it in spades.

  15. I love it! I’d wear it in a second. As someone who came of age in the 2000s, a cropped sweater really SPEAKS to me, you know? And that perfect shade of Millenial pink…mmm. Yes, I like this. Not huge on the ruffle at the bottom of the petticoat as it seems a little out of scale, but overall, I like this a lot.


  16. nofixedstars says

    i like it, but i don’t love it. it does very interestingly show the transition to regency styles. part of its lack of strong appeal for me is the colour—i am not a fan of pink, generally, although this is a rather pleasant pink shade. i like the fabric. if it were a different colour i might like it very much indeed. i did wonder if it would look better to me if the under-dress were different: ivory silk, perhaps. the white cotton is jarring against it to my eye. with the generous train and lustrous silk with gilt embellishment, it feels more like an evening dress; the under-frock is not quite simpatico with it somehow, and that is affecting my rating. still, overall it’s a pretty thing. 7/10.

  17. A fairy tale frock if ever I saw one. The lovely color- which I realize may have changed with age- is just the right shade of pink (to my eye at least) it’s feminine but not overly girly, and the subtle shine of the embroidery really seals the fantasy.
    Often these transitional frocks sort of stumble awkwardly between periods, but this one feels nostalgic rather than disjointed. A dress that looks forward to the simplicity of regency, but fondly remembers the grandeur of Georgian days. Just perfect. 10/10.

  18. Eddie says

    It’s lovely except for the little flower bouquets (?) spread over the pink fabric. It looks like there are bugs crawling all over her. Otherwise I think it’s sweet.8/10

  19. Disie says

    Oh so pretty! The colour is gorgeous, and I love the subtle stripe and embroidery. I agree that the scarf and underskirt are reproduction (they’re too white to be vintage!) but they do represent what would have been worn with the dress back in the day. I’m not keen on the ruffle on the underskirt so a point off for that. 9/10

  20. dropping stitches says

    Exquisite. The shine, the color, and the small brass details. I would wear this now. Classy and ultra-feminine.


  21. I really like the overrobe style of the 1790s, which this is. The pink is a lovely shade, with just the right amount of ornamentation, and the white forms a nice contrast. I wish there was a front view of the dress (though I suspect from what we can see is that the neckline is a bit too low to be attractive).

    9.5 out of 10.

  22. Veronica says

    I often find 1790s to be a strange transitionary period that looks a bit askance, but this I am pleasantly surprised to find I rather like. The stripes are nicely placed, and the placement of the sleeves, as you mentioned, adds an interesting visual feature. Would have liked some back or front bodice views, but beggars can’t be choosers!

  23. This is so pretty. It’s delicate and neat, with lovely details. Would love more views, it’s so tantalising just seeing this glimpse. I’d love to see how the train attaches to the bodice. I think this is really lovely, not outstanding, but very nice all the same.

  24. Gillian Stapleton says

    I can’t tell you how much I love that pink silk – I could roll around in it like a happy dog. 10/10

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Lovely fabric, good use of the stripes for interest, very classic dress.

    I shall ignore the too-white petticoat.


  26. Emma Louise says

    I really like looking at 1790s dresses, I always think it must have been a bit of a shock when it came into fashion. I really like this example, It somehow looks floofy and elegant at the same time. I like the placement of the striped pattern. The light pink dress and white petticoat look light and pretty together. I think the frill on the petticoat nicely mirres the frill on the bodice. The only thing I’m confused by is the cut of the sleeves, what happens when you straighten yours arms?

  27. Susan says

    As most dresses of this era it is all the undergarments that bring it to life. Though the bustline and lower sleeve are very restrictive the ambiance of the gown is its subtle colour. Both innocent yet provocative at the same time.
    As the comment before me there would have been little reason to straighten the arm as it was in pose for holding a shawl as well as a fan.

  28. Lauren Sancer says

    10/10 So simple, simply perfect. It’s graceful and elegant and the dainty details add a bit of flavor to it. When I finally get around to making a regency gown this will be part of my inspiration definitely.

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