I had one goal choosing this week’s Rate the Dress: it had to be orange.
Which is why it’s yellow. Close enough? Life right now is about accepting compromise and imperfection, and being OK with what you have. So we have yellow.
Last Week: a late Victorian dress in muted pink
Last week’s Rate the Dress definitely had its fan club, but it also had its naysayers. Those fell into the category of people who liked everything about the dress except the lace, or maybe the sleeve ruffles, or the category of people who liked pretty much nothing about the dress.
The resulting total?
The Total: 7.4 out of 10
A whole point down from last week! And very representative of all the people who liked the dress except for one or two elements.
This week: an almost-certainly-a-tea-gown in warm yellow
This week’s Rate the Dress is from the Helen Larson Private Collection that was sold by Whitakers a couple of years ago.
The unusual train of this dress, which spills from between the shoulder blades and hangs down the back like fairies wings, combined with the overall cut and lush elements, makes me reasonably confident in identifying it as a tea gown: a garment of “elaborate design and infinite cost…absolutely useless, and utterly ridiculous” – but extremely fashionable and covetable.
A tea gown was an elaborate garment for indoor wear only, acceptable only at dinners with close friends (and, despite the name, wasn’t particularly worn for afternoon, or any other kind, of tea). Tea gowns, especially ones like this, were extremely expensive, and thus were the ultimate status statements: a garment as pricey as the dearest ballgown, but which could only be worn at the most intimate and informal of events.
1880s tea gowns usually featured ‘exotic’ or historical elements, like Indian embroidery, or 18th century inspired watteau backs. The quirky train on this dress is definitely whimsical enough to qualify.
Some 1880s and 90s tea gowns also feature a corselet/swiss waist effect. The way the brocade that forms the back bodice and sides of the train wraps around the front of the dress definitely fits that trend.
If this dress isn’t a tea gown, it’s a reception gown worn by an exceedingly daring and adventurous woman.
She was brave enough to sport a butterfly train spilling from her back, beaded fringe round her hips, heavy gold and sequinned trim, and sundry other embellishments on the bodice that we can’t quite see, and ostrich feathers curling around her neck, all in sunny yellow.
She was willing to pay a pretty penny for all this too. While the label suggests the dress was made in Chicago, and the construction definitely isn’t couture level, it’s very nice, and would certainly have been an expensive purchase.
What do you think?
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