Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Edwardian Rose

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

IMPORTANT:

Some of the comments on this post (now deleted) were so out of hand I’m putting an extra warning up here.

Your rating can be very poor numerically, but your comment still has to be kind.

If your comment ventures into body-shaming or slut-shaming it will be deleted. If it’s marginal it will be edited to comply with basic standards of taste and kindness. If you think that being super negative and coming up with insulting analogies makes you clever 1) you’re wrong, it makes me think exactly the opposite (default negativity is lazy and based on the mistaken belief that disliking things makes you look smart – a position only held by not very smart people) and 2) I’ll delete your comment.

The goal of Rate the Dress is to spread historical knowledge and to give us all a chance to look at the details of garments, and to think about why they were used, and were considered fashionable and attractive, in an entertaining way. To those who contribute to this goal: hooray! Thank you for being awesome ❤️❤️❤️

And back to our usual programming…

This week’s Rate the Dress is a late Edwardian day ensemble that combines the short oversleeves of last week’s 1840s dress, with a variation on the [extremely unpopular] tromp l’oeil fichu effect of the week before, all in a fashionable shape of deep rose pink.

Last Week: an early 1840s dress with blue stripes 

Last week’s 1840s dress was either very popular on almost all counts, or not popular, because you didn’t like the drab colour. Pale muted shades were just so popular in the 1840s.

The Total: 8.7 out of 10

A serious improvement on the last few weeks.

This week: a 1906 day ensemble in deep pink

This week’s pick is a day ensemble featuring the simple, slim, fitted cut that became fashionable in about 1906.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

This example uses a combination of princess seams and inset panels to wrap the figure at the waist, flare out into a swishing skirt at the hem, and release in gathers to provide fullness at the bust.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The seaming and fit are both highlighted and hidden by soutache braid, applied in swirls and curlicues across the bodice and down the skirt.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The dress is made of wool twill, and comes complete with an bobble-trimmed indoor jacket: an extra layer of warm and formality.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The cut of the jacket is simple, but fashionable, with cut on sleeves that reflect the Edwardian interest in Japonisme, and back seams that add extra flare to the jacket’s hem, and echo the swish of the skirt panels.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

The bobbles that trim the neck and sleeves of the jacket are repeated on the front of the jacket, dangling like little clusters of berries from the upper bust.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

Dangling trims on the bust were all the rage in 1906-9. The dress also features strips of silk terminating in tassels which wrap around the neckline, weave in and out of the front bodice, and hang from the bust. They repeat the weaving in and out at the back bodice, and join together above the back waist in one tassel.

Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b
Day Ensemble, American about 1906, Boston, USA, Wool twill (broadcloth), silk twill, soutache braid, silk tassles, and boning, Gift of Miss Mary Perdew, MFA Boston 53.167a-b

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.

100 Comments

  1. Marjo wheat says

    I think the dress is beautiful and the coat thoroughly lovely, but I can’t unsee the boob tassels! I can see they are an extension of the neck band, but their placement is still unfortunate. One tassel at the front would have been a better idea. Otherwise, I love the colour, the shape, and all the other ornamentation. I think it’s just the right amount of braiding. 9.5

  2. Anna says

    Overall really like this dress. Have to take one point off because I could do without the tassels at the front, and I’m not 100% sure about the jacket.

    9/10

  3. Jere H. Madison says

    Love the dress lines, the color, everything EXCEPT the front tassels. (Spent too many years in law enforcement…they bring to mind some stripper costumes!)

  4. Pal K says

    Add some sparkle (maybe lots of sparkle) and I can see it on the red carpet today
    I was going to deduct .5 for the front dangles But had to add it back for the wrapper -which deserves a 10 in its own right
    10/10

  5. I think it is fun, with the bobble trim and such a gorgeous pink color! It is elegant and refined (and would have to be fit perfectly to lay right on the body). I would definitely wear both the dress and the coat. 10/10!

    Best,
    Quinn

  6. My favorite color I would wear this dress myself. In fact I found a dress quite similar that I am hoping to make in the future! If I did make the dress, I would adjust but keep the front tassels . (in no way did they remind me of stripper tassels) The back tassel would remind you to sit up straight! I love this dress. 10/10

  7. Tracy Ragland says

    I absolutely love this time period, the color, the design, and workmanship. But without the jacket, I can’t stop myself from seeing those front tassels! What was the seamstress thinking?

    9/10, 10/10 with the jacket on top

  8. Kathy Hanyok says

    I love about 95% of this gown. The trim is to die for and the color beautiful. I do like the wrap, but I feel the cut makes the outfit frumpy, if that’s possible. If the front tassels were lengthened and knotted together like the back I would totally love it , but 9/10.

  9. Paula says

    Wow, I love this.
    I do not care for the high/tight neckline, but I won’t deduct, because that is the fashion of this era.
    I think the front tassels are comic, but again, that was the fashion.
    Love, love, love both the Rose Wool and the Soutache Trim and I like the jacket.
    10/10

  10. I just…I mean…the nipple tassels…I can’t get past them.
    The rest of the dress is a no brainer 10/10 for me. The colour, the trim, that coat! Exquisite. Drool-worthy. But the tassels. If only they exited nearer to the collar bones!
    To me, they catapult it down to “unwearable.” Like when you find the most perfect I-didn’t-know-I-needed-that-but-get-it-on-my-body-NOW dress but then whoops it’s so short that your rear is hanging out. There are plenty of dresses that I’d rate 7/10 that are perfectly wearable. This dress frustrates me because it’s so, so gorgeous but why, oh WHY do the tassels have to be so nipple-y?
    3/10

    • Elise says

      To me, they seem to come from the rib-cage. Honestly, I think it’s really a clever trend to show that the waist is slimmer than the ribs. The tassels would sort of act like a plumb-line that shows exactly how tiny (or how S-bent) the wearer’s waist is.

      It sort of reminds me of the bike-shorts trend that highlights thigh-gap, nowadays. Ah, the ways women’s bodies are contorted and distorted for beauty.

      Raspberry is a lovely color. As an exercise in trends and tiny-waists, I rate it 8/10

  11. Natasha Birt says

    Love the dress! 10/10 The color and cut…I am feeling inspired for some 1900s wear, usually finish up around 1890s!

  12. Amy says

    I wouldn’t change anything…not one thing. Even thecolor is stunning! 10\10

  13. Lillianne says

    That’s a mouth-watering colour. In the summer I make a raspberry curd ice-cream that is exactly that shade. I would absolutely love to try to make this dress to wear, it is so elegant. I would rock those tassels! 😉 10/10

  14. Jenny says

    9/10. I love the contrast light pink as a trim, but I’m not crazy about the dangly tassels. I’d also want to streamline the coat-thing and make it a little more tailored. However, I’d 10/10 try to reproduce this AND I’d want to use it as inspiration for an Irish dance dress.

  15. Absolute love. I spend a lot of time around boob tassels and because these ones are so close together I feel they don’t conjure up that association for me. I love the colour, I am a sucker for soutache anyway, the lines, the midriff piece wrapping around with the bodice gathering into it is SO nice!
    A wonderful combination of textures and colours and richness and restraint.

    10/10

  16. The color–glorious! The cut, exquisite. The decoration: modest and restrained. I like the rear tassel, but do not care for the twin bell-pulls that emerge at nipple-level on the front. The lace fill-in/collar piece is not my favorite kind of lace, but I suspect it looked better and paler when it was new.

    9 out of 10.

  17. India says

    Saw the delicious colour and the lovely, elegant silhouette and fell in love. Then I saw the tassels ……. Well, as love affairs go, that was a short one. No! Just no! 3/10

  18. Barbara says

    Would probably been a bit risqué for the times, due to the hassles. I love the color and really everything about the dress. 10/10.

    • Based on how often these tassels appear on fashions of this period, and the lack of any comments on their properness, I doubt they were seen as risqué at the time. The Edwardian era had no context for tassels at this level as anything but dress decoration, nor did they have the modern perspective of nipples symbolising nudity. This dress is a real litmus test for how much cultural (including timeperiod) constructs change our viewpoints on what’s risqué, appropriate, and tasteful.

      • Barbara says

        That’s so interesting about how the dress and its tassels would be viewed during the time period! Thanks for clarifying.
        Also, I’m sorry but not surprised to hear about the terrible comments. It’s certainly possible to critique something without saying awful, inappropriate things. It’s been said so often, but is so true – people hide behind their computer screens and say things they would probably never say to your face.

  19. Charlotte says

    Lovely colour and the tassel on the back us lovely and well placed. The front udder like tassels, however, are ridiculous

    4/10

  20. I’m wondering if the tassels weren’t meant to be loosely tied in a half knot at the center front, because otherwise they seem a bit like bell pulls. I can also see them being overlapped using a brooch to fasten them as a way of showing off the jewelry, but I suppose if that had been done, there might be pin marks in the fabric. It’s very pretty – I love the cut and the soutache trim, love the lace at the throat and center front. For myself, I would prefer a more muted color, but as it is not my dress and probably made the original owner very happy, I’d give it a 9/10.

  21. Emma says

    This is really lovely. The cut and colour are lovely and the I love the tone on tone decoration. The ribbon/tassels part is interesting but I’d prefer it if it were in the same colour as the rest of the dress. As it is it stands out a bit jarringly. Still, it’s absolutely gorgeous!

    9/10

  22. Vivien Dwyer says

    Love the dress and the wrap but those tassels are too short or too long or just unnecessary and don’t emphasize the cut of the skirt or the top. There’s something not quite right with the colour either but that could be age. 9/10

  23. Lucy says

    Overall very pretty and elegant, and a gorgeous colour. Love the flowing skirt and the butterfly-shaped jacket, although I’m not quite sure about the soutache.
    But even if it was the fashion at the time, I’m still rolling my eyes at the oddly placed front tassels.
    6/10 (would be 9/10 without the udder effect)

  24. I am really fond of this era, and I like a lot about this dress. The deceptive simplicity with lots of details visible up close, the clean lines, the short over sleeves and the back. A bit more structure in the front bodice part (like in the back) would perhaps be more flattering, but again: the clean simple lines also have their charm. What I don’t like is the orange-y pink colour – a cooler colour would go better with the elegant lines, imho. On the other hand it could be the photo, or aging of the garment, or both. The placement of the front tassels is a bit unfortunate, and I think that they look a bit out of place in the otherwise very ‘clean’ look, as opposed to the back where they are a lot more worked into the original design. I’d wear it, but I would do something about the tassels first. This dress is overall pretty, but the cut-throat competition for ‘ten-point dresses’ in this era works against it and I rate it an 8.

  25. Camilla Ohlsén says

    This is really lovely! It would get a ten if it weren’t for the tassels. I love the colour, a bit different from the white, offwhite,beige I’ve mostly seen. And the overdress/coat makes it to almost a new outfit. A belt over that and you’re ready to go out. I give it a 9.

  26. APRIL pressley says

    I love this one. The colour and the cut; it’s one of those I’d love to have a pattern for. I don’t mind the tassels at all as they seem to me to be coming as part of the central band rather than originating from any body part 🙂 I’d give it a
    9

  27. Christina Kinsey says

    Looking at the dress, the tassels seem to hang between the bust points, especially on a full busted figure. As bust points l have found tend to be about 8 to 10 inches apart, these tassels look about 6 inches, so they dont look like anything other than trim to me, though they might be akward at mealtimes if they weren’t tied in a knot .
    Ok, getting that out of the way, can l say, if only it were in my size…..I dont usually wear plain colours, this rose though is beautiful, the decoration does set it off and the lace at the neck does work with the colour. I wonder if you could wear it without the lace insert too, as well as with or without the jacket, giving you four looks
    A definate 10

  28. Linda Bott says

    I love the colour and style of the dress, the tassels are bit alarming to the modern eye, but in the context of the era they seem to be nothing more than beautiful decoration. The colour, the seaming, the braid, everythng is beautiful , I particularly love the jacket, but I am a sucker for jackets

  29. Isi says

    I just had to leave my comment as well, even though everything I’ll say has been noted before: gorgeous rose color, stunning balance of structure and flowing simplicity in the cut, beautiful scrolling embellishments, even the uncomfortably tight lace collar is made bearable to my modern sensibilities by the soft nude color.
    I even like the idea of tassels with this dress – their subtle movements would add a nice counterpoint to the deceptively simple silhouette, but oh dear, the placement! I second the wish that they’d be placed higher up, to highlight that they come out of the collar. they were the first thing I noticed in the pictures, and I didn’t see burlesque nipple tassels, I saw lactating udders… but other than that, wearable even today.
    9.5/10

  30. Lisa W says

    Oh, that coat!! *swoon* I love the way the bust fullness is gathered and the elegant lines through the waist and hip. Seeing the tassels as the dnds of the collar trim puts them in context although like an earlier poster, I do wonder if they were supposed to be tied in a similar manner as at the back? Love the cut, the colour, and imagine the fabric would have a great swoosh to it. 9/10 for me (not a fan of the high neck). The coat by itself is definitely a 10 though

  31. I just love it. Everything is so quintessentially typical of the time it was made and the embellishment is exquisite.
    Yes, even the tassels, that are far too close for them to be associated with the nipples more than to the neckline, so I think the problem is in reading it with modern eyes, rather than the actual design of the dress.
    10 across the board!

  32. Rebecca says

    I love this dress – it’s so quintessentially Edwardian. Slim line and good tailoring, but with trim hearkening back to the bustle era in its complexity. I even love the controversial bust tassels – they eould contribute a lot to emphasizing the pigeon bust of the time.

    I am going to dock the dress .5 for the guimpe. The care given to the dress itself empasizes how the guimpe was thrown together without thought regarding the pattern of the lace. Just some fussy cutting would have made it perfect!

    9.5/10

  33. Barb says

    The color is very appealing. I find the tassels very interesting being attached to a piece of silk of ribbon and woven into the design! I may have reconsidered the placement in front or maybe only used one in the front repeating the back treatment. I really enjoyed getting a chance to see it.

  34. Anna says

    I love the shape, I think it would be so fun to wear. The detractors for me are the high neckline, which just looks uncomfortable, and the front tassels. Not because they look like nipples, they don’t to me (the placement is all wrong for that), but because I can’t help they’d get into everything when one bends over. In the other hand, in a corset, and with maids to do the housework, it might not be an issue. 9/10

  35. I love the color, the shape, and the details. The tassels don’t bother me a ton, but the jacket, while equally detailed, doesn’t add anything for me. 9/10

  36. Chiara says

    It’s beautiful but the colour is too bright. It’s too pink. Also there are more beautiful dresses from the era,

    8/10

  37. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I love the colour! It reminds me a lot of Paquin designs from the same year. The tassels are fun and I can’t say that my brain went immediately to wha-la-la-la places. Honestly, I think they’re fun and kinda cute and not at all risqué in this dress, especially as they are clearly originating from the neck accent and not just randomly popping out from the chest without any visible source or origin.

    9/10.

    • Elise says

      Me too. The threading of the tassel material puts the whole thing in context. As I said above, I think they also sort of act like a plumb-line that highlights a tiny waist.

      This is my favorite color in clothing, so I will look into Paquin. It is wonderful how you share your deep knowledge.

  38. Cirina says

    Hm, gorgeous color, splendid skirt and cute jacket, but the bodice seems ungracefull to my eyes.
    The tassels are unusuall but OK. I’m more bothered by the proportions of the bodice. Something about the double sleeves in combination with the rising front of the neckline. I mean, it is inspired by the tudor fashion, so the neckline shoud be … wider? Or shallower? Maybe the upper sleeves shoud not be longer on the underarm? IDK.
    It’s all right with the jacket.
    8/10

  39. I find the color luscious, the silhouette supremely graceful, the soutache elegant, but like many others I do not care for the tassels. If I can get beyond the “You gotta have a gimmick” from Gypsy association by considering the era appropriateness, I still don’t care for tassels as a class of ornamentation because they catch on things and shed.
    Also love the matching coat.
    9.5 of 10

  40. alice says

    My favourite silhouette, even though it wouldn’t look quite that good on me. Without the tight neck piece and with slightly relaxed lines and different trim, in a “calmer” colour I would cheerfully wear it today. 8 out of 10 at a minimum. Come to think of it, hmmm . . .

  41. Johanna says

    I saw the headline “Edwardian Rose” and expected to dive into paradise, but unfortunately I don’t like the colour. It’s too much of a raspberry for me. It would be beautiful on someone with a really dark skintone, but I don’t like it. I’m also not a fan of the trim that ends by poking out at the nipples. It reminds me too much of stripper tassels. It’s an innovative feature, weaving it in and out of the garment, but the end result isn’t the best. I love the soutache trim and the general silhouette, but I can’t give it more than a 6 due to the colour and trim.

    6/10

  42. Clarissa Crabtree says

    This comment addresses not this week’s ensemble – which I think is absolutely wonderful – but your warning about mean-spirited people. It is indeed very sad that some people need to tear others down in order to feel better about themselves and to have that mindset invade your site, where you do so much wonderful work is a very sad commentary on our world today. However I applaud you for taking such strong proactive action and calling these bullies out for what they are and not providing them a forum for their vitriol. Keep up the good work.
    Writing from New York City.

    • Elise says

      I just wanted to second you, Clarissa! Hooray for the Dreamstress to be so active in maintaining decency, and hooray to Clarissa for supporting decency! Ad hominem attacks , value-judgments, and slut-shaming are not-ok.

      Generally, this blog seems to attract thoughtful people, and it’s a pleasure to explore here, especially now.

      On a glib note, can we rate a Plague Doctor’s outfit? I imagine that there will be many interesting comments on functionality, symbolism, and history.

  43. Emma Louise says

    I generally really like dresses from this era and this one doesn’t disappoint. The cut, embellishments, colour and fun matching jacket are all perfect.
    Although I couldn’t hold in a giggle at the tassels! Yet I do think that they work aesthetically, and I am actually quite fond of them.
    I like the look of the high lace neckline, although I suspect I would hate wearing it!
    10/10

  44. Stéphanie says

    I LOVE this dress. I want to wear it everyday. The colour is fabulous, the appliquéd braid divine and the tassels are so much fun. They say confidence and assertiveness to me. The shape is really beautiful. I like that the details do not hide the shape of the body. The jacket is wonderful too, and I usually detest bobbles. As someone who is always freezing, and if the dress had been made for me, the option of having a matching jacket would make me feel that I was really being listened to. I give this dress 11/10, but if that’s not allowed 10/10.

  45. Nannynorfolk says

    What a lovely dress, I love the shape and it’s very elegant. Just like others though I don’t like the tassels, can imagine them dangling in the soup although as it’s not evening wear that wouldn’t have happened. So a bit off because of the tassels.
    9.5

  46. Rateadress says

    I like that the cut is quite sophisticated, while the sillhuette remains simple and flattering. Not an example of a dress that wears the woman as opposed to the other way round. However as soon as the coat is on, I imagine a much more matronly, elderly woman in it. The embroidery and overall quality is nice; I rather like the color, but at the end, it really depends on the complexion of the wearer if it‘s a success or not. Now the…dangling trims; They just look confusing to me, tell me what you will. I just don‘t think many contemporary designers would make this choice, even in the context of a historic movie, at least not for the leading lady. It‘s like a tattoo on a funny place. However I think, all funny associations could be removed rather easily. Actually I would keep the dangling trim as it is, but add a long string of…let’s say…pink or powder rose pearls. Then I’d put it along the sides of the neckline, through the openings, where both strings of the trim run through and let it dangle in a simple curve at the front of the dress, only slightly lower than the ends of the trim, framing the embroidery. I‘d probably do something similar at the back of the dress. The way it is, I’d give this dress a 7/ 10.

  47. Tiziana says

    I love this dress, the colour is amazing and so original. The only thing I don’t really like is the tassels of the jacket
    9,5

  48. S. A. Cox says

    Overall, I love the dress. I love the color, I love the silhouette, and I think that overall the decoration is not too much and not to little.

    I think I might like the jacket more if it felt more stylistically aligned to the dress, though maybe it’s just my historical-fashion ignorance that makes it look weird to me.

    Also, if I were to wear it personally, I would want to either re-position the last set of exit holes for those tassels in the front, or else take them out altogether. They’re just… a little too… Katy Perry? Googling to make sure I have the celebrity right isn’t really what I want to do right now. I know they aren’t that bad. Still, I probably just wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it as shown.

    8/10

    • Linda Daubin says

      I find this dress stunning in all ways. The detail work of the era is beautiful. I am not a fan of the tassels on the bust. Rated this dress a 9.

  49. Heather says

    I love tone on tone embellishments! They satisfy my competing loves for simplicity and small precise details. And the shape of this is stunning. I agree that that tassels don’t make a lot of sense to a contemporary viewer, it’s the type of detail that was very fashionable then but distracts from what the modern eye enjoys about the dress (the smooth hourglass shape).

    9/10

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