Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Petal Pink Belle Epoque

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

This week we’re going from spring green to blossom pink, with an 1890s dress that’s all rosettes, puffed sleeves and swishing silk. Is the star of the show, or something for a supporting character?

Last Week: an 1830s dress in morning glory patterned silk

Once again last week’s dress was quite popular, even winning over some people who are generally avowed non-fans of the 1830s. It couldn’t quite convince everyone, especially when it came to the sleeves. What points it lost were for poof or cupcake cuffs.

The Total: 9.2 out of 10

Still breaking the 9 barrier despite a few very low scores for sleeves, but alas, not quite up to a 9.5+

This week: an 1890s reception dress

I was very tempted to go extremely bright and bold after last weeks soft, pastel frock. But it’s just turning spring here, and the magnolias are blooming, and I’m dreaming of photoshoots with cherry blossoms, so I’ve picked a pink frock the colour of fruit trees in bloom.

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

This 1890s dress was clearly well loved by its owner/s. The hem is badly worn, and the delicate self-striped silk has seen better days. So you’ll have to do a bit of imagining to restore it to its original appearance. Put it on a person a couple of inches shorter than the mannequin. Add a few petticoats to give the skirt the necessary fullness. Re-weave those threads in the hem. Smooth out the wrinkles, give the chiffon on the bodice a steam, and refresh the wilted flowers in your mind.

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

When all of that’s done, you have the dress as it was: the kind of frock a young lady might have worn to celebrate her graduation, or to an afternoon concert, or perhaps an engagement part.

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

You can certainly imagine an L.M. Montgomery charater in it (although Anne, much as she would have wanted the pink version, would have had to have it in green).

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

Dress ca. 1895, Sörmland Museum

What do you think? Is it heroine worthy? Or something for a supporting character?

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. What an absolute confection of a dress! The fabrics and trims are beautifully coordinated. The sweep of the skirt is masterful, and the pouf of the bodice/sleeves balances it out nicely.

    10 of 10

  2. nofixedstars says

    even though i am generally not a pink fancier, this is a delicate hue in such a delicate fabric…i can’t object even a little. it’s just beautiful, and a good example of its time. i like the waist treatment and the fabric flowers, and the use of the flowers seems nice—enough to carry the ornamentation through the dress, not so profuse as to be excessive. without that, it might be too bland. i’m sure it was a very flattering frock for the woman who wore it.

    rating: 9/10

  3. Anne may not have been able to wear this shade, but it would just do for Priscilla’s ethereal, golden beauty. That soft chiffon is a perfect foil for the shimmering silk. The cut of the skirt is lovely in back. The self-fabric rosettes add just enough interest, with the addition of the deeper pink flowers at the waist and bosom. I might have left off the rosette on each sleeve, but that’s just personal preference. All in all, a beautiful dress.


  4. Elaine says

    I love the skirt, and the fabric must have been lovely when new. But once again the sleeves ruin it for me. It reminds me of shoulder pads for a U.S. football player. 5/10

  5. It’s a supporting character dress. All of the details–the non-harmonizing pink rose in the front, the sheer overlay on the sleeves, the poofy self-fabric roses, even the color–are pleasant enough, but non-memorable.

    I’ve given much more attractive dresses 7s this year, so this one gets….

    6.5 out of 10

    • Margot says

      I would think that some of that so called ‘non harmonizing’ would do with the fading

      • Exter Baskerville says

        I love all things solk and this is no exception. The colors are perfection. I would switch the darker hue for the full dress and the lighter for trim and special features. All in all, a joy.

  6. I love it. I think it would have been many young ladies’ dream to wear a dress like this. She must have felt like a princess.

    The design is lovely – just enough floof without being overdone. So it’s 9/10 from me.

  7. Kathy Hanyok says

    Anne would have loved the puffed sleeves, as I do also. My first impression was Marion the Librarian from Music Man. It’s so lovely, like spun sugar. And if the chiffon were schushed up a bit, it would be a dream! 10

  8. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I’m sure it’s a very pretty dress, but I’m not feeling it. This isn’t really my kind of dress, even if it were fresh and bouncy and all pretty. It’s just a bit too candyflossy – all pink floof and barely any substance. So I’m going to give it a kinda mehhhh 5/10

  9. Flavia says

    Neat idea for a turn of the century dress! To appear in a nude pink in those times I believe there was something! There are also used several types of natural silk fabrics all in the same grade of nude pink which means a keen eye for detail and it looks like in good state over a century later! I would wear this dress for sure, I see myself wearing it! 10/10.

  10. kathy in KY says

    I normally take points off for gratuitous chiffon or lace around the neckline but this dress is so beautiful! The chiffon or whatever it is is so perfectly incorporated into the design! The only thing I would change would be to get rid of the dark pink rose at the very top. Doesn’t seem to be very well fastened, and doesn’t add anything. Nevertheless, I give it a 10!

  11. Alissa says

    I’m sorry, all I see when I look at those light pink flowers are little brains! Eeek. And the material reminds me of an 80s prom dress. I feel bad rating it so low, but this one gets a 4.5 from me.

  12. Brenna says

    *sigh* this is so beautiful, especially imagining it with all your suggestions in place. If I give myself one of your ‘pink moments’, it might have to look like this! If ever there was a dress to be worn with a pouffy chignon, this is it!


  13. Emma says

    I’m always a fan of tone on tone and this one is great. It’s sweet and pretty but also has some clever details that I love. I really like the sleeves and the belt-like arrangement is lovely. The fabric roses and the chiffon make simple but effective decoration.


  14. Vivien Dwyer says

    Love the fabric and the self decorations, a bit fluffy round the bodice for me

  15. Veronica says

    Just the colour for cherry-blossom pink, isn’t it! Must head along to the Katharine Mansfield Park soon then …
    With the advised freshening up in the minds eye, I’m falling ever-more in love with it. I like the monochrome palette, and the emphasis on the silhouette – adore the back of the skirt! Must find a way to apply that graceful sweeping train in a new project somewhere (Fantail Historical turned out absolutely stunning, I’ll add!).

  16. Emma Louise says

    It’s a pretty pink delight. I really like the shape of the skirt and the layered monochrome fabric. I’m less certain about the armpit flowers, then again if I wore this dress I would probably snip off most of the flowers. Though that’s really personal preference, and (I guess?) a simpler preference than the 1890s would usually go for.

  17. Margot says

    For a very fancy dress I love its simplicity and fall 9/10, the back is stunning and gives a clearer picture

  18. Barbara says

    I understand why the owner loved this dress; I would have loved it too. So many of the dresses I’ve been looking at from this time feel so heavy, weighted down with dark, ponderous fabric and embellishments. This dress feels so light and feminine by comparison. Finally, a dress that feels right to wear in warm and sunny places! The peachy pink fabric is delicious, and so flattering on pale skin tones.
    The dress is especially pretty from the back ~ a lovely entrance and pretty exit dress. One of my favorite dresses ever.

    • Tsu Dho Nimh says

      Definitely a good dress to flounce OUT of a room in, isn’t it?

  19. Oh I love this one!
    One of my favorite eras plus fairy tale elegance in a delightful balance!

  20. Florence says

    Sorry to say, but it is just too floofy for me. Like a pile of cotton candy.
    The fabric is pretty, but I think it lacks structure and the proportions in the bodice feel slightly off to me.

  21. Hearthrose says

    Absolutely heroine worthy.

    I simply adore this color, it’s so flattering. The details are lovely and subtle, and I’m glad to see this dress got the wear it clearly deserves.


  22. Gillian Stapleton says

    My goodness, what a fabric and colour. Just the shade for the first delicate blooms of spring. This must have been a complete stunner in its day, and no wonder it was a favourite dress fr its original owner. I’m usually ‘take it or leave it’ when 1890s clothes appear, but the beauty of this gown won me over.


  23. Susan Ewing says

    As a well endowed lady, I’m not a fan of the poofy bodice as they make me feel even bigger, but on a lady with lesser up top the pleats and chiffon draping would be fine. I don’t like the chiffon rosettes at the shoulder on front and back and the sleeve hem, though at the waist they are a nice accent.
    The fabric is lovely and the moire patterning shows how the actual process of heating and pressure created the effect in the day.


  24. Martha Miranda says

    Just Gorgeous my favorite
    fabrics, simply delightful

  25. Karrin willey says

    As a self-taught seamstress I really appreciate the delicate hand work that went into making this magical dress….any young woman would be over the moon . But I do think that a brunette would be perfect…a blond would be completely washed out by this color.

  26. Kathryn says

    I love the dress as a whole, but I literally thought I was looking at raw chicken cutlets for a second.

  27. Nadima says

    I love this dress ..waw its gorgeous ..I wish to get married in a dress like this ..I only change the color in off white or light beige..its ROMANTIC ,ELEGANT,…INNOCENT, …NOSTALGIC,.. AND SO SWEET!…….THANK YOU!!!

  28. Susanna says

    A dream dress for it’s time! I love the color,fit, fabric. I’d remove the rosettes under the armpits and the top middle rose. There’s enough beauty on top already. To the mid-bottom, I’d use same-fabric, the sheer and the silk and add a medium sized and slightly larger sized French rosettes sewen on, a la Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress! This is a beauty of a dress!

  29. Kelli Larusic says

    How could you not feel like utter perfection in such a beautiful dress. Its dreamy

  30. 9/10. Must have been eretheral on a fair young woman. Lots of feminine details rosettes,sheer overlay yet fitted enough to show off the feminine form. Loved it!

  31. Patricia M Jacoby says

    The dress is just beautiful, I love it, a little less bows would be better or no bows is better,well anyway it’s beautiful.

  32. Hannah says

    Absolutely in LOVE with this dress!! Wouldn’t change a thing me! Would love to wear it! For me it’s a 10

  33. Alisandria Yvette Rhine says

    The color of the dress befits the beauty and style of the era. Placement of the
    Flowers sets off the shape of the figure. The woman or young miss who wore this would. cast an ethereal grace upon her personage and capture many eyes of many an admirers . I rate this a 10 for its loveliness.

  34. Holy Moly says

    Absolutely gorgeous except for the flowers in the armpits.

  35. Sylvie says

    So beautiful..love the delicate color and wonderful style.

  36. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    It’s like a ruffled pink iris or peony. I hate it! Because it makes me like pink, floofy sugar-sweet gowns.

    Excellent restraint and contrast between the sweep of shimmery stripe silk on the skirt and train and the flowers and gauze on the bodice, all in shades of blush pink. A less confident designer might have messed up the skirt with trim or tried to contrast.


  37. Colette says

    I would accessorize with a long silver wand and tiara a la Glinda. 10/10.

  38. Cate says

    This is gorgeous and I dearly want to make something inspired by it. The color is one of my favorites. However I can’t help but wish that the bodice was a little less busy, and maybe that it had full-length sleeves. Just because of the little quibbles, I’ll have to say 9.5.

  39. Phyllis says

    Absolutely gorgeous for the era.
    Very elegant. 10/10

  40. Mary L Burns says

    I thought the color was nice and i liked the flowers around the waist didnt care for the other flowers or their placement. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  41. Penny says

    The young woman that wore this must have looked and felt like a dream!
    Love the simplicity and the tone on tone.

  42. Claire Payne says

    At first glance it looks like a very fussy frock but on closer inspection I find it is actually well balanced and rather appealing. I must confess that you won my vote by mentioning magnolias blooming as it is a perfect spring pink. I love the silk and chiffon and the flowers. I like how the detail is focused on the bodice. I’m not usually one for the Belle Epoch but this one is a winner. My score is…. Drum roll please…

    10 out of 10

  43. Pal K says

    Perk it all up with a good steaming and right undergarments and it is accurately described as a confection
    I noted that it is from a Swedish Museum and I can picture it on a Nordic Early Summer day much more than I can on Anne’s Maritime Province

    A cotton candy 10/10

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