Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1780s stonefruit hues

Robe a  l’anglaise, ca 1780 France, Museo de la Moda

We’re supposed to be heading into late spring here in New Zealand, but we’ve just been hit by a cold front, and it’s feeling decidedly un-springy. So I’m dreaming of warm days, and more spring flowers, and summer fruit. So this week’s Rate the Dress is a 1780s frock in warm season shades of apricot and peach.

Last Week: a ca. 1850 mourning dress.  

Your overall consensus on last week’s dress was that it was mourning at its most chic and tasteful. Even people who weren’t fond of black, or mourning, felt it was a particularly attractive example of both. And you really enjoyed seeing the options for completing the outfit, and how it would how it would have been styled in its most fashionable, and idealised, version.

The Total: 9.5 out of 10

A happy rating for a dress for a sad occasion.  

This week: an 1780s dress in apricot and peach

This week’s Rate the Dress is an excellent example of the transitional styles of the early 1780s, with older elements and newer fads mixed together.

Robe à l’anglaise, ca 1780 France, Museo de la Moda
Robe à l’anglaise, ca 1780, France, Museo de la Moda

I always feel there ought to be a specific name for this type of 1780s robe. It’s such a distinctive style, with the tabbed bodice coming down over the skirts at the front and side, and the ‘Italian Gown’ back.

Robe à l’anglaise, ca 1780 France, Museo de la Moda
Robe à l’anglaise, ca 1780, France, Museo de la Moda

The brocaded silk is still quite pastel and floral, but shows the move away from the exuberant serpentine curves of the mid 18th century, towards the more restrained, linear neoclassical aesthetic. The overall silhouette of the dress is quite classic, but the higher back and very slim sleeves are very much of the 1780s. The stiff, restrained ‘cigarette roll’ trim is typical of the 1770s and 80s, and echoes the fabric in its move from the rococo froth of earlier dresses.

Robe à l’anglaise, ca 1780 France, Museo de la Moda

What do you think? A good blend of sweetness and severity?

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. Very pleasing combination of colorway and style. The trims seem well-manipulated (although I would love to see close-ups).
    9 of 10

  2. 10/10 ….for me it is everything that is delightful and delicious about the 18thc! I can tell there’s fly fringe on the trim too so that alone would make the gown just a visual treat if you were up close to it. Yummmm.

  3. Elaine says

    I love the colors and like the fabric a lot. I don’t care for the rolled decoration down the front of the dress. It looks especially awkward to me the way the two lines seem to spring from the tabbed bodice, which already looks clumsy and awkward to me. On the other hand, I really like the back view. What seems strange to me is that the skirt in the front seems to jut straight out, which I don’t like at all, but from the rear it curves nicely. I’m not sure how that is possible – optical illusion, maybe? 6.5/10.

  4. nofixedstars says

    i find this a perfect and beautiful exemplar of its time. i would happily wear it, even though i am not, in ordinary life, prone to donning pastels. but one must make exceptions for this period, and this sunny thing is very simply lovely.

    rating: 10/10

  5. I really like the fabric on this one–tasteful, restrained, but cheerful. And I’m fine with most of the design, except for the “rolled” decoration down the front, which feels too severe for my taste. The narrow sleeves and the rest of the silhouette are great!

    9.5 out of 10

  6. kathy in KY says

    I hate the wide-hip style, but have to admire how they cut it so the stripes stay vertical even out on the sides! The cigarette rolls are OK on the sleeves, I guess, and just maybe maybe OK on the neckline, but I would sure like to take them off the skirt. I give it 7

  7. I like the fabric and the silhouette. And I admire the way in the which the pattern was matched along the front opening of the bodice, if it indeed opens at the middle front as the first photo appears to show. Despite those positive qualities, I really dislike the trim. The cigarette roll trim seems very heavy along the front of the skirt and I don’t care how the trim extends over the shoulders along the neckline. The cigarette roll trim seems less prominent on the sleeves.


  8. Claire Payne says

    All I can think of when looking at this dress is either curtains or wallpaper, such is the influence of trends on both clothing and interior design. I love the shade of yellow but I’m struggling to love more than the colour. The gathered trim down the front and on the cuffs is appealing but for some reason, I’m just not enthralled unfortunately.

    6 out of 10

  9. I love the sherbet color of the textile. I find the tabs on the front bodice interesting; wondering if they’re a purposeful reference to Elizabethan or Jacobean fashions. I see some complaints about the trim, but between the boxy cut of the tabs and the linear design of the textile, I think it creates a harmonious whole. I can imagine this with a lace or frothy net kerchief, perhaps a corsage, and flower trimmed hat to offset the overall simplicity. Any minor issues I have are more about the proportion of the back neck trim vs the curve of the back neck bodice.


  10. I don’t like the trim that comes down the sides of the over skirt. It kind of makes the front look like it’s draping oddly instead of just the difference between the over and under skirt. It’s also a bit too fussy for my taste. Other than that though I really like this one.


  11. Linda Kato says

    I’m just curious – Does the bodice close in the center front? I’m presuming that it is moving away from the stomacher style to something more akin to a front closing jacket-like bodice of the late 18th century. Please clarify. It’s fascinating. I like the tabs and it is indeed a great educational example of transitional styles and motifs of this period. I think it would look a lot better and do more justice to the fabric and interesting bodice with just the petticoat and no over skirt. But that is the full transition to the 1780s. Thank you for sharing.

  12. JessieRoo says

    I do like how restrained this is. It has a nice, neat silhouette and the trim has so much texture. I’m not a fan of the bodice waist tabs though. I think they would look better in a stronger color or if their trim was darker and gave them more definition. As is, they look a little too casual. Overall, it’s a perfectly respectable gown that was clearly made wuth care, but it just doesn’t excite me very much.

  13. Oh my goodness, what a perfect dress. The self-fabric trim is beautifully balanced and very effective – restraint without severity – and the overall proportions are lovely. The print is very pretty, and the print placement very well done.
    On my screen the fabric reads as a warm golden yellow, but that’s neither here nor there.
    Everything about this dress pleases my eye, so:


  14. Kathy Hanyok says

    Sherbet is exactly what I thought. I’m not used to seeing robbing only on the skirt and not on the bodice, but I do love the play of the stripes, especially on the back. Sweet but not too frothy. 9/10

  15. It’s so much fun! I think I have a bit of fabric with a very similar aesthetic.


  16. Emma Louise says

    Although I do think it has been well considered and put together, I still can’t love it. The fabric is nice and the trim around the neck and sleeves adds interest, but I’m not a fan of the tabs or the trim on the skirt.

  17. Cirina says

    It’s nice, but not outstanding. I like the back, but the front decoration and design of the skirt seems off to me.
    Maybe the combination of the regular “wallpaper” pattern and the stiff decoration is a bit much.


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