I have a confession. This week’s Rate the Dress is a backup. I had the perfect thing picked out, but when I when to write up this post…the MFA Boston’s collection website was down! So I grabbed a random thing off my Rate the Dress possibilities list. And that’s what you get!
Not everyone was sure that they personally could get away with wearing last week’s 20s frock. For me that’s the joy of Rate the Dress: appreciating all the things that wouldn’t suit you, but are still masters of what they are!
Despite the little question about wearability, most of you loved the frock. A couple couldn’t get past that classic ’20s shape, and a few of you pointed out that it really was just a very basic 20s dress, albeit in a very nice fabric.
The Total: 9.5 out of 10
Most appropriately to its colour, I think we could say this was a marmalade dress, instead of a marmite dress. Significantly more universally popular, but with a few naysayers.
This week: a 1810s dress is very, very yellow silk.
Although this wasn’t my first pick for Rate the Dress this week, I think that in this case necessity may have been a happy accident.
I’m always a fan of yellow (even if I personally think a garment is hideous, I appreciate its yellowness!). Plus, this week’s dress looks like the historically accurate version of some of the frocks from the current most-talked about costume drama.
I haven’t actually seen said drama (mostly because I’ve managed to watch about 6 hours of anything since Christmas – the weather is nice and my life is busy, but also because I like my drama to be as un-dramatic as possible, and I get the impression that’s not Bridgertons’ goal), but I’ve seen all the articles about its costumes.
This dress is a typical mid-late 1810s evening dress, made interesting by its vivid colour and lavish Renaissance-inspired sleeves.
The dress fastens at the upper back and waist with ties (and possibly a hook). This simple opening is very common on 1810s and 20s dresses, where modesty would be preserved by the undergarments, even if a small gap slipped open in the dress.
It features scalloped rouleaux hem decorations, trimmed with blonde lace (follow the link to read the history of blonde lace).
The lining and sash of the dress were both replaced in the 20th century. The hem trim is so large I wonder if it also might be a 20th century addition. However, it and the lace both match the much finer and more precise embellishments of the sleeve. But could the lace also be a late addition on the sleeve?
The possible alterations are one mystery with this dress, and the date is another. If the provenance is correct, the wearers of this dress would have been in their very early teens when they first wore the dress. It’s a very mature style for a 13 year old, and certainly seems to be shaped to accomodate a bust. I suspect it’s more likely that the dress dates to 1818 or so, or was actually worn by another member of the Knapp family.
So, a very inconclusive dress. All we’ll really be able to decide is how much we like it! What do you think? Is it garish and tacky? Or joyfully exuberant?
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.