Rate the dress
comments 26

Rate the Dress: Yellow & Blonde late Regency

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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!

Last Week a 1920s dress of voided velvet in vibrant orange

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.

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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.

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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.

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

This dress is a typical mid-late 1810s evening dress, made interesting by its vivid colour and lavish Renaissance-inspired sleeves.

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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.

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

It features scalloped rouleaux hem decorations, trimmed with blonde lace (follow the link to read the history of blonde lace).

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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?

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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?

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively,  Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

Evening Dress, silk and blonde lace, 1815, said to have been worn by Miss Mary Ann Knapp and Miss Sarah Ann Knapp, who were born in 1802 and 1803, respectively, Helen Larson private collection sold by Whitakers Auctions

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.

26 Comments

  1. The colour is pretty indeed but this feels overly fussy and billowy to me. There’s a lot going on with all the trims and it all just feels a bit much.
    7/10

  2. I very much like the fine stripe and rich color of the fabric, butI don’t care for the skirt trimming – just looks messy – but agree that it does need some sort of trimming. Also do not care for the front neckline – again, looks messy.
    8 of 10

  3. Daniel Milford Cottam says

    I think it’s later than 1815 too. Looks around 1820 to me especially with the rouleaux around the hem. I like it, I don’t think it’s the most refined dress but I think it’s lovely, that yellow is so alive and even if it is a little clunky in bits up close, it’s still extremely charming.

    7.5/10 – it’s not the best example, and there’s a lot of things that could be refined on but it’s still a thoroughly likeable dress.

  4. Wow, this is a *very* yellow dress! It’s a good example of its period, too, and the trimmings are well-executed and not excessive in quantity. Though I don’t care for the satin strap between where the breasts would rest on the bodice.

    Unfortunately it is *so* yellow that I cannot imaging most mortals looking well in it. It makes last week’s orange creation seem boring by comparison.

    7.0 out of 10.

  5. Veronica says

    I adore this! Any shade of yellow is just marvellous in my books, and I suspect it would look quite different under candlelight. The proportions are just so, but I agree the lower trim is a bit jarring – and I am quite tempted by the supposition it’s not necessarily original. (Terribly biased I may be, but straight to the Pinterest board for when I finally come up with an excuse to make a Regency dress!)
    10

  6. Sunny says

    I adore the material and the fabric manipulation on the sleeves. My brain is currently whirling in circles trying to figure out how that was done. Agree with other comments that the details at the neckline and the heaviness of the rouleaux trim at the hem let it down. Otherwise I love it!

    Bridgerton enthusiastically embraces all the romance tropes, from the fun to the annoying. You kind of have to take it on its own terms. Don’t walk in expecting a Jane Austen story. I cracked up every time I spotted another lace fabric I’ve seen for sale recently!

    8/10

  7. I love this dress! Well I do agree that it is very fussy, that is part of the charm of it. I can imagine someone wearing this a fancy event. And really standing out. I give this dress a 10 out of 10

  8. JessieRoo says

    I like this one a lot. The bright yellow looks sunny and cheerful and would make a whole room feel warmer. I also find clear yellows like this more flattering than the (now) more popular mustard shades. It’s a shame the skirt trimmings are so clumsy when the rest looks precise and airy. If they’d been done with a lighter hand I think they would suit the style very well though. I guess I am on team Joyfully Exuberant!
    8/10

  9. I do like the thought of sisters wearing this dress (even if it’s not true!), as it seems sweet. That striped fabric that looks almost like the tiniest pleats in creation is also lovely.

    It is SO yellow. It probably looks grand on people with dark skin. I can’t help thinking of the high-visibility vest I wear on my bike when I try to transpose it onto my cherry-cheeked, pale self, however.

    I am not into that padded trim on the hem at all.

    8/10 for verve, bravery, and those sleeves!

  10. Lisa A says

    Gorgeous color and frothy, delicate bodice and sleeves, but as others have noted, the skirt decoration isn’t handled as deftly. It reminds me vaguely of a parade float or balloon gondola decoration. Maybe when worn and in motion it would seem less rigid? 7.5

  11. kathy in KY says

    Love the color, LOVE the sleeves. Not so happy with the skirt decoration — the fat padded tubes seem to be (poorly) tacked on and don’t go with the rest of the dress. And the lace at the skirt seems too wispy/wimpy. If it were my dress I’d take all that crap off the skirt and just let it hang. Why do anything to distract attention from those fabulous sleeves and sexy decollete. I give it a 9

  12. Johanna says

    At first glance I loved this dress. Not for mysef, since I would look like a ghost in yellow, but I imagine it being worn by a person with a darker skintone and that would be so beautiful. After examining it a bit more I continue to love the upper parts of the gown, but the hem decorations seem a bit clunky. It is the rouleaux that weighs down the gown. Still I want to reward it for how much I liked it at first so:

    8,5/10

  13. Mandy-Jo says

    I’m living and dying by the sheer pin stripe overlay. I would happily be the citrus wallflower at Lady Danbury’s ball in this.

    Is it me or is the sweetheartish neckline a little uncommon for the period?

    9/10

  14. Emma Louise says

    I adore the happy looking striped yellow fabric and the puffy sleeves are rather cute. But I’m not such a fan of the rest of the design.
    7

  15. Crumpled Rag says

    A vibrant colour certainly, not for the faint-hearted!
    It’s apretty dress, that’s been embellished by somone with no idea of balance, I suspect the skirt trim was added later.

    The original would have been fine for the brave soul.

    8/10

  16. nofixedstars says

    i love the colour, and it certainly would have been appreciated in its day. sulphur yellows )and other strong shades) can look quite different by candlelight, and this would have been beautiful at an evening event. i like the sleeves, but i’m a bit less enthusiastic about the hem trim. i think the rouleau itself is fine, and the lace is nice enough, but there’s something about the combination of the lace edging the rouleau that doesn’t work for me. the sheer, striped silk is gorgeous, though.

    overall, a fine example of its time. just a couple of points off for the clumsy skirt trim.

    rating: 8/10

  17. Lady Mali of Taylorton says

    I love the silk fabric. But that rouleaux trim is just a bit much, quite heavy looking, and takes away from the delicate look of the dress. The color is lovely but not for everyone; would NOT be flattering on someone of a pale complexion.
    8.5/10

  18. Debbie Farthing says

    I love this color! It’s so nice to see a not-white Regency era dress. The rouleau at the bottom does look messy and I agree the lace seems to be a later addition. But the treatment of the sleeves and the bustline are beautiful.
    8.5/10

  19. Kathy Hanyok says

    This gown is so so bright and the skirt trim is so so clumsy that I struggle to believe the provenance. I think it’s probable that the trim was added more recently but that yellow is so yellow it must never have seen daylight in all it’s over 200 years. However, I do like the sleeves and the weave of the fabric. 6/10

  20. Personally, I’m not usually a fan of yellow, but this is purely delightful! Those architectural yet airy sleeves! Those wonderful pinstripes! I just live this dress, and although I couldnt get away with it, I agree that it would look very different in candlelight. I find it so interesting how people in the Regency saw yellow as such a universally flattering colour, and how often such a vivid or pastel yellow was combined with natural tones of silk and cotton.
    In another note, Ive been having trouble loading the pictures in your posts for some months. Often they take forever to load (vor atleast over 15mins), today half dont display at all. Could you check the settings or maybe reduce the quality? (I know many blogs habe lower quality pics hat first while still being able to click to see the full res) Would be very Grateful!
    9.5/10

  21. Heather says

    I love this dress! It definitely gives me Bridgerton vibes! I’m also a person who loves a historical gown in yellow and this is such a great shade. Bright and cheerful and definitely a dress for someone who isn’t afraid of standing out. Aside from the color, I also adore the texture of the fabric with the sheer ground and satin stripes.

    For making me smile on a rainy day,
    9/10

  22. Penny says

    I love it. The complexity of those sleeve puffs on top of puffed sleeves! Just divine.

    The large embellished sleeves and large corded trip on the bottom were quite common in the later regency period. That waistline looks like it’s a bit lower than the underbust too. So I’d definitely place it as later in the 18-teens. That said, the bottom trim looks a bit uneven, so might have been a later application

    Yellow is definitely not a colour I feel I can wear, but under candlelight on a very young woman with the right colouring this would be gorgeous. 9.0

  23. Looks like spun sugar! Esp those sleeves. All the young gentlemen must have been licking their chops when they saw a sweet young thing in this. An excellent yellow- and that’s from someone who won’t/can’t wear yellow. While the lace is fabulous in those excellent sleeves, it suddenly turns sad down below on the skirt. I imagines a little tasseling or fringe would have gone better, shimmying around her calves as she danced.
    I think I am commenting too late for a score, so no number included.

  24. I don’t usually like fussy things. But this dress is a piece of art. Maybe it is the fabric or level of skill of the maker or both. It looks delicate in a way that ligtens the big sleeves and decorations. They seem to work all together. It really isin’t my style though so maybe 9/10.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.