Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Fresh green française stripes

This week’s Rate the Dress may be familiar to many of you.  For others, it may be a happy (or, this being Rate the Dress, indifferent) introduction.  Whichever the case, I hope you enjoy looking at it more closely!

Last Week:  an 1810s dress is very, very yellow silk

There’s quite a lot that people agreed on about last week’s frock.  You agreed the dress was indeed very historically-accurate-Bridgerton-esque.  That it was most likely later than the date given by the family (which did mean it was exactly the right era to be worn by the sisters).  You almost all thought the sleeves were very nice indeed.  And that the hem treatment was clumsy and unrefined, but that the overall effect was deliciously sunny and happy.

In fact, this was one of the most concensus-y dresses we’ve had in a long time.  There was two ratings for 10, and one for 6, but every other rating clusetered in the 7-9 range, with the vast majority at 8-8.5.  Which means it should be no surprise that the final tally is…

The Total: 8.2 out of 10

A very cohesive rating.

This week: a 1770-80 française in green striped silk

I’ve had this dress on my ‘to feature on Rate the Dress’ list for a long time.  Despite that, I really debated whether to feature this dress as a Rate the Dress.  It’s so well known that it seems redundant to show it.

I finally decided to because it seems unfair not to showcase well known garments: after all, that removes so many of the most visually striking, well photographed dresses out there!

This Robe à  la française dates to the last decade in which the française was still a  fashionable choice, instead of a conservative choice.

The  française may have been on the decline, but this one still demonstrates up-to-the-minute design elements.  Gone are the floating rococo ruffles, replaced by linear trim held down by multiple lines of stitching.  Even the ‘fly fringing’ silk trim is features small, controlled repeats.  The attached stomacher is also typical of this decade.

Interestingly, the striped silk fabric was imported from China.  It’s a great illustration of how extensive the fabric trading networks were at the time, and how the fabrics being imported also reflected changing European tastes.  Instead of the painted florals and exotic scenes that were only available in imported fabrics, these serene stripes could have been woven in Europe, but the fabric was still worth bringing in.

What do you think of this green française with its play on stripes?  Is it the perfect example of late era française?

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. Stafford Belinda says

    I love it. I happen to have blue and white striped silk, and I think this might be the right inspiration. Does the neckline seems higher than usual?I think this dress is elegant, restrained rather than exuberant.

    • It’s hard to tell if the neckline is the way the museum has mounted it, or intentional. It could definitely be intentional: the 1780s really played with neckline height (we gave the Amalia jacket a higher neckline to reflect this). It could also be that the specific person it was made for had a really short shoulder to bust point measure, so it looks high on the dressform.

  2. Love the grass green stripes! And I love the fabric and construction–except for the ruffle running straight across the underskirt (which is visible in the center front).

    9.5 out of 10.

  3. I also love the striped fabric’s overall look and the unusually fresh color. and although I applaud the creative use of fabric manipulation, the ruching creates an unevenness which intrudes on the overall appeal for my eyes/brain.

    8.5 of 10

  4. Kathy Hanyok says

    I absolutely adore this gown, Green is my favorite [I have a similar silk stripe but, sadly, not enough]. The only problem I have is with the lace ruffle at the neckline. I think it probably is added for the staging, so I’ll allow it. Going to remeasure my silk! 10!

  5. Please do post the famous dresses! I don’t generally rate, because so many of your readers are incredibly knowledgeable and rate on things I wouldn’t even know to consider. But, as an amateur non-historical sewer, I love to read your description and then the discussion in the comments. I learn so much and it inspires my modern sewing. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t know the famous dresses.

    • PepperReed says

      You should totally rate! Amateur or not, you know what you like and why — the feel of the dress is just as important (if not more) than the technical details or presentation. Whomever had this dress made, did it because they loved it and wanted to wear something fantastic that fit well and made them feel great.

      Besides, we all are continuing to learn, which is one of the best parts, while it’s possible the dress owner was obsessed over the cut of the sleeves, they were likely to just be happy about a pretty green dress.

    • JessieRoo says

      I agree, don’t be shy about sharing your opinion just because you may be less knowledgeable about fashion history or techniques. Not being an expert probably gives you fresh perspective; if you don’t know what to look for, you likely consider the whole thing. And even if not, Rate The Dress is all about personal opinion, and you are as entitled to share yours as anyone else is.

  6. I really like this gown! The higher neckline for me personally would work out because I’m rather modest. I love stripes and I love the way that they played with the geometry of the stripes. This would be a fun dress to wear in the spring or early summer I’ll give it a 10 out of 10!

  7. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I’ve actually never seen this one before. It’s gorgeous and the colour is so striking and a shade seldom seen.

    10 out of 10 for pure perfection. I can’t see a single thing wrong with this. It’s so pleasing.

    • I second this start to finish. I may have actually seen it before, but definitely not to ther extent of thinking it famous. Although I like it so much I am not surprised it might be. 🙂

  8. Mariana says

    I like this dress a lot! I’m not 100% sold on the white stripes, as the stripes plus the skirt shape remind me a little of a circus tent, but the green and the uneven size of the stripes help mitigate the effect. I love the color, which is vibrant and spring-y and not too yellow. I like the way the stripe is broken up by the treatment of the trim. It’s not my most favorite of styles, but I think it’s a superb example of what it is.

  9. It reminds me of one of those melons with stripy skins. And I like that. It’s fresh and fun and different. It must have created quite a stir.

  10. nofixedstars says

    it’s just beautiful. i love the green, the stripes, the restrained trimming. it’s such a happy dress! my mind immediately ran off to plan the best accessories for it.

    rating: 10/10

  11. Johanna says

    My first thought when I saw it was “cucumber”, well after that I had a bit of a problem with taking the whole ensemble seriously. I love how the maker has worked with the stripes, and overall it’s a gorgeous gown. I try to imagine it in other colours, but it’s hard to think about a colour that would not give strange association, red would look too much like candy for example. So maybe it’s a little bit overthought in the end.


  12. Lillianne says

    This is so me! Favourite color, favourite shape. I have the celery coloured silk set aside to do one of these, I only wish it had the lovely stripes this does. 10/10.

  13. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Very nice. I like the restraint of the self-trim, and they way they use the stripes.


  14. Lylassandra says

    Well-known is in the eye of the Googler, it seems, because I’ve never seen this before! The stomacher intrigues me– I’m not sure I’ve seen one that played with the horizontal stripes like that. It makes it look very modern. I’m not usually fond of stripes or that shade of green, but there’s something captivating about this gown. Visually arresting and chic.


    • PepperReed says

      Agreed. Never in my imagination would I have put green stripes together in this style, but the sum is greater than the parts.

  15. Cirina says

    Very chic. I have some minor issues with the stomacher, so

  16. Malin says

    Love it! Just the right amount of discreet frilliness with an otherwise rather simple style and fabric. Such a pretty and cheerful colour to, just the right colour to make it stand out just a little.

  17. Crumpled Rag says

    Green is my favourite colour, which obviously makes me biased, but this dress is fantastic. Elegant, poised but not over the top.

  18. I am a professional natural dyer so of course my interest is in the colors of garments. Would love to know what dyes were used. Perhaps arsenic or copper were used. Not the healthiest of choices if so.

  19. PepperReed says

    Well. I have one who as never seen this dress, so I’m very happy that you’ve shared it!

    I’m not familiar enough with this era (I prefer the American dress vs British or European) to know the finer points of early and late, but while I don’t know the details of sleeve changes, I *DO* know that this dress is FANTASTIC. The reason it’s well known has everything to do with that amazing fresh green color and the crisp optical illusions in the stripes. This feels almost modern in it’s sensibility and whomever wore it had all eyes on them; likely much to their delight!

    I rarely rate perfection, but this is a bold dress and it’s mode and mood are 10/10.

    • Pepperreed says

      Also — upon closer inspection I like the ‘shadow’ stripes running horizontally through the fabric creating a subtle plaid pattern. Looks great!

  20. Debbie says

    That is lovely! Can not imagine the time and effort. Thank you for sharing this one. 8/10

  21. JessieRoo says

    When I first saw this dress I didn’t think “cucumber!”, but now that someone else has said that, I can’t unsee the cucumber-y silhouette of the skirt and the similarity of patterning between vegetable skins and the fabric, and that all just reinforces my initial reaction: what a fresh, summery dress! I didn’t get around to commenting on time for my rating to count in the official tally, but I’m here now to say that I really like this dress! The color has just the right amount of brightness to be eyecatching and evoke spring and summer greenery without being garish, and the stripes are graphic and bold enough to look good in the large, smooth expanses of skirt, yet also stand up to being ruched. The proportions are very nice as well, and the skirt is quite graceful despite looking like one half of a heirloom cucumber.


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