Unlike the probable wearer of last week’s 20s silk number, I’ve had no time for lounging around the country club drinking cocktails (although in my case, it would be mocktails) and watching tennis. I’ve been nose to the grindstone marking student papers and finishing off the next Scroop Pattern.
But this weekend I hope to have a little relaxing time, so this week’s Rate the Dress is something to relax in – in the most decadent way possible.
Last Week: a sporty 1920s day dress in spring shades
Some of you loved the light, fresh colours of last week’s dress, and the way the little details played out across the design. Others were not so convinced, but for a whole host of reasons. Some loved the collar, but thought everything else was blah. Others really disliked the collar, but liked the rest. Some thought it was perfectly nice and charming, but not at all memorable. And then some of you marked it down simply because you don’t like tennis!
The Total: 7.6 out of 10
It managed to squeak up .1 point higher than the red velvet dress of the week before, so that’s a little improvement at least!
This week: an 1830s banyan and waistcoat of 1740s fabric
I’m slightly obsessed with 18th century textiles that have been recycled into 19th century garments at the moment, so thought an example of the practice would be an interesting Rate the Dress:
This 1830s ensemble comprising a waistcoat and banyan has been re-made from ca. 1740 silk brocade.
Banyans (or dresssing gown, robe de chambre, or the many other names which they were called in fashion articles of the time) were to menswear in the 1830s what tea gowns were to womenswear in the 1890s: elegant, informal, at-home-only attire for showing off your wealth, taste, and knowledge to your closest friends.
They had evolved from the loose, wrapping banyans imported from India and the Middle East during the 17th and 18th century to be the highly structured garment shown here. Although the skirt is longer, and the fabric bolder, the cutting and sewing techniques of this ensemble closely mirror the patterning and tailoring of fashionable jackets.
This one has a beautifully rolled shawl collar, a double-breasted front fastening, and gathered sleeves on the banyan, with a exaggerated notched collar and matching double-breasted front on the waistcoat.
As informal, high-status garments, banyans were an excuse for men to wear more interesting, dynamic fabrics than the sombre hues that dominated formal day and evening wear in the 1820s and 30s. Fashion plates and extant garments show a range of fabrics on banyans, from large scale toile de jouys, to imported block prints and silks that acknowledge the banyans roots, to quirky roll printed cottons, and decorative braiding and applique. The range of colours and prints rivals anything seen in women’s dresses at the time.
The luxurious nature of banyans, and the skilled workmanship of this one, suggest that the fabric recycled from an 18th century dress not for reasons of practicality and thrift, but rather for its aesthetic appeal.
It’s certainly a striking fabric, with its pomegranates and florals in blue, pink, green and yellow on cream, with lace-like patterning in ivory adding further depth.
What do you think? Would this banyan and matching waistcoat impress all the wearers guest with his taste and status?
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.