Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: the new look in lace, 1810s style

Evening dress, 1817, patterned silk gauze called 'Madras lace' with silk satin trim, Fashion Museum Bath

This week I’ve picked a Rate the Dress that includes some of the romantic historicism of last week, and some very new technology as well.

How will it fare in comparison?

Last Week: an 1870s dress with 18th century inspiration

Ratings on last week’s dress were quite divided: a solid grouping of 8-10 scores, and then another cluster of 5-6 scores.

Interestingly, raters who I recognise as usually anti-frou-frou were quite willing to like this one, whereas some of you who are generally more positive of the extremely-sweet weren’t so keen on this one.  So a dress to subvert usual reactions…

The Total: 7.7 out of 10

Although it’s hardly a stellar rating, and not many of you commented, I was extremely pleased with last week’s Rating.  As at ratings closing time it totalled 100.5.  So close to perfectly round!

This week: an 1810s dress with spotted lace and scalloped trim

This week’s Rate the dress blends historicism with a robust appreciation for the latest trends, and the latest technology.

Evening dress, 1817, patterned silk gauze called 'Madras lace' with silk satin trim, Fashion Museum Bath

Evening dress, 1817, patterned silk gauze called ‘Madras lace’ with silk satin trim, Fashion Museum Bath

The puffed sleeves of this dress definitely owe at least part of their design to the Renaissance inspiration so common in the late 1810s.   The standing frill of scalloped edging nods at an Elizabethan ruff.

At the same time, the scalloped hem, scalloped front border, and double rows of satin cording holding the ruched front panel in place, are all very a la mode for the late 1810s, while also hinting at the 15th century.

And finally, the dress fully embraces new technology in its materials choice.  It’s made from ‘Madras lace’, a new patterned gauze weave made possible by the invention of a loom that could weave lace-like net fabrics in 1809.

Evening dress, 1817, patterned silk gauze called 'Madras lace' with silk satin trim, Fashion Museum Bath

Evening dress, 1817, patterned silk gauze called ‘Madras lace’ with silk satin trim, Fashion Museum Bath

What do you think?  Does the decadent combination of old and new, satin shine and lace froth, appeal aesthetically?

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. Lulu Lang says

    The dress is so pretty. I wish I knew what color it was. I’d give it an 8

  2. AnnaKarenibaHerself says

    I would guess, that this one is gonna be popular because it’s „regency“ and because there is nothing wrong with it. I had never heard of „Regency“ before I moved to London, because in Germany (at least pre-2000) this style was known as „Empire“ after the French, Napoleonic Empire (1804-1814). And I’ve always found it super chic. But I mean the classical, slick and super flattering French styles with long trains that were worn about 10-15 years prior to this sweet frock from 1817. It reminds me of that particular kind of prim manierisms actresses with high pitched voices and „ posh“ accents put on in all those Jane-Austin-Movies. I’ve never managed to watch any of these productions . This dress here is kind of typical for the English „Regency“ Era (1811-1820). It‘s dainty, girlish and decorative and I don’t like it. I give this a 5

    • Trust me these kind of frocks were worn on the continent as well. In fact, evidence in portraits of the time suggests that the continental, and particularly German, fashion was, if anything, significantly primmer, frillier, and girlier than the English style of the same period.

  3. I find this fascinating – it’s almost more like sculpture than garment. The elements seem visually well-balanced, and the fabric appropriately delicate.
    My main concern is that the bands might catch on things an tear away.
    9 of 10

  4. Anna says

    Okay, so I would wear it, but there is something about the solid, non-lace hem that bothers me…I would prefer lace all the way down I think.


  5. Sharon says

    It’s a beautiful dress and would have been an absolute stunner in its day. I love the sleeve details and the way attention is drawn to the body of the dress, not the trimmings. 10 out of 10 for me.

  6. Tracy Ragland says

    I like it, but don’t love it. The thing that really throws me off is that each of the scalloped sections is a different size. The radii of the bodice scallops are much more pointy than those running vertically on the skirt and those are different from the hemline scallops. It just makes it seem so very busy.


  7. I am not usually a fan of the early 1800s clothing, but I’ve been doing some research lately on this era. I absolutely love this dress! It is deceivingly simple looking but after the research I found that these dresses were quite complex to make. I admire all of the detail work! As it has been over 100° here for several days it’s going to get hotter, I would really appreciate having a dress like this to wear right now! Considering that I don’t care for the early 1800s, I am surprising myselfBy giving this particular dress a 10 out of 10!

  8. Pal K says

    My first reaction is that it looked like it was made out of porcelain (Specifically Irish Belleek)
    So based on my completely emotional response to my first impression

  9. Kathy Hanyok says

    I always like it when I learn something new from these exercises. I had never heard of Madras lace before and wish I could
    examine it closely. I think this gown is charming and beautifully made but the color (probably faded) is kind of boring. That being said, it is dainty, girlish, and decorative and I DO like it. 9/10

  10. It is fortuitous that you posted this gown this week. Some of us (esp. US lower-48 residents) are presently experiencing very hot weather. This gown looks like the perfect thing to wear in such weather, with its light color and very lightweight fabric.

    I like this gown too. Actually, I like it even better than last week’s gown. I think the scallop motif mostly works very well with the style, fabric, and ribbon trim chosen. (I don’t see the historical elements as being very noticeable here,, but to my mind that’s a good thing!)

    9.5 out of 10. The only thing I don’t like is the satin (?) fabric scalloped motif at the hem.

  11. Glenda Jackson says

    Its gorgeous! I’d like it better without the stand up scallops at the shoulder. I give it a 9 out of 10.

  12. Dora says

    Wow! I adore this dress! I’m not usually drawn towards dresses from this era, but this one is surprisingly eye catching- strange considering it’s colour (or lack thereof). I actually like the different sizes of scallops, as they seem appropriately sized for where they are on the body. I do wish the lace went to the bottom and wasn’t the inverse of the other scallops; I think it would look more cohesive with the same scallop shape as on the rest of the dress. The waistline is, to my eye, at just the right height to be flattering.

    The scallops at the neckline actully reminded me of how tuckers often peek out and stand up like that on 18th century dresses, but I can see the nod to Elizabethan style.

    I’d wear this in a heartbeat! 9/10

  13. Emma says

    I really like this one. It’s very pretty and I like the bands across the front. In fact, I like everything except the scalloped decoration at the hem.

  14. Emma Louise says

    There is alot going on and I’m glad it’s all one colour. But I’m still not a fan, the design is quite structural but the fabric is fluid and I don’t really like the combination. Though I do prefer how the design works on the bodice to how it looks on the skirt. Also, the differing styles of scalloping are throwing me off.

  15. Jamie LaMoreaux says

    I give it a 10 and a solid one at that. I can just imagine the different colored underdresses you could wear to change up the look. the deb wearing this dress must have felt VERY special and lovely in it. with the gold dots flashing off the candlelights. how dashing!

  16. Rachel H says

    I love this dress, I think the material and the details look so good together.

  17. Lylassandra says

    Not normally a fan of Regency at all, but this one is WOW! Honestly, the delicate layers are giving me strong Ever After vibes. I really admire how the embellished fabric, the horizontal trim, and the scallops all form a cohesive whole. 10/10

  18. This is not one of my favourite eras of fashion, but something about this particular dress does appeal to me. I like the colour and the scallops are quite interesting.
    I’ve never commented on rate the dress before, but this one drew me in!


  19. Johanna says

    This is a lovely little fluffy piece. The only thing I don’t like is the satin cording in the front. I see the historical inspiration, but when it goes all the way from the bust to the hem it looks too much like a cage or some kind of bondage. That detracts from my final score.


  20. Cynthia Ouellette says

    I live this look. From the lace to the trim, it’s simple but elegant. The only thing I’m on the fence about is the horizontal strips going across the bottom half of the dress. I probably would leave those off or make them crisscross. But otherwise, I give the dress 9/10.

  21. Debbie Farthing says

    The satin trim must have caught the light as the wearer moved through a room. I like that it brings attention to the wearer’s shoulders and face as well as down the front to her feet (undoubtedly clad in lovely slippers). It gives admirers the chance to literally look her over head to toe with something to see all over without being ostentatious or gaudy.

  22. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Everything I do not like in my clothing … dainty, beribboned and lacy

    But it’s such a great example of the mode of its time, and I’ve seen many of them cavorting in the pages of the fashion journals.


  23. Penny says

    I love the fabric. I had not heard of Madras lace before, so glad to learn something new. The little gold details look a bit reflective and probably sparkled in a candle-lit ballroom beautifully.

    I love the sleeves. Gotta love a good puff sleeve and the extra layer of renaissance trim is lovely.

    I actually don’t mind the scalloped hem. But the satin trim down the middle looks a little awkward to me. Like the dressmaker knew they wanted to do something there, but had no idea what. Is it meant to evoke criss-cross lacing? It’s throwing me off too.

    But otherwise it is very pretty. 8/10

  24. nofixedstars says

    a pretty enough frock, and i find the scallops inoffensive. i agree that the bodice is the most successful area of the dress, but that is not uncommon. ornamental but not ostentatious, it has enough decoration going on to be interesting but not so much that it detracts from the simplicity of the all-white look. i think it’s actually quite sophisticated despite the mild random quality of the scallops, and they manage to look graphic rather than twee.

    the madras lace is new to me as well, and i’d like to know more about that name.

    overall, not earth-shaking, but quite pretty and rather more than the sum of its parts.

    rating: 8/10

  25. This is a lovely dress and fits in with my love of all white on white garments and objects using textures instead of colors to enhance details. This is a very flattering silhouette. I very much like the differences in the widths and lengths of the panels as it creates a progression and directs the eyes to the bodice and sleeves. I give it a 9 1/2/10

  26. So very pretty! To my mind the fabric at the hem seemed practical. It gives a little weight to keep the skirt from floating around and catching on things. I am new to this sight…so fun and educational Thank you.
    A 9..5

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