Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Perky yellow 1780s

Sometimes I pick the week’s Rate the Dress because it represents some element of what I wish I was sewing at the moment.

Not this week! I’m not saying that I don’t adore this week’s dress (or, equally, that I do – though you probably know that I’m generally a fan of yellow, though, of course, some yellow garments are better than others…), but my heart is firmly in Edwardian petticoatery, and 18th century silks cannot sway me. But perhaps someday…

Last week:  a brilliant blue and floral late 1870s bustle era reception gown

Either the Rate the Dresses I’m posting are a major disappointment after the fabulosity of that 1910s evening gown, or you are all  super  busy.   Last week’s frock received very few comments, which was rather disappointing as it was such an interesting frock.  

They may have been few, but they were very interesting ratings – every number from 1 to 10 represented!  And what do you get when you have every number on the spectrum?

The Total: 5.2 out of 10

A very halfway score!  So it might not have been the most universally popular dress, but it was perfect for someone.

This week: a 1780s gown in buttercup yellow

This 1780s dress combines sleek taffeta and a smooth bodice with an abundance of poofs and frills.  

Robe à l'anglaise retroussee ca. 1780-82 From the Gemeentemuseum via Vergeten Harlingers

Robe à l’anglaise retroussee ca. 1780-82 From the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

The dress is identified as a robe à l’anglaise – a gown with a back panel that extends from the bodice down through to the skirt.  However, in looking at the photos I’m pretty sure it’s what the historical costuming community is now referring to as an Italian Gown – a dress with a fully separate skirt and bodice pieces.  

Robe à l'anglaise retroussee ca. 1780-82 From the Gemeentemuseum via Vergeten Harlingers

Robe à l’anglaise retroussee ca. 1780-82 From the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

As for retroussee?  That just means the skirt is designed to be bustled up, forming puffs!

What do you think?  Do you enjoy the simplicity of the fabric with the abundance of trimming?  

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. kathy in KY says

    I like the back more than the front — that beautiful poofy bustle is gorgeous (though I wonder what it looks like after she sits down and gets it wrinkled and flattened). The front seems to have one trimming too many for my taste — I would get rid of the scalloped ruffle on the skirt and just go with the smocking. The yellow is lovely. Give it a 9

  2. nofixedstars says

    i do enjoy the subtle contrast of the textural frills on the solid fabric. and i think it would have been a very pretty dress in its day. the fine white lace fichu and cuffs set it off perfectly. as always, i cannot help imagining the accessories a wearer might have chosen: large simple hat with matching yellow ribbon, i think, and dainty shoes in cream kid with more yellow ribbon at the latchets, and she would have some contrasting flowers at her breast…

    rating: 8/10

  3. A lovely summery garment. The color is delicious, and the fabric manipulation is striking.
    9 of 10

  4. I like it! A good basic dress that would look lovely with a variety of accessories. The petticoat trim is a bit odd though, I think the big ruffle and the smaller trim below it would look nicer if they swapped places.


  5. I am typically a fan of simplicity. Unfortunately, I do not like the particular shade of yellow! It is too stark and bright to look well on anybody, in my opinion. Nor do I like the ornamentation down the sides of the split in the front, or the placement of the ruffle on the underskirt. The bodice, plain though it is, is well-proportioned, and the puffs are an interesting rear-view treatment.

    7 out of 10

  6. Very pretty, a Dresden figurine dress! I don’t care for that flounce though. It overshadows the pouffy bottom of the petti and I wish it were at the bottom and the pouffs above it. Or it were shorter.
    It’s in such incredible condition and the silk is still so vibrant. It looks to be yellow shot with white, but that may just be the photography. I love it.
    7 because that flounce just bugs me so much!

  7. Buttercup says

    The only thing I like about this dress is the white lace fichu everything else is too much. Too much puff, too much flounce and ruffle and too much of this shade of yellow. It just looks over-designed to me like they didn’t know when to stop.
    4/10 and even that might be too much!

  8. Marjo Wheat says

    I think it is lovely in every way. I especially love the back poofs, but the decoration of the front really fits together. I love the little touches of lace. Beautiful! 10/10

  9. I love this – it reminds me of Millena Canonero’s macaron colored costumes for the courtiers at Versailles in “Marie Antoinette.” I imagine someone strolling the gardens in this, wearing a straw hat, and perhaps carrying a parasol. The lace ensures it’s not solid yellow – quite frankly, I hate yellow and other warm colors, but the overall design and embellishment is feminine and pretty.

  10. I really like this dress! The color is exquisite. You got a love a bright yellow dress. The trim is amazing. And it sets off the otherwise plain dress perfectly. If I could wear yellow and was into 1700 living history, I would love to make this dress. I give this one a 10 out of 10

  11. Izzy says

    For the most part I really like this dress, I think it’s just too much of one solid color for me, and the frilly stuff in the front isn’t enough to break it up.

  12. Lynne says

    This one, I like! I’m sorry, I was one of the ones who didn’t comment or rate on last week’s blue number. I was trying to think of something tactful to say. Not my thing. This one, yes!

    Love the colour, love the way the colour holds it all together, all the frills and puffs and stuff. I could have lived without the front frill. It’s a bit high. I’d have had it at hem level, and had the puffs above it. Or possibly two frills. Just a bit… random.

    9 out of 10

  13. I give this dress a 5 maybe even a 4. I do like the solid fabric and the lace shawl/collar. What I don’t like it that the bustles on either side make it look as though the person has huge hips. The inner front panel is plenty so the added poufs aren’t necessary. The last thing I don’t care for is that weird-looking flap that hangs at the front of the dress; it makes me wonder if there is some male-envy going on. LOL

  14. PalK says

    Mea culpa-super busy last week
    Not a big yellow fan-although this seems to be the shade of yellow I could wear
    Not a big fan of the style-particularly the bustle
    However, a HUGE fan of fabric manipulation for embellishment
    and I think this is one of those dresses that look better in motion on a real person instead of a mannequin

  15. Elaine says

    Overall, I mostly like this. I really like the trim down the sides and at the hem, although I agree with those who don’t much care for the ruffle above the hem. I don’t think the lower trim alone would be enough to carry it off, so it needs something. I don’t know what, but the ruffle isn’t doing it for me. Also, I immediately thought the bodice seems to include a codpiece suspended from the waist. Sorry! The color is nice, although you’d need the right coloring to wear it successfully. The puffs in the back are beautifully done and fit the shape of the dress. 8/10.

  16. AnnaKareninaHerself says

    I wouldn’t have known if this is an English or an Italien dress, but my eyes are quite familiar with this type of dress. It might have it’s specialties here and there, but I don’t see anything unusual about it. However: this yellow in the sunlight?: ultra lovely. Nothing daring or extravagant about it, no risk, no audacity, but…it looks exquisite anyways. I‘d give it at least a 9, but since it looks so familiar to me, I go a bit down with the rating to 8.5/10

  17. Frances Dorrestein says

    I absolutely love this gown and would love to understand how that trim was made. I am very spatially challenged, but would love someone to explain!
    I live in the Netherlands and am wondering if the gemeente museum would allow a look at it.
    I do not at all mind the abundance of trim, but to be honest I am never keen on trim down the middle of center closing gowns of this era. Don’t know why!
    Igive it 8/10

  18. Frances Dorrestein says

    I absolutely love this gown and would love to understand how that trim was made. I am very spatially challenged, but would love someone to explain!
    I live in the Netherlands and am wondering if the gemeente museum would allow a look at it.
    I do not at all mind the abundance of trim, but to be honest I am never keen on trim down the middle of center closing gowns of this era. Don’t know why!
    Igive it 8/10

  19. I love this! Classic Italian Gown – not just the silhouette and deep v-back (fully separate bodice/skirt) but the fact it’s a seamed “quarter back” rather than pleated and probably boned down the centre. (I’ll see if I can find it online and find out…)

    I agree with Vincent about the odd petticoat trim but it does look original and both types of trim were typical for the period and it probably looked a hella lot better when the poofed trim was properly poofy and not flattened as seems to inevitably happen over time from storage etc.


  20. Emma says

    I like this one from the back and not at all from the front. The front feels very over done embellishment wise and I don’t like any of them! The back feels a lot simpler and I like the bustle and the colour. I also really like the contrast between the white and the yellow but I’m guessing the museum added the accessories.


  21. Bep says

    I like the color, the passementerie and the simplicity of thiss dress. For me a 9
    Curious what she wearing for underwear.
    Panier or baskets ?

  22. Emma Louise says

    It’s a lovely happy yellow (though I would look terrible in it!) I like textured dresses in one colour. The flounce gives it the peculiar look of levitation, which is entertaining me if nothing else! The draping at the back is nice, though it’s not my favourite example of the style, the proportions are a litte bit off for me. I also like how it’s been styled with the white fichu and lace. 18th century dresses can look quite stiff on mannequins, but with someone wearing it and the right undergarments, I’m hoping the skirt could have alot more life to it.

  23. Kathy Hanyok says

    I contemplated this gown while in the shower and decided the following:
    The color is glorious, although a little more golden would be kinder.
    The back gathers and poofs are a delicious lemon fluff.
    The crisscross fitchu is charming, although the lace on the sleeves could be more exuberant.
    Not a fan of the large ruffle. I think it would make me look even shorter. Maybe they misjudged the length and had to add to it? I do love the pinking/scallops on the bottom of the ruffle.
    Lastly, also not a fan of the squared off point on the bodice. It just isn’t very graceful. But, all in all, 8/10.

  24. Glenda Jackson says

    Oh I love the dress! I’ve gone from loving ONLY Victorian in the 1990s thru Edwardian and 1940s then to early 1800s and now 1700s. The color is outstanding and I love it all. The stories the clothes could tell!

  25. Peny says

    I think it’s darling. The colour is lovely and the trim is just enough. I especially love the embroidered fichu around the neckline. Is that stitched on or an accessory?

    I always feel a bit weird about the squareness of the hips on gowns from this era though. So 8.5/10 for me.

  26. Elizabeth says

    This dress is delightful. I personally cannot wear yellow well, but I’m convinced this was lovely on the right person, especially with a full set of accessories. I agree with others that the front trim isn’t quite balanced – maybe the flounce should be the lower element? – but a good bustled skirt always makes me happy.


  27. India says

    I love yellow and this is a particularly lovely shade, I also love everything about the dress – except that ugly frill. I can’t see any reason for it except perhaps to cover some damage.
    7 out of 10

  28. Lisa A says

    I love the back–the foof of the back bustles complements the joyful color. I find the overall silhouette so pretty and well-executed, but it bothers me that there is no continuity between the front of the dress and its generally restrained trim, and the exuberant back. It’s almost as if they are two separate dresses, melded through the color and the fichu. But, I still think it’s a lovely dress that surely would have made the wearer feel feminine and happy. 8

  29. emma says

    10/10 I love it! Yellow isn’t normally my colour, but this is lovely!

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