I’m having computer issue, which are a most inconvenient thing to happen during a strict lockdown (first world problems, I know!). So I’m stuck doing a lot of work from a very old, slow laptop…but that comes with a perk. I’m finding a forgotten cache of Rate the Dress possibilities. Such fun! My one problem is making sure I don’t pick one that I’ve already run before.
I’m pretty sure this tiered confection is new to Rate the Dress. It’s certainly novel for its era: embracing all the latest trends of its era, and venturing out in to a bit of quirkiness all of its own. What will you make of it?
Last week: an 1840s day dress in printed silk
You all agreed that the fabric for last week’s dress was absolutely gorgeous. Opinions on the rest of the dress elements were more mixed. Some of you loved the lace, some of you felt it didn’t match the rest of the dress. There was also a lot of criticism of the shoulder slope, which seems a little unfair: 1840s dresses will always have slopey shoulders, and I did ask you to rate the garment as an example of an 1840s dress!
The Total: 8.5 out of 10
Down a smidge on the week before.
This week: a tiered and feathered New Zealand wedding dress from 1920
This layered, ruffled, feathered, embroidered, appliqued and lace trimmed wedding dress was worn by a New Zealand bride, 26 year old Tui McKinnon, to her June 1920 wedding. Sixty-four years later she donated her beautifully preserved wedding dress to the national museum.
The dress was made by the Dunedin department store Drapery Supply Association. In addition to ready-made garments, the store made custom items, like this dress, which bears their ‘Drapery Supply Association / Costumiers / Dunedin’ label
(How happy does this make me, as a Costume Construction teacher training a new generation of costumiers? Very!)
As this was a custom piece, Tui probably had a lot of say in its design. It’s a fascinating mix of Edwardian detailing, texture and layering, with the sweetness we so often see in early ’20s dress, and a willingness to experiment with materials and silhouette that characterised more avant garde ‘teens and ’20s fashion.
One very interesting feature to point out is the raised waistline. The fashionable waist level in the late 1910s was all over the place: at the natural waist, dropped, very dropped, and raised. There was even was a brief return of the fashion for empire waistlines in the early 20s, as this dress demonstrates.
It’s quite a distinctive dress, and you may be wondering what it looked like on. We don’t have to imagine what Tui looked like in her dress: there’s a photo! And here’s a couture version of a similarly be-ruffled dress from the 1919 film ‘ A Sporting Chance’. You might find it interesting to know that Anna is playing Ethel’s stepmother – the ruffled dress is a perfectly appropriate choice for an older woman.
Getting back to Tui’s wedding dress, what do you think? Is this a fun and fabulous example of a once-in-a-lifetime dress? Or should this tiered and feathered dress be tarred and feathered?
(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. I did manage to hold off on naming the whole post ‘Tiered and Feathered’ though!
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.