Quite a number of commentators of last week’s dress felt that it was the perfect garment for an evil queen – or perhaps a particularly splendid and imposing fairy godmother. This week I’ve picked a pink silk frock for her victim/godchild (or perhaps this is a Discworld-esque Witches Abroad situation, where the ingenue is both?).
It’s pink, it’s frilly, it’s got a big skirt. Is it the perfect dress for feeling like a pretty pretty princess, ca. 1845, in?
Last week: a historically inspired 1890s reception gown
My goal with Rate the Dress is always to be interesting and informative – and I definitely succeeded with at least one of those last week! If there’s one thing last week’s dress was not, it was boring. Not every dress can inspired “Oh. Oh dear. No.” as one comment, and “Oh my word, YES.” as the very next one.
The Total: 8.7 out of 10
A phenomenally good rating for a dress that rated only 1 with at least one rater! The ratings might have been all over the place, but the wearer of last week’s can at least be sure that she was memorable!
This week: an pinked, pink, embroidered 1840s dress
This 1840s dress is made up in vivid carnation pink silk. This bright hue was achievable with plant based dyes, and was fashionable from at least as far back as the Middle Ages. Carnations (members of the dianthus family, also known as pinks) are actually where the colour gets its name: it’s first used as a colour name in the early 17th century.
The dress also features decorations based on another form of ‘pink’. Zig-zagged and scalloped cutwork is called pinking. It combines a Medieval word meaning to punch or prick, with ‘pink’: just like the frilled petals of the dianthus family which also named the colour. These days we use the word in this form in ‘pinking shears’.
The elaborately cutwork edges of the embroidered flounces of this dress were almost certainly inspired by ‘pinked’ 18th century trimmings. Late 1840s historicism may be more subtle than its late Victorian counterpart, but it influenced fashion all the same!
The frills on these dress could be left raw, or might have been finished with satin-stitch edging.
The whole dress is lavishly decorated with satin stitch flowers. They wind around the waist, frame the top of the upper flounce, and are scattered along both flounces. I’d love to see the back side of the embroidery. Is it hand done, or does it take advantage of new advances in embroidery machines? 1920s dresses certainly feature similar embroidery done by machine, but I’m not sure if it was possible this early.
I’d also like to see the dress displayed on a slightly taller mannequin. 1840s evening dresses weren’t often trained, and this one should sit just off the floor, with a delicate pair of flat-toed slippers peeping out from under the hem.
Although it’s always hard to tell, the proportions of this dress suggest a rather tall wearer. It makes me think of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was 5’8″ or 5’9″, and only a few years to0 young to have worn this.
What do you think? Is this pink frock perfect for a young heroine? Pretty and youthful without being too sweet and fussy? Or does she need a knight in shining sartorial armour to sweep in and rescue her from a dress disaster?
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.