The last Rate the Dress was rather frilly and, well…pink. To balance it, this week’s Rate the Dress is significantly more restrained, both in colour and silhouette. However, it still has lots of interesting details for you to consider.
A warning in advance. I have absolutely zero brainpower this week. It’s all been diverted to the final push of preparation for Costume Showcase – the biggest event of the year for the Toi Whakaari Costume Construction course. I’ve solved last minute fitting and construction problems until all I do is come home and gibber in the bath until bedtime.
So please excuse any wild misidentifications of techniques. My brain has been doing marathons and is liable to trip over invisible stairs!
Last week: a pinked, pink, embroidered 1840s dress
Positive comments for last week’s dress, but not brilliant. Quite a few of you felt that the two halves of the dress didn’t quite match: the bodice was lovely, but needed an equally ruffly berthe to match the skirt.
The Total: 8.3 out of 10
Sweet and nice and perfectly acceptable.
This week: a braid trimmed 1870s sports dress.
This 1870s sports dress reflects the growing interest in athletic endeavours for women in the second half of the 19th century.
Sports like tennis, golf, and croquet all became increasingly popular in the later Victorian era. They required simpler, more practical garments: the beginnings of modern sportswear.
Simpler, is, of course, relative. Only very wealthy women could afford dresses designed for such specific activities. A sports dress was thus a status item in the same way a tea gown was. It showed that you had the money to spend on expensive garments that could be worn only as informal attire.
This unbleached linen of this sports dress is appropriately relaxed. The elaborate soutache (or braid) trim, and tiny pleating, which would have been quite a chore for the maid who had to press it, both speak of affluence.
The single triangular pocket is sometimes called a ‘parasol pocket’, and is a point of contention in the historical costuming world. Some historical costumers vehemently object to the name, and insist that the pockets are much too small for parasols. I’m not 100% pro parasol, but I’m not entirely convinced that they aren’t. I’ve worked with a couple of small folding parasols from the 1870s (the Katherine Mansfield House Museum has one), and they would be exactly the right size to fit into these pockets. If I ever find one at a reasonable price I’m going to have to test the idea out…
Pocket conundrums aside, what do you think of this dress? Would an 1870s lady have been perfectly tasteful and attractive in it whilst swinging a mallet or bowling towards the jack?
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.