Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: lilac pink, 1910s

Evening dress, 1912, England, Jays Ltd. Satin with machine lace, Victoria & Albert Museum T.49-1981

This week’s rate the dress is the promised spring-y dress.  It’s also inspired by the drapery of the last rate-the-dress, AND the colour of Miss Four’s Norland Frock.  Will it be as popular as they were?  Let’s find out!

Last week:  a ca. 1895 dinner dress in shot silk

Oooh, we’re on a winning dress streak!  You were big fans of this 1890s example of sexy power dressing.  The lowest rating was 8, and there was only one of those!

The Total: 9.2 out of 10

A point up from the week before!  Can we keep up the trend?

This week: a draped evening dress of the early 1910s in lilac pink

Like last week’s dress, this week’s offering is an elegant evening ensemble, suitable for a reception or dinner.  It’s also an amazing example of how quickly fashion changed in one generation: from the heavy layers of the 1880s, to a light, open frock which afforded glimpses of the legs up to the calves.

Like last week’s frock, this dress utilises the sensual qualities of draping fabric for visual impact.  The satin is caught up in pleat-gathers on the bodice, forming a bow effect.

The skirt is gathered at the front, with the extra fullness drawn to the back, and draped up under a square train that falls from the bustle effect of the upper back skirt.

Most of the dress is an expanse of smooth satin, but the bodice embraces the Edwardian love of texture, with sleeves formed from a lace overlay over tulle.

What do you think?  Is this 1910s evening dress an elegant example of its era?

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. Theresa Diaz says

    This dress is so dreamy. It’s simple but with such great touches. It’s the sort of dress that makes me love the teens fashion. While the belt color is a bit jarring compared to the dress it doesn’t bother me.


  2. nofixedstars says

    i tend to love this era’s dresses, and this is no exception. it’s funny what a difference colour can make for me; if this dress were done in pink, i might think it twee, but the lavender works for me, especially with the more saturated violet hue of the sash to sharpen it up. i think it a very graceful, and probably very flattering evening frock.

    rating: 10/10

  3. AnnaKareninaHerself says

    It’s alluring and light, a little more relaxed, like one of the sleeves could slip off the shoulder ( …which of course wouldn‘t happen). I also find the draping at the bodice clever. Everything is fine, but for my taste, the color of the sash is just ok-ish. I‘d prefer something softer for the sash, that talks more with the other fabrics. I‘m thinking of something soft and glamorous like a subtle champagne-silver-gold…something in this spectrum. Anyways it’s lovely, so 9/10.

  4. I can’t help but think this dress is suffering from the lack of its accessories. With a hat, purse, and shoes that matched the belt I would enjoy the pops of color, and with jewelry to add interest I wouldn’t mind the plainness of the dress itself so much. But honestly without those there’s nothing to recommend this dress to me; even the structure is boring to my taste. It feels to me like the historical version of wearing sweat pants!


  5. Elisabeth says

    I like the draping of the skirt very much and how long the legs look in it.

    Colours are not my taste, i prefer dark and cold colours, but that’s of cause not the dresses “fault”.

    The sleeves of lace i find a little.. disturbing, to be honest. Yes, it is a contrast of fabrics, but it reminds me of dust and moths and feels really “off” next to the shiny actual dress. (No offense, it’s just what comes to my mind. I apologize if that sounds too harsh.)

    So belt and skirt are 8/10, over the belt 1/10.
    Overall 6/10.

  6. It’s lovely on the mannequin, and I imagine it would be even lovelier in motion. I actually like the color of the belt – I find it grounds the airiness of the dress. The bodice pleating is remarkable and graceful.

    10 of 10

  7. So pretty and dreamy! I love the draping of the skirt and bodice.
    Not a big fan of the colour of the belt with the rest of the dress either, but I’m wondering if maybe the rest of the fabric used to be brighter as well and has faded over time?


  8. It is, indeed, a perfect example of its era, and I’m torn between that and my gut reaction of “but this exact point in the history of fashion is a bit too high-concept for my liking”.
    It’s that reaction where you admire dresses in a fashion show as works of art but the one that really speaks to you is the one you can see yourself wearing – and this isn’t that dress.
    So to balance out my feelings: 9/10

  9. Kathy Hanyok says

    I think this gown is stunning! As always, I’m drawn to the artistry of the pleating, and the silky satin lushness. I think the lace lightens the gown and truly makes it the spring ensemble you promised. 10!

  10. Elizabeth Henry Zenker says

    Elegant and modern (in its time), perfect for demonstrating that feminine and feminism are not mutually exclusive. Votes for Women indeed! 8/10

  11. Elaine says

    I love the pleating on the bodice. Much to my surprise, I also actually like the lace draping for the sleeves. It seems like I should think it is messy, but somehow it works for me. I have no problem with the color of the belt. And then I saw the back. I don’t like at all the fabric bunching at the top of the thighs, and then hanging straight below it. For the front, I was thinking a 9/10. Because of the back, I give it 7/10.

  12. I think it’s perfect. The shaping of it via pleats is lovely but not overworked; the lace is just enough to add a textural contrast without too much froth. The colors are mostly ethereal, with just the deeper color of the belt keeping it from floating off completely. Such an elegant silhouette, too. Exquisite! 10/10

  13. JessieRoo says

    I find this dress pretty but insipid. It has some nice elements, like the skirt draping, silhouette, and the individual fabrics, but there’s nothing that really ties them together or gives it a focal point. I think a narrow trim in a stronger color (I picture black velvet ribbon) along the neckline, sleeves, and maybe somewhere on the skirt, would help a lot in tying it all together. I could see a light bit of beading in a darker, iridescent color also working. As is, it’s fine, but not special. Though, it should be said, a dress that would let the wearer shine instead of stealing the show itself. That may be its best feature.

  14. Anne M says

    I really like this dress from the front. The drapery is well done, and the lace forms a lovely capelet effect. The color of the belt is a bit bold, but would possibly have been balanced with an amethyst necklace. The back, however, is a different story. In particular, the squared-off nature of the train does not work well with the drapery of the rest of the dress.
    Still, a dress that is lovely and looks relatively comfortable to wear.

  15. PepperReed says

    My absolute fave period of dress. I prefer stronger colors, but the soft lilac with the lace over-sleeves and the pop of bright at the waist is a winner. Half point off due to lack of accessories (???) — it feels like something is missing.


  16. Penny says

    This is divine! I love everything about it. It’s one of my favourite periods of dress and this is a great example. But I also feel it’s surprisingly modern. I would honestly be happy to wear this to a formal event now. 10/10

  17. Lyn Swan says

    This is the first time I have commented on a dress in almost two years. First, this is a lovely example of the period. 9/10 for me. As much as I love the silhouette of this dress, I doubt that I could ever wear anything with a hobble design. I am far to awkward and clumsy! Thank you Hannah M. for your comment about viewing dresses as art. This seems to be an appropriate comment to keep in mind. Esthetics change over time, it makes sense to keep this in mind as one observes and evaluates clothing from other periods. One other comment. Color hue and tone vary greatly depending on the device one is using. I have seen many extant examples of clothing at the V and A, that look VERY different when seen in a photograph on line.

  18. Katie says

    Goodness not my colours at all but you could wear something like this tomorrow to a celebration and not be at all out of place. This is just beautiful 10/10

  19. Dandy says

    In my last vote I mentioned good pinks and bad pinks. That sash is the very color I was thinking of as a bad pink. It clashes with other pinks and violets (and most other colors) and steals the spotlight in whatever ensemble it is included in. Just brings the entire dress down by several magnitudes. The interesting shape and draping does a lot, but I can’t in good conscience go above a 4/10.

  20. Elizabeth says

    Stunning! I’d love to see this dress in motion. The draping is gorgeous.


  21. Someone enters a ballroom or lounge at a watering place…near water, at duck, when the outdoors recalls the colors of the dress. Off goes a cocoon coat in vivid fuschia and lavender and deep gold onto one of those rickety little gold-leafed chairs better for holding accessories than sitting on. Her hair is dressed in then popular thick horizontal bun with waves, and bound Greek-style with vivid ribbon, and she wears lightly Eastern bangles at her wrists, and fuschia silk strapped shoes. The effect is columnar and catches the lights and shadows in its folds. On the skirt, a loop for her wrist so that she can hold up the train in a swash of fabric when she dances.

    That’s how I see this dress, the coat and accessories providing, as another commenter noted, the pops of color needed to tie in the sash with the rest of the dress.

    The sleeves would have been less browned…and might recall a butterfly rather than a clothes moth.

    The dress draping is gorgeous and skilled. The only change I might have made would be to edge the sleeves in a narrow band of the belt color, and do the same with the draped fabric at key edges. It would have added outlining to just slightly strengthen the overall cross between Greek and Eastern effect and recall the effect of drawings and prints of the time.

    A dress to truly enjoy wearing and moving in.

    10 of 10

  22. Bowman says

    I think it’s absolutely high-concept and I love that about it! It’s got such a gorgeous shape, and I imagine it would have been so eye-catching in the time, before the browning and fading. For me I wish it were a little more extreme in its shaping, because it’s so close to camp but not quite there.


  23. Emma Louise says

    The more I look at the draping the more I like it. I also really like the floatly lace. It’s hard to judge the colour, I like it on my computer screen but not so much on my phone screen. I would have to see it in person to come to a final conclusion.
    I shall assume the best, however: 10/10

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