Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Court-worthy gold

Evening dress, 1807 - 1810, crêpe georgette, sequins, metal, whalebone; cloth of gold with embroidery, Object Number 4477, donation 1924, centraalmuseum.nl

This week’s rate the dress was meant to be a Christmas themed Rate the Dress, and then a New Years themed Rate the Dress…and those didn’t happen.  Instead I took a Rate the Dress holiday.  So here’s a belated holiday themed Rate the Dress!

Last month (eep!): a ca. 1890 walking dress in corded wool

The ratings for the walking dress were pretty consistent.  You just didn’t like it that much.  The bodice decorations did not appeal, and you really weren’t on-board with the  long-front, short-back bodice hem.  The best comment it got was ‘stunning but slightly off’.

The Total: 6.7 out of 10

Well, I said last time I wasn’t purposefully picking things I thought people would love, and you definitely didn’t love that pick.

This week: a 1807-10 evening dress/court gown bedazzled with gold

This early 19th century evening dress is made of extremely delicate silk, embroidered with gold sequins and metal thread.  It would have been an extraordinarily expensive garment in its day.

The train indicates that it was more likely to have been worn for receptions or court events, rather than balls or dancing.

The fabric is also extremely delicate: even when it was new the expensive sequins would have been damaged and the silk georgette would have torn if it was stepped on.

The fabric of this dress has darkened with age, and some of the metal embroidery has tarnished.  The dress has also had significant conservation work.  Look closely, and you can see the silk tulle that has been sewn over the metal embroidery to stabilise it.

When you rate the dress, try to imagine it as it was when it was new: bright and shiny, the sequins standing out against a bright ground, the colours closest to the first image.

With that in mind, how would you rate it?

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.

37 Comments

  1. Heather M says

    I’ve died and gone to heaven. Can you see that in the candlelight? I’d love to see how the owner did her hair and accessorized and everything.
    10/10 can’t say it enough.

    • Lynne says

      I’m with you, Heather! Died and gone to romantic candle-lit heaven!
      10/10

  2. Marjo Wheat says

    A sweet and lovely dress! Amazing fabric and a beautifully simple design to further enhance it. I love the back with the bow, and the puff sleeves add an extra bit of femininity. An amazing dress! 10/10.

  3. Absolutely beautiful! As Heather M says, it would have been so stunning by candlelight!
    10/10

  4. Sarah Rees-Campion says

    Very ‘Bridgerton’ – love it
    10 definitely

  5. Sue Cottle says

    Love it. The delicate criss-crossing of the lines of sequins compliment the vertical A line of the dress. The wearer would have to have been very careful dragging the train around.
    10/10

  6. Kathy Hanyok says

    I hadn’t thought sequins were a thing then. There is hope for my stash! I love the crisscross pattern on the skirts and wish I could have seen the embroidery in it’s glory. I guess we’ll all be in Heaven together. 10/10

  7. nofixedstars says

    it’s pretty enough. the floral work at the hem is nice it would have glimmered and twinkled in candlelight, and it is an effective use of luxury materials without being ostentatious. yet somehow it…well…bores me. understated, or underwhelming, i cannot quite decide.

    rating: 5/10

  8. Izzy says

    I’m not a fan of sequins or regency styles, so this dress is at a disadvantage with me. The bow at the back is fun though, and the overall effect would be beautiful. 5/10

  9. Even in its current state it’s a stunner, but in its original state it would have been glorious.
    10 of 10

  10. Beth Carter says

    This would have been very effective on a young lady looking to catch the eye of her own Mr Darcy.

    Because I am put off by puffed sleeves, I give it:
    9 out 10

  11. Krista says

    10. It must have been magical under candlelight, as others have noted.

  12. Penny says

    This is beautiful now and would have been even more stunning in it’s day. Do we know what colour the under dress was originally? I know pink, purple and yellow often fade to brown, so it may have had more colour when new.

    It’s definitely designed to impress and would have been stunning by candlelight. Still, I feel like I’ve seen prettier regency gowns. Maybe it’s just too much gold for my personal taste. 9/10

  13. Lylassandra says

    *wolf whistles, respectfully, at the dress* I’m not usually a fan of Regency, but this is stunning! I love the diamonds, love the ethereal lightness of the fabric, love the trim.

    10/10

  14. Hearthrose says

    Absolutely a 10/10. I can imagine this in a candlelit room among all the colors, as the sparkling swan-necked beauty moves through the crowd.

  15. Emma Louise says

    I love the sequin placement & agree with other reviwers that it would look beautiful in candlelight. & the bow is cute. I think the little motifs? – I don’t know what to call them – sewn into the diamonds give the overall pattern some subtle depth and interest.
    10/10

    Can I ask if you know anything about the late Georgian high waisted hooped skirt court dresses? I’ve seen some fashion plates, like this 1807 one: https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/costumehist/id/448/
    I’m really curious about them but my search for information hasn’t turned up anything. They’re just really odd looking! & not at all like this elegant court dress

  16. AnnaKareninaHerself says

    No doubt about the overall beauty of the dress. Trying hard to spot a flaw I guess there isn’t anything else to criticize than the back of the sash. From a 21st century point of view one could associate the kind of bow one put on Christmas present.But…hold on… I think it looks ok, I can overlook it…just saying. In the early 18th century they didn’t wrap the Christmas present like this, so this“ flaw“ was probably no factor at all when it was worn. Yet it gives me a welcome popularity to redesign:
    The sash as a whole I like. I would love to know what jewelry set was worn with it, because it most have been a joy to pick the perfect jewelry for it. They had such gorgeous parures in this era! So I guess i‘m getting very 21st century territory if I imagine a kind necklace in this suite that’s simple at the front and has some beautiful display of embellishment at the back Bringen the attention to the back of the neck. But if I go with this vision I’d probably just use a brooch from the same parure to close and fix the sash at the back. At the same time I’d let the sash fall further down the train.
    The thing I don’t know is: would this even matter at all in the case of a court dress? Or was there some kind of extra court train worn on top of this, so one wouldn’t see the back of the gown anyways.
    In any case, I love it: 9.5

  17. Mme. Homebody says

    Oh, beautiful! Will you LOOK at her GOWN (whispered behind my hand in the chaperone’s corner). I can just imagine the grand entrance one could make. It is of course for a younger person than I, but I can imagine it with a bit more sleeve and something gold and quite understated in one’s hair.

    That is a fairy tale of a dress. Wildly impractical, and as a clumsy bridesmaid who has indeed stepped on the train of a bride’s gown during the reception, very fragile. But if you could afford the fabric, the trim and the dressmaker, you could afford a couple of servants and/or engage your bevy of hopeful swains to follow you around creating a living barrier to clumsy feet while the obligatory companion/chaperone handles the train in dangerous areas.

    Gentle conversation in the presence of Royalty while the candlelight glints and shimmers off this dress… amazing in any time period. And as another poster said, kudos for sequins in a tasteful and pleasing arrangement. 10/10 with a slight touch of envy and genuine sigh of admiration.

    10/10

  18. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Oh my. It’s simultaneously delicate, refined, classical and LOADED WITH BLING! The designer was great.

    With of course, milady’s gold and topaz parure for jewels.

    10

  19. Martina says

    So beautiful, imagine being lucky enough to wear it. 10/10

  20. Julia says

    It’s kind of meh for me. However I really like this dress in that it helps me see a little more what metal embroidery looked like when it was newer and still shiny. The sequins are still bright and you can imagine the embroidery being bright and shiny too.

    6/10

  21. Mariana says

    Wow, wow wow wow!! Despite the clear extravagance of the materials, and no shortage of them, the designer maintained a refinement of decoration that keeps this gown squarely in stunning elegance. No vulgar over-trimming here! Simply stunning. This gown transports me to a magical evening of seeing and being seen.
    10/10

  22. Cirina says

    I think it’s very nice, even if I generally don’t like geometric motiffs. But it lacks the “ooh” aspect for me.
    9/10

  23. Anne M says

    Elegantly ostentatious! Definitely a presentation dress. As a previous commenter mentioned, the motifs added to the diamond shapes make the effect softer, less rigidly geometric than a plain grid would be. The sash and neck trim are lovely, and a nice contrast to the gold. I think it looks better as presented here than with the shoulder ruffles shown in some of the earlier pictures at the linked site.
    10/10

  24. Nanny Norfolk says

    Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the time and to have heard the comments.
    10/10

  25. Sheryl says

    Ooooohh! Oh, my!
    10
    10
    10
    10
    How many 10s can I give it?
    All the 10s!

  26. Well, I own my mother’s fragile gold silk beaded ballgown from 1959, so I can never pass up a gold dress. 10

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