Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: 1840’s stripes, rosettes and hem ruffles

Look at me!  Three weeks of Rate the Dress in a row, AND an additional sewing post!  And wait till you see what this weeks non-RTD post is!

Last week’s Rate the Dress was lush and decorative, with elaborate fabric.  This week I’ve opted for a more restrained fabric pattern, although the dress still has some ruffles and fun.

Last week: a 1720s mantua in green

Was it a grand green gown?

The Total: 9.6 out of 10

Grand indeed!  That’s practically a perfect score!

This week: a striped 1840s dress.

This 1840s day dress is made from a wool gauze with a striking large-scale stripe pattern in blue and beige.  The stripes are used to striking effect on the bodice, with the bold pattern skilfully pleated in to the waist, with the dividing line of the colours running down the centre of the dress, but the same blue stripe balanced across the waist.

Day dress of wool gauze with silk pom poms, 1840s, Fashion Museum Bath

Day dress of wool gauze with silk rosettes, 1840s, Fashion Museum Bath

The division of the stripes is continued down the skirt with a line of bias-cut trim echoing the bias stripes of the sleeves.  Bold blue rosettes pick up the blue in the stripe, and a ruffled trim (possibly a later addition) matches the buff and protects the hem.

What do you think?  Is the dress clever, or cartoonish?

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. nofixedstars says

    loving the RTD posts!

    there is nothing especially off-putting about it, but for me, also nothing especially enticing? it’s nicely made, the stripes are used to good effect, particularly with the way they are gathered in at the waist area. i do think i would like it better without the bright blue rosettes down the front. there’s something a little…mismatched…about them with the dress overall. they jar my eye and detract from the otherwise harmonious dress. i think i would rate it higher if they weren’t there!

    as it is…rating: 6/10

  2. Lovely! It’s well made, smart, and simple, with a little bit of fun for liveliness.


  3. I really like it, but the scale of the rosettes seems large compared with the delicacy of the stripes. However it’s fun & a little quirky and I imagine the original owner loved wearing it! 7/10

  4. Am I allowed to join the discussion, as someone who knows precisely jack and squat about historical (or modern) fashion, or sewing of any kind?
    I like the dress itself a lot, but I kind of think it would look better with the rosettes and cuff trim removed and replaced with piping in that shade of blue along the hems. Or would that make it too severe?


  5. Christina Kinsey says

    Pretty dress, the rosettes look a bit stuck on . Ribbon or braid trim in the same colour would look better l think. ( Hi TJ , this is a great place to learn about fashion )
    A solid 8 I think

  6. Severine says

    I want to like it more than I like it. I like the colors, and the dainty stripes, but the rosettes read as pom-poms to me and I can’t force my eyes to see them otherwise.


  7. Dani says

    I love the colours but not the particular stripe pattern. Also, the rosettes are giving pierrot, which is a little disracting for me!
    It seems like a solid 6/10, but I want to like it more.

  8. Peregrine says

    The 1840s are a hit-or-miss for me! I’m not the most enthusiastic about the silhouette + long sleeves, and I’d definitely be more drawn in by a shinier fabric––I’ve never seen wool gauze before, but the matte (?) texture strikes me as a little workmanlike for such a whimsical dress. I do like the blue and the appliques are delightful! But I’d definitely put them somewhere else.

    That’ll be a 3/10 from me

  9. Carol says

    The rosettes do look like pom poms. Just distracting.

  10. Trish Files says

    I love the stripes and silhouette. Not so much the rosettes. 8/10

  11. Mme. Homebody says

    Love the colors, stripes, silhouette, and the buff ruffle. The rosettes, for me, are a little over the top and bring the dress down a bit. They give it a rather lampshade-like effect. I would buy it, grab a pair of embroidery scissors and move those rosettes and the trim on the cuffs to a nice bit of accompanying millinery, maybe something like a chip bonnet. Definitely a “would wear often” dress in my favorite color combination. Thanks for a look at a dress I’ve never seen in all my browsing!


  12. Gah, I commented yesterday and my comment got eaten.
    I’m in a similar boat to others in the reaction except that I’m kind of madly in love with the 1840s, so this one is an 8 from me.

    Last week, on the other hand, was such a 10 that apparently I got stuck admiring all the photos, just as I had when I had first come across that mantua, that I completely forgot to rate! Not that it made a difference, apoarently. 😀 But that mantua is definitely high in the list of “badly want but have absolutely zero justification for”.

    This one: 8/10, actually still kind of want. (The wool gauze, if nothing else.)

  13. Jessie says

    I’m excited that rate the dress is back- I’ve learned so much about fashion history from your blog! I hope things are looking up for you.

    For this dress:
    The way the maker used these stripes is wonderful. The smallness on the top and largeness on the bottom give a sense on movement and interest, but without the necessity of a lot of time consuming or expensive trim. Clever.

    I’m not a fan of the colors. To my eye, they fight with each other instead of enhancing each other. The combination makes me think of old, cheaply printed children’s books – as a child, I remember feeling that the colors really dragged down the fun of some of those books.


  14. I like it. But it seems to me. It is missing something. Not sure what it is. I’ll have to study more. So because of that I’m going to give it a 9/10.

  15. Kathy Hanyok says

    I like the use of the stripes, particularly on the sleeves, and I always love pleating. But I think the colors are dull and the rosette make the gown clowning. 6/10

  16. Anat says

    A pretty everyday dress in pleasant colors (even when one accounts for fabric aging). It may lack a wow factor but as I’m generally a fan of simpler designs, I could see myself wearing something similar if I lived in 1840s. That said, those button-like rosettes are definitely a Choice ™

  17. Lynne says

    I love a woollen dress, and this is a beauty. The wool is fine enough to have those small, tight pleats on the bodice sitting so well, with the blue stripe looking really good.
    Bodice, skirt, and sleeves – wonderful. I’m just not sure about the round things down the front of the skirt.

    9 out of 10

  18. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    There’s something missing from the top, probably a matched cape or pelerine with more of the blue silk trim which would round out the whole rather better and reconcile the rosettes. It needs accessories, but it’s a pretty much good 1840s dress. However it’s a tough decade for a gown to stand out in, so it’s a 7.5 out of 10.

  19. My problem is I don’t like the silhouette of the 1840s, the sloped shoulders bother me, and I just can’t separate that from the excellent construction, and the pretty stripes.

    6/10- because the stripes are well done

  20. Anonymous says

    Looking at this dress, I like the colors and admire the bodice style, having just finished my first 1840s dress! I like the pleating at the front and how it matches the fabric, and creates the great slim waist look. Over all, however, I find the dress relatively plain, and agree with many that those rosettes, while nice in a different setting, seem pretty clownish here at first glance. Nice, but could use some improvements. I give it a 6 out of 10.

  21. Johanna Lindén Nybelius says

    This looks so comfortable, it reminds me mostly of a nice dressing gown to just lounge around in. I forget for a while the corsets and petticoats needed for the silhouette, which isn’t exactly loungewear. The rosettes definitely gives more of a feeling of dressing gown than something I would like to wear in public. They do look like huge pompoms, and had it been a red colour to the dress it would have been perfect for Mrs. Santa Claus.

    With that said, despite the rosettes it is still a solid 8.

    I would get the dress, get rid of the rosettes and then wear it everyday if I had the chance.

  22. Dana Phelps says

    Well, I just found you, Dreamstress! I’m in love with your projects and so glad you are continuing on!! I have never rated a dress before, but I do have an idea about this Pom pon “problem!” I love the stripes but feel like the person who wore it wanted not to be so severe and talked her mom into putting flowers down the front so she didn’t fee like she was wearing a piece of cloth that is not particularly feminine. I think the blue could have been better used somewhere else…on the sleeves?? But not as flowers, as trim or even a short soft fringe in the sleeve seams, if there are, on the top of the arm. I love the shape of the sleeves and think it is the perfect dress for a woman who means business….maybe a school teacher? Make that in my size! I’d wear it to school!! It’s a winner, even with the floral poms! 8

    BTW- Your paper doll collection is beautiful and could make a wonderful museum display at a library or somewhere!! I had the one with Vivian Leigh, and loved it. My mom sometimes drew clothes for them.

    Keep up the good work! Your sewing skills are AMAZING!!

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