Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: summery chiné silks 1906-9

Dress, 1900-1909 (1906-9), warp printed silk, 'Landum Minneapolis', Goldstein Museum of Design, 006.043.003

This week’s Rate the Dress is a little delayed because I was busy with all the exciting stuff for the Persis Corset launch.

Last week: an 1840’s dress with stripes and rosettes

Your ratings the dress from ranged from generally favourable but not wildly enthusiastic, to decidedly meh.  As for the rosettes though?  Everyone was pretty firmly in agreement that they had to go!

Daniel did point out that if the dress was paired with a pelerine with matching rosettes it would look much more balanced, which is absolutely true.

The Total: 7 out of 10

Just scraping in at a 7 (it was 6.95, but I round up).

This week: a 1906-9 formal day dress in warp printed silk

To celebrate the launch of the Persis Corset, this week’s Rate the Dress is something that might have been worn over a corset just like the Persis:

The pale colours and floral pattern of this formal day dress suggest it was a spring or summer gown – although hopefully not for a very hot day!

Warp printed silks were very fashionable in the late Victorian era and first two decades of the 20th century.  Their soft, blurred patterning worked well with the extremely frilly, feminine aesthetic, and the pattern gave a nod back to 18th century fashion, which was used as a point of inspiration for Edwardian fashion.  They were also known as chiné silks, or chiné a la branche.  I’ve blogged about this type of fabric here.

If you look closely at the fabric of this dress you can see that it has both a floral chiné pattern, and a brocaded pattern, creating a double layer of texture and colour.

The layering of textures is a classic Edwardian touch.  Look closely at the detail photo above and you can see that the edge of the berthe-inspired bodice pleating is finished with two rows of flat piping: one in eu de nil, one in pale coral.  This same detailing is repeated on the centre front of the bodice pleating.

Those same colours come up again in the rosettes that decorate the front and back of the bodice.

This dress belonged to Martha F, Harris Hynes (1882-1946), the grandmother of the donor: Julia Wallace.  The museum dates the dress to 1900-1909, but the wide shoulder berthe effect and sleeve shape of this dress were most fashionable in 1907-8.  I feel comfortable narrowing the dating to 1906-9.  Martha was 24-28 when she wore this gown: young, but likely married, not a debutante.

What do you think?  Just the thing for a new wife to create an impression of both youth and responsibility at the social events of the summer in?

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. There is nothing that I don’t like about this dress! Is my favorite time in clothing history. A combination of my favorite colors. It looks nice and cool for the summer. The only thing that I would change about it is to make it slightly larger and shorter for an older end of middle-aged grandmotherly shaped women with green dark hair. Other than that it is absolutely perfect. I would give it more than a 10 out of 10 if I could! I love this dress!

  2. Lynne says

    10 out of 10 from me, too!

    What a pretty dress! Lovely colours, beautiful fabric, great detailing. The fabric would indeed be hard to find, but one of the lovely laces (the one with the dagged edge) is very like the one The Tudor Tailor sells.

  3. Jessie says

    Very pretty! I feel like the top half is a little out of proportion relative to the bottom half. It just seems a bit voluminous compared to the skirt?

    The details are lovely and impressive. On the other hand, it does look quite warm to wear on a warm day, and I guess it was meant to be worn on warm days.


    • Christina Kinsey says

      I agree about the top being a bit voluminous, otherwise it’s lovely .The detail.of the double piping is lovely and the fabric works with the lace too
      I give it a 9

  4. Carol says

    Absolutely wonderful! From fabrics to design I would not change a thing. 10/10

  5. Nicole Lee says

    Although this era is not one of my favourites, this dress is pretty special. I do love the fabric and the piping trims and lace. The bunch of ribbons at the waist is a little cumbersome but it fits with the overall design. It is very feminine and the tulle feature on the sleeves fits perfectly, lifting the overall effect.
    I think it is an 8/10.
    Thanks for posting.

  6. Goodness me, no. Something about the bathrobe-y pelerine-type drape, the pastels on a cream background, and the general frilliness and frou-frouiness scream of a horrible hybrid between pediatric scrubs, a Kleenex box cover, and a grandmotherly dressing gown.

    The fabric is very beautiful; I only wish it had been used for something with nicer proportions and less fuss.


  7. Stephanie says

    So sweet! Love the twisty bunches of ribbon.


  8. Trish Files says

    My first thought is that this would be a perfect costume for a ghost in Secret Garden. It’s lovely, delicate but also over-elaborate.

  9. The fabric and lace are both lovely but almost too sweetly frothy, an impression not helped by the belt rosettes. And the shoulders look like they took a wrong turn from an 18th-century kataginu, which throws the entire thing off balance.
    6/10: nice, but not much else to say.

  10. I liked it quite a bit, thinking “well here’s one where the Edwardian droopiness I’m really not fond of kind of works.” And then I saw the frontal view and UGH, NO. Those shoulders completely ruin the effect!
    This dress is pretty demonstrably designed to be worn by an Edwardian model sinously presenting herself from half-profile. 😀

  11. Theresa Diaz says

    This dress is gorgeous! It hits all the romantic spots without being too sweet. I love the fabric. 10/10

  12. Hayley Wilson says

    Oh what sumptuous fabric! Well used by the seamstress to show it off. The sleeves are my favorite part, and while the shoulders are bold they’re not too distracting from the general marvellousness of the whole dress.

  13. Anat says

    Absolutely stunning dress, I have an inkling it would be terribly impractical for about anything that isn’t sitting in chaise longue and looking beautiful, or maybe taking the tea. Even taking a leisurely stroll through a garden. If the hemline would be just a little bit shorter, so one could take a stroll in it, it would be a perfect dress.

  14. Daniel Milford-Cottam says

    I love this, it’s just such a delicious confection. I love colourful prints on a solid ground, I love chiné silks, I love the colours and the summeriness and the freshness and the sweetness. It just really evokes light and fragrance and ease (even though it was probably not a dress to be truly at ease in) and romance without being cloying or cliché about it. 10/10

  15. Anonymous says

    All the clever techniques are hard to spot, but thrill the costumer once spotted! The overall impression does remind me a little of curtains, but it’s frothy and very summery and pretty. I love all the different fabrics and trimmings. I’ve always loved that Edwardian look of the wide shoulders and slim waist, and it’s a style I’d really like to try making. It’s not my dream dress, but I still love it.

    9.5 out of 10

  16. Johanna Lindén Nybelius says

    First thing I thought when I saw it was “grandma’s old bedspread”, and I can’t shake off that feeling. I can appreciate the craftmanship and work behind the dress, but it’s simply too much of everything for me. Too fuzzy, too many details, too many layers. This is not a favorite period for me, and the visual overload is a big reason for that.


  17. Mme. Homebody says

    Very beautiful lines and lace, exquisite yet summery pattern, overall beautiful. I personally don’t feel the rosettes front and back add much; move them to a matching hat or parasol, please. Would absolutely wear this dress for a summer stroll in the gardens with someone very special, with a band playing in the distance and just a bit of a breeze.


  18. Severine says

    It feels dainty, even though it’s clear that there’s a lot of dress there. Tea in the garden with that train might not be practical, but it would look fantastic.


  19. Tsu Dho Nimh says


    So floofy and feminine.
    The shoulders are a bit broad, or the petticoats need more oomph, but the colors, print and overall impression are so on target for that time.

    I can certainly see myself at a fashionable indoor tea (would hate to drag that skirt around the gardens) or afternoon theatre.

  20. I absolutely love the fabric! It’s stunning. The lace and other details are beautiful too. However, I don’t love the silhouette of the top. I think I would like it better if it was narrower and didn’t have so much fullness up to the shoulders. Nevertheless, it’s still gorgeous so I rate it


  21. JessieRoo says

    So pretty! I agree with those that say the silhouette is a bit too top heavy, but otherwise this is a lovely, summery dress of it’s time and it has a nice balance of frothy and crisp details. I especially like the double contracting piping and pompoms/rosettes.


  22. Kathleen says

    beautiful–thank you for sharing and drawing our attention to the details

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