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Rate the Dress: 1770s recycled silk

Last week’s dress was very formal and monochrome, with extremely geometric, ordered lace.  This week we’re going for much brighter colours, and a print that’s quite bizarre: literally.

Let’s find out what you think about it!

Last Rate the Dress: an 1890s reception gown in ivory with black lace

You know what some of you really, really don’t like?  Bows.  Yeeeeeeeeep.  Those of you who didn’t love this didn’t love it for the bow, or simply because it was generally too dramatic.

But many of you did love it!  And, as for me, well, my favourite part was the bow.

The Total: 8.4 out of 10

Better than the dress before, but not exactly a smash hit.

This week: a 1770s dress from 1708-10 bizarre silk lampas

I love the way fabric got re-used in the 18th century, and this dress is a great example of that re-use: fabric from 1708-10, re-made as a fashionable dress in the 1770s.  It’s one of the earliest 18th century fabrics used again for a full late 18th century garment that I know of.  It shows how much these fabrics were valued, even once the style of the fabric was noticeably out of date.

The fabric is extremely typical of 1708-10: with large Chinese inspired ‘bizarre’ motifs of fountains and rocks, and an on-trend colour scheme of acid yellow and green.  Learn more about bizarre silks here.

The cut of the dress has been updated to be a la modé for the 1770s, with the newly fashionable closed front, with no stomacher.  Other elements, like the fuller sleeves, have been left as they were in an earlier iteration of the dress.

According to the sale catalogue (which has lots of detailed information on the fabric) this dress was worn by Frances Clement (1723-65) as a bride ca. 1750, and was possibly remade and worn again for another wedding (probably her daughter’s) in 1777.  So at least one woman though it was wedding worthy, even 40 years after the fabric was made!

What do you think?  An elegant and striking update, or should this fabric have been left in the past?

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.

* this is even funnier because my students are well aware that I don’t drink at all.


  1. Heather says

    I could never wear those colors, but I actually really love the dress, and the fabric is funky and amazing. I wish we could see more details of the cuffs and such, but it looks to be fancy but not too much . 9/10

  2. S Briley says

    Normally I don’t like this color of green and yellow together, but there’s enough empty space that it is not overwhelming. I appreciate that the print is more geometric then the florals you usually see for the 1770s.


  3. Johanna says

    I didn¨t want to like the colour and fabric, but the more I look it it just gets more and more splendid. It reminds me of the wedding gowns of Livrustkammaren in Sweden, and makes this gown take on a very courtly appearance. It would probably have looked wonderful in candlelight.


  4. Johanna says

    I didn¨t want to like the colour and fabric, but the more I look it it just gets more and more splendid. It reminds me of the wedding gowns of Livrustkammaren in Sweden, and makes this gown take on a very courtly appearance. It would probably have looked wonderful in candlelight.


  5. Kathy Hanyok says

    Obviously, the fabric is the star. The gown itself is very simple. I do like the smocked(?) Cuffs on the sleeves. I imagine it is missing lace cascades somewhere and the under skirt is a substitute. It is a very capable gown, but not superlative. 8/10

  6. I love a good refashioning/upcycling project so this one is a winner for me! I think the dress design is elegant and simple, which allows the lovely fabric to be the focus.


  7. Christina Kinsey says

    The style really works with this bold fabric , the dress doesn’t have a load of trim but let’s the fabric really do the talking
    9.5 from me

  8. Severine says

    My grandmother-in-law had curtains of this exact fabric, only polyester from the 1970’s! A scrap of it still survives somewhere as a throw pillow for the color-but-not-pattern-matching couch (long deceased).

    I really like the simplicity of line and decoration, letting the fabric speak for itself. The re-use aspect is an extra perk.


  9. That is bold. I can’t quite decide if I love it, or if the boldness is off-putting.

    I love the lines, but those colors… those colors.


  10. I always think this type of silhouette/style is very elegant. I like the fabric bold & interesting! The fabric reuse is an extra bonus.

  11. I lovez it. I adore this colour scheme, I LOVE the fabric and I love the way in which it was treasured by this family in spite of fashion trends. I’m pretty sure if any of those brides didn’t want to wear the family “fountain dress” they could have worn a different, simpler one.
    I also adore the background colour that makes all those acidy colours pop.
    I also secretly prefer this sleeve style anyway, I like the bolder shoulder line. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see it with engageates and a fichu.
    I wonder where itnwill end up…

  12. Hayley Wilson says

    This dress is perfection. I’d wear it to my wedding.

    In my dreams only, I’m not getting married and would look hideous in yellow.


    • Christina Kinsey says

      Me too , I think I could carry off the colour and I could even find a non wedding occasion to wear it . Too cold up here in England though right now, maybe we could work out a time share on the dress ?

  13. Lynne says

    10 out of 10.

    Stunning. Perfect. If I could re-make myself to fit it, I’d wear it myself. Wedding worthy indeed!

    The main fabric is wonderful – glorious colours, Vibrant but not too loud, thanks to the silver-grey background colour.

    I see no downsides!

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