Rate the Dress: 1910s blue, bustling & stripes
If there was a complaint about last week’s Rate the Dress, it was that it was prim, buttoned up, and while extremely fashionable, also extremely safe. This week I’ve picked a dress that is also extremely fashionable, but definitely a bit wacky. What will you make of it?
Last Week: a ca. 1880 wedding dress
It’s always interesting to do wedding dresses as Rate the Dress options. Do you rate them as a fashionable dress of that era, or as a wedding dress. Should a wedding dress be an excuse for extravagance and ridiculousness, or be conventional, safe and modest in its outlook towards fashion? How the ratings on last week’s dress fell depended partly on how you felt on that front – and then on whether you liked the disparate elements of that dress.
The Total: 7.8 out of 10
Not really the score a bride would hope for!
This week: a early-mid teens dress in bold stripes and bold cut
The Goldstein Museum of Design dates this dress to 1915-18, but I think it’s a bit earlier. Stylistically it’s absolutely typical of 1913-14.
The slim skirt is a classic feature of the early teens, and disappears almost overnight at the end of 1914, when the start of WWI made shorter, fuller, easier to walk in skirts more practical. Although the skirt slims down again after 1917, it never returned to the pre-war length.
The unusual skirt trim, with the stripes arranged as a pleated ruche forming a faux tunic, and the skirt picked up in a flattened bustle effect at the back. We’ve seen similar below-the-knee bustling and draping on this ca. 1912 purple dress, this early ‘teens peach number, this pink velvet hobble skirt, this apricot chiffon and satin 1914 evening gown, this sage green 1912 evening gown, and this silver and blue 1914 frock. By the time you get to early 1915, skirts are full.
The deep sleeves, with armscyes that go all the way down to the waist, were also extremely fashionable in 1913-14, although you see similar examples as late as 1917. The designer of this dress certainly wanted to ensure that you noticed the sleeves, making them in boldly striped silk which is perfectly coordinated with the main blue of the dress.
The same silk was used to form the faux tunic, and a quirky little ruffle on the back of the bodice. The bold hues are also a classic feature of the pre-WWI years. While the early Edwardian era revelled in half-tones and pastels, designers like Poiret, and influential touring companies like the Ballet Russes, made bright colours and clashing hues fashionable.
Despite the strong colours, the dress isn’t without some classic Edwardian softness. A collar of delicate lace of embroidered tulle with crenelated edgings fills the V-neck (open necks – a daring new innovation in daywear!) and plays peek-a-boo with the striped frontspiece in touch that is both evocative of 18th c fichu, and wittily modern.
What do you think? Wacky? Wonderful? Weird?
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