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1903 Antique Edwardian Dinner Dress

Price: £600
Location: Norwich, Norfolk

Also Listed on Etsy & Facebook :)

I am offering this exquisite Antique Dinner Dress from my Personal Collection! Trimmed with steel beads, Flounces of chiffon & Lined in a lovely, metallic silk. De-accessioned from the Metropolitan Museum of art. I understand that the price will be outside of most people's budgets (though the asking price is alot less then I paid for it), therefore I am willing to negotiate on price (within reason) :)

The dress is in between a shade of grey & mauve. Inside the skirt there is a tiny 'pad' - designed to add some oomph to the derriere :P With long billowing chiffon sleeves in a cut-out sleeve style. NOTE: Some of the pictures provided were taken on a *different* mannequin (antique wasp-waisted) WITHOUT the grey backdrop.


Sadly the Edwardian's had quite an affinity for Weighted Silk - the Lady who wore this dress was no exception (though I might add that the silk still has a nice, crisp rustle to it.... So I can see why they liked it! The silk has begun to shatter in several spots, these can be seen in the photographs;

- The silk lining the High Neck 'Band'

- The silk backing the chiffon on the 'chest piece' (the part which the Fur Tassels are attached to)

- Around the Neck area, the shattering is the worst (I did cut away some of the shattering silk shown in the pictures around the shoulder area, as I did intend to patch this area up however decided to leave it - but believe me, you won't miss the area I cut out, it had seen better days!)

- In the train of the skirt

^ Remarkably the skirt is in good condition, with minimal bead loss and a stable lining (the silk shattering is only localised in the one spot photographed)

The Chiffon is *very* delicate - there are no holes - however with heavy handed treatment I can see the chiffon tearing very easily (so be gentle!), I'd say it feels somewhat like "cobwebs". For storage I would recommended laying the bodice out flat without any 'creasing' or folds so as not to stress this delicate fabric. Regarding the pleated chiffon trim on the ends of the sleeves - one side has torn/damaged (the underside which is not visible when displayed).

On the bottom of the skirt, there is again that 'treacherous' chiffon - used as a ruffle trim - on the back of the train this ruffle trim has become torn (about 5 Inches of the trim is torn away), though when displayed will be hardly noticeable.

One of the sleeves has a tiny moth-hole, and there is a tiny (tea?) stain on the skirt - the base fabric which I suspect is wool-silk blend is very sturdy and if you wished to, you could get this stain removed professionally by a conversationalist/ or someone who has experience with Antique textiles :)

The tassels - which I believe are made of fur - are in good condition; still soft and fluffy! But on the bottom of each tassel there was originally a tiny 'passementerie' ball, unfortunately one of these is hanging by a thread (literally!) and 2 or 3 have gone missing.

Regarding the steel beads - there are hundreds of them! & Certainly no shortage of them either on this dress. Though understandably some beads have bound to have fallen off - I can't say how many - but the only area I would be 'concerned' with, is the Bead trim around the sleeves, in which the trim has come 'loose' (though can still be sewn back).


It is easy to be "picky" on the condition of Antique dresses

For a 115 year old dress however - she's not looking too bad! Unless one is planning on wearing this dress on a night on the town :P - you should have no problem appreciating it's beauty. This dress is still sturdy enough to be displayed without any problems. The demure mauve/grey shade is still admirable, and the lovely metallic sheen on the interior lining (although fragile) is also lovely (though not picked up on in the pictures).

The chiffon 'peeking' through the cut-away's in the sleeves is in darn good condition - and is a lot less delicate and 'cobweb' like then the chiffon in the neck area. The waist tape, all the hooks and eyes and boning is still present.


(Your gonna need a wasp-waisted mannequin for this one :P)






I do have more pictures of this dress e.g. Damage areas & display pictures (with the dress mounted on a mannequin) so if You would like any more pictures of specific areas etc. Then please feel free to message me and I'll get back to you as soon as possible :) Thank you for your interest in this item!


I can ship overseas :)

However please message me if you would like a Price Quote/ or you would like to use a specific courier & I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Note: The Dress is rather heavy - so shipping will be on the expensive side. I suspect around £40.

For UK buyers, Shipping is on the house (... included in the price) :P.

NO REFUNDS - Due to the nature of this item (Antique), I will not accept refunds for 'damage' (So please be sure you have thoroughly read the listing & asked as many questions as you wish). All antiques have some degree of damage (they are centuries old after all), and if you are looking for perfection or items which are wearable, then Antique's may not be for you.


Views: 229


Replies to This Discussion

thank you, Chloe Russell, for showing this Edwardian dress and its many intricate details. 

I can see why you fell for it. What it may lack in color more than makes up in detail! wow!

While short of duration the Edwardian period (England:1901-1910, loosely 1890's post Victoria to 1914) packed a design punch which rippled out into many areas of design. Heavily influenced by Alexandra's (King Edward's Danish wife), women's jewelry and clothing followed her (Alix's) model.

It is one of my most favorite periods; away from the 'anything & everything goes of the Victorian era and Victoria's mourning, yet not yet into full embrace of Modernity w/ the deeply linear, geometric & restrained aesthetic of Art Deco (which I also love). In the feminine aspect there was much delicacy, fine intricacy in lace, embellishment, exquisite filigree/plat jewelry and dresses were still to the floor but soon creeping up.

I can so appreciate this time in cultural history.

Does anyone have the book by Nikolas (?) called An Edwardian Album (i think) I picked it up to look at once. It was smallish in size 10" x 6", paperback, had photos and described everyday life in the Edwardian era. Any details appreciated. I've got all noted somewhere, but not a lot of good that does me if I can't find it! 

Thank you for your reply & friend request Pamela :D

I adore the 1880's bustle era & Edwardian period - admittedly the Edwardian is my favourite! All the details on the dress can be a bit of a nightmare when trying to display the dress though :P Your always worried that you might damage something! Do you collect Antique clothing yourself?

I do have another Black Evening dress - that used to have a faux 'off the shoulder' look in a vibrant royal blue velvet, but someone must have left it out in the sun as it has mostly bleached out :( - most have been beautiful back in the day, the Edwardian's had quite the sense of style!



I have not bought anything I couldn't somehow wear, So, I might buy a set of lace cuffs and collar to add to something new. I have many vintage purses, gloves, muff, hats. I have a number of dresses, skirts, suits from the 40's. Also too many vintage jackets & coats. I had a lovely white bias cut wedding gown fr the 20's but have put it away and can't remember where I put it.

Is the last dress shown the black one with sun-bleached midnight blue velvet neck/shoulder detail? Thanks for the close-up! oh, that must have been lovely! From the long shot, I thought that was the dress form. Tell me, is that ostrich (?) feathering wrapped around the shoulder period to the dress or added? Also, the embroidered lace floral atop the ruched velvet is yummy! I once went to a great exhibition at the Phil Museum of Art of designers through the ages. It had incredible couture gowns by Charles F. Worth, Coco Chanel on up to present. And I have been to a museum in the basement of the Fashion Institute of New York. Other than that, PBS puts on excellent period dramas, where I get my jollies and fr books, too. And the DC Big Flea, Chantilly, Virginia usually has a few antique clothing, lace and textile dealers.

Also, the one thing you mention about careful handling of material, especially lace, tulle, chiffon etc. cannot be stressed enough. You can practically breathe on old delicate lace and damage it, as it becomes paper dry w/ age!! So, while it may look perfectly normal, all resiliency is lost with loss of any moisture inherent in original silk or thread. Is there a solution I could soak my old lace with to regain some strength or a solution I could spray on it? Thanks Chloe Russell!

Yup - that's a ostrich feather Boa :) & the far away shot is the same dress, just doesn't pick up the blue. That dress is in really good condition but just so small, I believe the dress may have been worn by a young girl, as a 27 Inch bust is tiny even by Edwardian standards! 

Ohhh care to share any pictures of your vintage collection? (Don't feel forced to though :P) I attached some more pictures of other dresses from my (relatively modest) collection...

Your right about the fragility of Antique materials - Silk is the WORST - A friend once told of when she put an Antique Silk wedding dress up on a mannequin and it literally dissipated within hours in the sunlight, she said you could literally rub the fabric between your fingers & it would "vanish"!! Research and knowing your fabrics really is key to keeping these works of art around for later generations to see :D 

Ahhh getting to see a House of Worth gown would be a dream - owning one would be something else - though I do have some pieces that have cost me a pretty penny - the House of Worth gowns are usually 5K plus, which I really cannot justify..... yet :P

Thank you for your interest in my collection btw, it's always nice to talk to fellow lovers of historic fashion :)

EDIT: Also regarding your Antique Lace conundrum - Sometimes with Antique Velvet I leave it in the bathroom with the shower run hot to "steam" it, which helps the velvet regain it's softness and original texture, I've never tried this with lace however I've heard some people use this technique on modern lace wedding dresses, so perhaps this could help your lace... If you are in Britain then I can suggest some really good conservationalists that could work their magic - the same that work with the V & A museum :) 


Thank you for the tips. I have torn antique lace just from looking at it! lol No, i didn't burn a hole w/ my eyeballs ;-) I poked a finger through just from moving it in my hands. Such delicate old lace is almost impractical to use. The act of sewing it onto something or hand-washing could compromise it. It may be better left placed on velvet and framed or shown in a shadow box.

All three of the white pieces are beautiful! I love that ruffly high collar and bodice trim on the jacket & vest set. Would that have been a day dress walking ensemble worn w/ a slim long skirt w/ maybe a bit of a kick pleat in the back?

What did you think of some of the Dowager Duchess' ensembles on Downton Abbey? (I am assuming you watched. Did the costumer pass muster?) I found her outfits to be particularly fetching. 

btw, I am across the pond. 


Hello Pamela, I grabbed a link from an Antique Restoration site that I buy from; http://restore-products.co.uk/ecommerce/department/cleaning/ 

^ There are different categories of the products, but I'd recommend looking at cleaning products (as even dust can make microscopic cuts into delicate fabric which over time makes larger holes/more fragile) & the Fibre Glass Mesh, for displaying the lace you would have a number of choices; Monofilament Conservation Net, Silk Crepeline (I use it for Edwardian Weighted Silk & I believe may be the best for your lace) - if you did decide to wash the lace (say you wanted to bleach it, so that It looked good as new) then I'd recommend the Conserva mesh which would prevent the lace being further damaged, the act of sewing the lace down to the mesh might seem dubious however in the long run will do wonders. > Not sponsored :P But these are all products I have used personally, so if your ready to take the plunge & make an investment (the Conservation net is quite pricey but really is worth it) then I'd recommend them - they also ship to the US :) (Sorry for the spam!!)

Regarding the 'Over-Jacket' piece - I actually believe they were worn together - I've got some pictures of this :) It's quite a dramatic ensemble! I definitely think there's a bit of an 18th century influence with the waist coat.

I'm yet to identify the fur tassels on the dress that I've got up for sale (the grey one) however this ensemble also has the same fur tassels! I just have no idea what the fur could be?? I've seen dresses with chinchilla fur, Squirell fur etc. so It could really be anything...

Admittedly I haven't seen Downton Abbey - though I've seen a few pictures & noticed that they brought in a few old techniques such as passementerie trim etc. I'd say the costumer did pretty good :) I've always found that the Edwardian fashion's looked really lovely on Older women... much more flattering then modern fashion :P But I'm biased there! 


oh MY.

as I'm short on time right now I will say, this is utterly splendid!!

my god, to put that gorgeous ensemble on would be transformative!

What a glorious complete ensemble to own. I can see how tempting it would be to collect.

Re: the DA costumer- she did when possible, use period textiles and complete dresses, gowns etc, which she might then modify to fit the wearer or alter to strengthen the beaded area or material.

Thank you for the additional info on conservation and maintenance.


Hello Pamela!

Sorry it's taken soo long for me to reply!

No problem! Let me know if you do go ahead and get to work on that lace - it would be interesting to hear the results. 

I'm not too suprised at hearing that they used real period textiles on the show, for Titanic they bought up over a thousand Edwardian Tea Gown's etc. for the Extras to wear - there was one from the film selling on Etsy a while ago for £12,000 :O !! For the film Legends of the Falls, they also used authentic WWI Uniforms and guns etc. - I do wonder how many of the antiques get damaged though...

It's quite a dilemma when you buy something particularly lovely - but is also very old - whether or not you can wear it (yet alone where you can where it - without anyone thinking your nuts :P)? What d'ya think?  I've personally never worn my antiques (I have an affinity for the really fancy/over the top ensembles! Which aren't very wearable!)

Oh, I wasn't expecting a reply so no worries.

And I'm not here every day either.

I love your trivia about costuming of DA and LotF! I'd have loved to have seen those 1000 authentic Edwardian tea gowns!! Can you imagine that job? Scouring the world for wardrobe and buying it? I always thought that would be a great job, working on movies; either scouting out props, set decoration, furniture or working strictly in clothing and accessories for plays, films, TV etc.

I didn't do anything with the lace but will let you know what happens when or if I do.

Re: wearing vintage clothes. It is my opinion you can pull it off a lot easier in younger years. it is a fun, quirky, bold, courageous style statement and can be stunning if accomplished with confidence, panache and joy in the effect you are making. I wore lots of vintage clothes up until I was 30 or so. Now, it's gloves, coats, purses, jewelry, I WISH we wore hats like we used to. 

It depends on where you're going, how in shape you are, if all grooming, hair and accessories work together and most especially if you can psychologically pull it off. After a certain point, I feel we can wind up looking a bit batty, "nuts" - you got it. ;-)

Now wearing a complete period ensemble to a Ball is great for guys and gals of any age. There's a good bit of that happening in the  American Colonies and the Western Gold Rush towns; as we have many historical houses w/ costumed guides, living history houses, communities & towns And often-times teas, dances and balls are held to keep people practiced in their applied skills. It is great fun. A costly hobby but the source of great satisfaction for those doing it.


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