It's not very often that I post something that doesn't quite get all the way to it's intended point. I would rather focus on the positive, and so successes are more my thing, than not. That said, I do have to acknowledge that there are things to be seen, and learned from looking at the lesser efforts, the things that miss the target.
This dinner dress is from 1875. It's a great example of something that could have been great, but through some unfortunate design decisions, isn't great at all. What has to be said before parsing out what went wrong is that in terms of construction, there isn't anything to fault this. Whether it was sewn by the lady who wore it, or it was made for her by a professional dressmaker, the skill set on view is just fine.
Let's begin with the textile choices. There are three in use here, two solid color silks, and one silk with velvet stripes. Superficially these are fine choices for each other, it's the placement of each that goes off track. In especial the lighter colored silk that comprises the over skirt is used nowhere else on the gown, so it doesn't feel integrated into the whole design. Also, the weight of the material is such that it doesn't quite balance the visual gravity of the rest of the costume.
Often, in looking at these pieces from our past, it is the things that go wrong that humanize them. They remind us that these were not people from a story, but folk just like us with lives, foibles, and dreams.