Dress of the Week – Robe à l’Anglaise

Robe à l’Anglaise, French, c1785-7. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

I love this dress so much – so much so in fact that heroines in both Blood Sisters and Before the Storm have worn it or at least something very similar.

As opposed to its sartorial rival, the robe à la Française which had inherited the flowing lines and back drapery of the earlier sacque gown, the eighteenth century robe à l’Anglaise was, to my eyes, rather more elegant with a fitted back to the bodice and much less drapery going on.

Robe à l’Anglaise, French, c1785-7. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

I think this example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is perhaps one of the most charming examples still extant, with pretty pale pink stripes and some really adorable ruffles on the skirt. As demonstrated here, this dress would have been worn with a fine lawn or muslin fichu, probably draped around the shoulders and then tied low at the base of the spine, which I think was the most becoming way of wearing a fichu.

Robe à l’Anglaise, French, c1785-7. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

I’m massively envious of people like The Dreamstress and Moretta Designs, who can make dresses like this. One day when I am very, very, very rich I’m going to have a gown just like this one made for me and wear it ALL THE TIME.

A dress like this was just made for strolling around the gardens of the Palais Royal but sadly I don’t think I’m going to strike it rich in time to get one before we (hopefully) go to Paris for a week later this year. What a pity.

Robe à l’Anglaise, French, c1785-7. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is now £2.02 from Amazon UK and $2.99 from Amazon US.

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11 thoughts on “Dress of the Week – Robe à l’Anglaise

  • natalia

    I love this dress, but I’d have to disagree with you, I actually prefer robe à la Française myself. But, I also prefer your blog than any else. Have a nice day…..

  • telynor

    Lovely! You find the most beautiful topics to post about in your blogs. You would have loved the exhibit that the Met had about ten or so years ago, that took the theme of Dangerous Liaisons, and had it staged in their decorative arts galleries, with period clothing, accessories and furnishings. If you can find it, the exhibition catalog is really quite beautiful.

  • Cassidy

    This is actually one of the dresses I would love to pattern, once I publish at least one pattern book and become legitimate. So maybe someday you could own an exact replica, hm?

  • Abigail

    I love this dress, and the fabric…so pretty! I made a simliar one for MCM comicon, not as nice (the fabric was cheap n’cheerful) but I’d love to make another, proper version!

  • janice

    what is under the skirt to make it puff our? you have gotten my interest. it is not a complicated dress by the looks of it. if you asked a seamstress, what would she charge you? i think it would depend on the price of the fabric. with modern machines, the gathers are done more quickly. a cute cotton fabric can be relatively inexpensive. i would suggest a polished cotton. of course, this doesn’t seem to have any breasts.

  • Sapphicscientist

    Great post. Lovely dress. A black and white or red and white striped dress of the French Revolutionary period (up to the Reign of Terror) would be my ideal dress. Thanks for the links to the fabulous historic dress makers. Ahh we can dream

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