ALRIGHT LET’S GO. Like three of you are actually going to read this monster of an essay, but fuck I’m going all out.
Column 1: West End/UK
Column 2: US/Broadway/Vegas
Column 3: World Tour/South Korean/Aussie
Recent UK ones have had two layers of lace/embroidered fabric along the neckline (there’s also an older u/s gown with one layer of ruffle, which was chiffon trimmed in lace), gathered and stitched straight into the neckline and covered with bias.
Unless it’s an understudy costume, the belt is usually decorated with a large beaded appliqué. It also actually ties closed, which is important to note becaaaaaaaause…
The US version does not. It’s a mock bow and it closes via magnetic two magnetic snaps on the end and one more small snap half way down the skirt to keep it from flapping open too much when she moves. It’s a plainer belt made of stiff fabric covered in white satin.
The neck ruffles are made out of the same burnout satin as the rest of the ruffles. It’s actually sewn in a zig zag pattern to achieve that waterfall look. It’s edged all around in a smaller lace trim and bound with bias.
WT ones also have two layers of ruffle along the neckline, gathered and stitch straight into the neckline, the top layer is lace and the underlayer looks like burnout satin trimmed in lace. The neckline piping on the edges and the belt is actually trimmed with little pink and green flowers along the outer edge. It’s also tied closed. One really interesting thing is the ‘patching’ over where the darts/tucks usually are, both in the front and back. I think these are intentional (as opposed to a really clever way of hiding repairs) because they’re present on more than one Dressing Gown, which is just another element unique to the WT Dressing Gown.
To sum this part up really quickly, the UK and WT ones have had much more variety as to how the ruffles are done than the US ones (which has maintained a lot of consistency in recent years), so what I’m pointing out is not necessarily going to be the case for every gown you see.
UK ones are usually pretty ornate, with a diamond shaped design going on, it does wonders for shaping the waist.
US and WT ones are actually the exact same design, which blew my mind considering how different they are in every other aspect (and how how different all the other belt designs tend to look). Four pieces, one larger arch and one lower arch, the train of the skirt flowers out from the center. Much more effective aesthetically if you look at the US one, since the gathers are centered there rather than spread around the whole back of the garment.
The major difference between the two is just less than half an inch in size and of course the floral trim on the edges.
UK ones are two layers, and use the same material as the neck ruffles. Shorter in the front than in the back (which is important to note because some productions do NOT do this and it looks awful). I’m uncertain of exactly where on the arm the sleeve is supposed to hit since I’ve seen it anywhere from above the elbow to several inches below it. So it could either be a case of inherited gowns OR just a shift in aesthetic choice, which happens sporadically and without reason all the time.
US ones are the most complicated ones, with the bottommost layer being lace (a VERY expensive chantilly has been favored recently), then a burn out satin edged with lace, then a shorter scalloped lace on top, tied with a ribbon in the center. These various layers of lace give US engageantes their particularly 'fluffy’ look. Fun fact: The white ribbon was at one point pink, which they eventually did away with.
WT ones are once again the odd ones out with the sleeve actually coming gown over the engageante portion and adorned with a large bow in the front. One layer of lace.
It varies. A LOT. So much. For all of them. A lot of it is pretty much just dependent on availability when they’re making a new one. I’ve seen older UK ones using a paisley silk for the bodice and I’ve seen newer ones use that same silk, but in between there have been floral print silks used for the bodices. What stays consistent is that the skirt and bodice fabric are always different. The lace changes just as much.
On the other hand, the US has stuck pretty resolutely with a different paisley silk (a GORGEOUS one at that) for almost a decade now. The bodice and skirt are always made of the same material. The lace on the edge of the ruffles changes so much… so so so much, just… so much. I could make an entire photoset just dedicated to different trims that have been used.
Fuck me I probably will.
WT gowns have used what looks like a more opaque burnout satin with a scrollwork pattern for the most part, but the skirt has been a lot of different kinds of silk, and this pic is just a small sample:
UK gowns tend to drape a bit straighter on the wearer, if I had to think of a way to describe how it looks on a whole. US gowns are constructed to flatter the curves of the wearer when fit properly (hence my rant about new gowns the other day). WT gowns are… the worst in the fit department, even when properly tailored, they have never been particularly flattering to the wearer and tend to lumpy and shapeless, the wider sleeve doesn’t help either.
Okay… I think that about sums it up. That was fun. And it only took about two hours.