This dress has many of the features associated with the dress reform trend of the late 19th century. The trend ran parallel with the Arts and Crafts Movement and advocated a radically new approach to dress in an effort to free women from corsetry.
The clothes were homemade or produced in commercial studios. They used natural and artistic materials and often included hand-embroidered decoration inspired by the countryside and wild or garden flowers. Smocking too, seen here at the waist, on the sleeves and at the neckline, evoked an imaginary rural simplicity. It sometimes featured on dresses designed and sold by the London firm of Liberty & Co, who sold gowns in the Arts and Crafts style.