This dress would have been worn for fashionable day wear. It has a fitted bodice, with a pointed waist, and a frilled collar and cuffs trimmed with gauze and a machine-embroidered border. The leg-of-mutton sleeves are long, full, gathered at the shoulders and gauged at the insides of the elbows.
The marked, horizontal emphasis at the shoulder line meant that it was often difficult to wear fitted coats and jackets out of doors. The short, circular cape therefore came into its own for both day and evening wear.
The growth of the sleeve was balanced by an increase in the size of the skirt. In about 1892, flared skirts were introduced. They grew to their widest extent in about 1895, along with the sleeve, and had names such as 'the bell', 'the fan' and 'the umbrella skirt'.
The low collar is an unusual feature, more common towards the end of the 1890s than at the beginning. Since the dress has been let out, suggesting a longer period of use, it may be a later alteration.