By the 1890s the adoption of masculine looking wool fabrics into woman’s wear had become well established. Previously mainly limited to tailored riding habits and outerwear, wool began to infiltrate the female wardrobe increasingly from around the mid 1860s as the popularity of outdoor activities created a demand for practical clothing.
Probably made and used as a walking or travelling outfit, this two piece dress is totally unadorned, relying for its considerable impact on its large scale plaid pattern, and upon the figure hugging line that has been achieved, as can be seen, by using the fabric on the cross grain which facilitated moulding it to the required shape. Interior padding around and beneath the armhole gives definition to the bodice. The high collar is a separate piece to be inserted under the shallow V neck of the bodice. The lining of the skirt, attached at the waist only, has a hem of pleated wool that might be glimpsed attractively as the wearer walked.