White muslin, a lightweight slightly translucent fabric, was a popular choice in the summer wardrobes of fashionable women at this time, frequently printed in small botanical designs by engraved cylinders, a speciality of the Scottish cotton industry. This day dress has broadly spaced vertical bands of lilies of the valley that are authentic in form, if not in colour, and were probably sourced from a pattern book or botanical work. Their appeal lay in the contemporary interest not only in the natural world, but also in the symbolism of flowers – the lily of the valley representing many attributes in both the secular and religious worlds, including good luck and happiness.
The dress comprises a bodice and a double layered skirt. The underskirt is of a triangular silhouette that evolved during the later years of the 1860s away from the earlier full skirts supported by crin cages; the apron-like overskirt is gathered in to its back seam with flounces to form a proto-bustle. The characteristic of these printed muslin dresses was a simple charm, devoid of ornate trimming; consequently, the decoration of this example is limited to flounces made from the same fabric as the body of the dress.