This unassuming one piece day dress is made of white cotton printed with a simple design of small purple flowers on trailing stems on a ground of lighter mauve jagged-edged vertical stripes. Untrimmed, the characteristic contemporary line can be seen clearly; the long fitted bodice plunges to a deep point at the centre front of the waist, with a single bone running down from chest level to keep it rigid, and the full gathered skirt is held into a dome shape by a number of petticoats. Only the bias cut sleeves, set into a very low shoulder line, relieve the overall plainness of the garment with horizontal tucks above the elbows and soft gathering into the cuffs.
Cotton calicos printed in purple like this one were a popular choice from which to make practical day dresses in the mid 19th Century, and none more so than those manufactured by Thomas Hoyle and Sons of Manchester. Based at the heart of the cotton industry, Hoyle concentrated on the technical challenges of achieving good standards of printing calico with purple dyes that would be affordable to the middle classes. Such was his success that the factory became famed as a tourist attraction where visitors could marvel at its speed of production.