A walking dress was a trainless dress that one could walk in without any part of the dress touching the ground. In an era dominated by horse-drawn vehicles (among other less salubrious refuse that might end up on the streets), the resulting debris picked up by long, trained skirts could be rather foul, and it’s not surprising that the elaborate trains of the 1870s and early 1880s did not last.
This week’s rate the dress illustrates how widespread the global textile trade was in the mid-19th century, and how a dress worn in Europe or the Americas might be made from fabric woven in China. It also brings up an interesting discussion of how Asian fashion and textiles have been perceived, and pigeonholed, in the West.
This week’s dress is an elegant evening ensemble, suitable for a reception or dinner. It’s also an amazing example of how quickly fashion changed in one generation: from the heavy layers of the 1880s, to a light, open frock which afforded glimpses of the legs up to the calves.