The 1890s were a period of rapid change in American culture. Rigid and formal social standards loosened, and the role of women began to change. Industrialization provided more opportunities to work and make money.
Women began enthusiastically participating in sports, especially bicycling. Wearing a divided skirt allowed for modesty and increased freedom of movement. However, the hourglass figure was the desirable silhouette for women. Bodices were boned and featured large balloon or leg of mutton sleeves. Tightly corseted waists and gored skirt finished the hourglass effect. Another feature of this decade was the high, stiff neckband.
Charles Dana Gibsons Gibson Girl exemplified the ideal American woman. The skirt and shirtwaist were hallmarks of the Gibson Girls style. Suits consisting of a tailor-made jacket and skirt remained a staple in womens wardrobes for many years.