The ideal 1840s woman was a delicate being. She was innocent, modest, sensitive to etiquette, possessed of softly rounded shoulders and had a demure gaze. According to one 1843 description, proper young women, "never go into a passion, have no will of their own, never laugh out loud, or go anywhere without a gentleman, or take cheese at dinner."1 As with any archetype, there were probably women who didn't fit the ideal. Factory girls working in the mills of New England, settlers exploring the Oregon Trail, and the working poor were probably forced to ignore some of these qualities due to circumstance. Despite these and other exceptions, the 1840s ideal strongly suggested that a woman should be subdued, fragile and sentimental. This 1840s dress, made from diaphanous white cotton muslin edged with bobbin lace, suggests these qualities.