The dress pictured is from my 1861 Godey's book and features a dress known as a wrapper. I love the trim work on this dress. Notice how the dress buttons all the way down the front? By buttoning down the front it made it easier for women to put it on. They could wrap the dress around themselves hence the name wrapper.
Many women wore wrappers in the early morning hours before visitors would come by. Much like we may wear a robe today. Wrappers were also very common among pregnant women and nursing mamas.
The dress in the picture is nicer than a basic wrapper and could be worn as a visiting or calling dress.