When we think of the civil war era most often we think of hoop dresses and silk ball gowns. Yet not all women could afford the nice dresses. For the working class or farm women, they needed to wear something a little more practical than a bulky hoop.
Work dress resembled day dresses only the skirts were not as full. Under their skirts they would wear a corded petticoat or a couple layers of regular petticoats. The sleeves would be made to roll up such as the full gathered bishop sleeve. Women who did not have servants needed to be able to scrub their own laundry, weed the garden, beat the rugs and so much more.
Women were thrifty so they still wanted to protect their work dresses as best as they could so they wore pinner aprons. Pinner aprons covered the front of the dress and consisted of a bib that covered the bodice of the dress and a half skirt that covered the front skirt. It tied at the waist. Two straight pins held the bib up, hence the name, pinner aprons. Pinner aprons were easy to make and took less fabric than the dress.
For civil war reenacting and living histories the work dress is often called a camp dress. Women reenactors wear this style dress while they are cooking over the fire in the civil war camps.
My civil war ancestors were all Virginia farmers. They did not own slaves and had to do their own work. They were hard workers. So when doing living histories I love to portray a farm woman in tribute to them.