After the first year of mourning, a woman had more freedom choosing her clothing which was known as "half-mourning," a woman could begin to wear hats again, unlike in deep mourning, when she would have only worn a simple bonnet with a long crape veil. Colors like grey and purple were also allowed. This dress shows more ornamentation than a deep mourning toilette, as it is trimmed with some embroidery and beads made from jet, lusterless black coal also used in making mourning jewelry
Helen Wisner Muller, Albumen Carte de Visite, Circa 1861 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! - "W. J. Moulton, Photographer, 116 & 118 Water St., El Mira, N.Y." To see detail shot where you can see her delightful smile, replete with teeth: www.flickr.com/photos/60861613@N00/6380091443/in/photostream Unknown is for whom Helen is wearing deepest mourning in this image. It would have to be a very close relative.