Shirt waists (or waists) were definitely a major fashion item during the 1890s and they came in a wide variety of styles and colors. In an an era of black and white photography, it’s easy to lose sight (pardon the pun) of the idea that waists came in colors other than white. In this fashion plate, we see a very simple pink waist worn with a brown skirt. The sleeves on the waist are more relaxed than the stereotypical highly starched/structured leg-of-mutton sleeves (but that could simply be artistic license).
Here are some extant examples of waists that come close to the above plate:
In terms of fashion, waists were a relatively simple style but it did point the way for the more practical clothing styles that were to follow during the 20th century and more importantly, reflected of the changing status of women in society (a process that continues to this day).