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When she married Colonel George Washington on January 6, 1759, Martha Dandridge Custis is said to have worn a "petticoat of white silk interwoven with silver," a gown of "deep yellow brocade with rich lace in the neck and sleeves," and these lavishly embellished shoes of "purple satin with silver trimmings." The combination of expensive, imported yellow and purple silks with silver and gold decorations would have produced a regal appearance that conveyed her elevated social and economic standing.

Description

A:
Heeled woman's shoe. The shoe is covered in purple satin-weave silk decorated with metallic sequins, lace, and braid. The shoe has a purple silk upper with navy blue silk top-binding and matching stitching. The squared vamp tongue is also decorated with a silver braid edging. The toe is blunted and originally had a slight dome; the tip of the toe gently curves upwards. The "Louis" shape heel, made from wood, is also covered in purple silk and has contrasting white stitching. It is further decorated with silver and metallic braid. The upper is attached to the brown leather sole with white kid leather rands, providing a contrasting line. Straps, or "latchets," extend from the quarter to cross the vamp throat; their length accommodated the buckle that was once used to fasten the shoe closed. The strap is lined with white kid leather; small holes which travel through both layers in the flap indicate where the chape (or clasp) of the buckle was anchored.

B:
Heeled woman's shoe. The shoe is covered in purple satin-weave silk decorated with metallic sequins, lace, and braid. The shoe has a purple silk upper with navy blue silk top-binding and matching stitching. The squared vamp tongue is also decorated with a silver braid edging. The toe is blunted and originally had a slight dome; the tip of the toe gently curves upwards. The "Louis" shape heel, made from wood, is also covered in purple silk and has contrasting white stitching. It is further decorated with silver and metallic braid. The upper is attached to the brown leather sole with white kid leather rands, providing a contrasting line. Straps, or "latchets," extend from the quarter to cross the vamp throat; their length accommodated the buckle that was once used to fasten the shoe closed. The strap is lined with white kid leather; small holes which travel through both layers in the flap indicate where the chape (or clasp) of the buckle was anchored. On the bottom of the shoe, affixed to the ball of the foot, are two labels. The first reads: "53", and the second positioned directly under it reads: "MT. VERNON."

Date

c. 1750-1759


Geography


Material/Technique

Silk, linen, leather, metallic lace, thread, sequins, wood


Dimensions

Overall: 4 11/16 in. x 3 in. x 9 1/4 in. (11.89 cm x 7.62 cm x 23.5 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1975


Object Number

W-2667/A-B


Colors (Beta)


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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