Upper-class colonists like Martha Washington ordered custom-made footwear from London. 

Pair of shoes, ca. 1750-1759, England, MVLA, purchase, 1975 [W-2667/A-B].When she married 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.

While faded today, the shoes are covered in purple satin-weave silk decorated with metallic sequins, lace, and braid. The toes originally had a slight dome and the tip gently curved upwards. 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 that travel through both layers in the flap indicate where the chape (or clasp) of the buckle was anchored.

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Martha Washington's Style

Often depicted as a grandmotherly figure in a mob cap, Martha Washington's contemporaries knew her as a woman of strength, determination, intellectual curiosity, and high fashion.

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