Most of Martha Washington's apparel is known today to us through fragments, as her descendants disassembled and distributed these garments as treasured heirlooms. This gown, constructed of brown satin-weave silk, is the only intact example at Mount Vernon. Eliza Parke Custis Law (1776-1832) lovingly preserved it with a handwritten note identifying it as "a favorite gown of my dear Grandmother Mrs. Washington." The gown's styling, including its scoop neckline, three button flaps to secure the front closure, tight-fitting sleeves, and bustled skirt open at the front, suggest a 1790s date. Mrs. Washington possibly wore it while her husband was President, thereby setting an example of understated elegance for the nation and future presidents' wives to follow.


One-piece gown of brown, satin-weave silk. Boned, closed bodice with three straps buttoning across center front. Front of bodice crenellated with eight tabs at waist; back of bodice is pointed. Wide, rounded neckline. Elbow-length sleeves. Full-length pleated skirt open at center front with slight train at back. Bodice lined with linen; skirt unlined.





Silk, linen


Overall: 58 5/8 in. (148.91 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1949

Object Number


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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