Martha Washington's Gown 360

0:35 Published August 15, 2016

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. Object #W-1523

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