Center for Women's History

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Dolley Madison’s Silk Satin Open Robe. The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Resource 5: Fashion and Politics

This exploration of Dolley’s sense of fashion shows both her taste for luxurious French fabric and her awareness of the political messages conveyed by her clothing choices.  The combined message of her clothing and her personality—European style and New World informality—subtly signaled that the United States would take its place among the world’s great powers, but it would do so on its own terms.

Creative: Tronvig Group