Two items of clothing worn by George Washington on his inauguration in 1789.
The top suit, although modest in color and tone, is actually at the forefront of fashion for the time period. It’s double-breasted and is cut away in front, a style that was just beginning to appear in Europe. Cloth, double-breasted.
Washington was always extremely conscious of his appearance and how he looked to others. He was determined to look and act the part of the 18th century gentleman, as he would have understood the term. There are letters he wrote (before the Revolutionary War) to his agent in London where Washington chastises the agent for failing to send to Washington suits of the latest fashions.
One way in which Washington displayed his awareness of how he was judged was with this suit. He specifically ordered this suit from cloth produced at the Hartford Woolen Manufactory in Hartford Connecticut.
“It will not be a great while,” Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette a few months before the inauguration, “before it will be unfashionable for a gentleman to appear in any other dress.” [here Washington is referring to ordering American made products]
The second item is a set of knee buckles. This was an accessory that would have been attached to the breeches to help cinch them tight around the knee. The buckles are mother-of-pearl, brass, with paste rhinestones. The suit is at Mt. Vernon, the buckles are in the Morristown museum.