Image Is Everything: 18th Century Fashion of the Lees



Media Contact:Jim Schepmoes 804-493-1971 jschepmoes@stratfordhall.orgFor Immediate Release STRATFORD, VA, (April 30, 2014) –Join us on May 10, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon, as members of the George Washington Young Friends (GWYF) will be presenting a program featuring the fashions of the Stratford Lees as depicted in their portraits.  Moderated by Sue Bailey (co-founder of the GWYF), a series of men’s and women’s fashions will be modeled.  Each of the garments will be supported by observations from Bailey.  The historic context of the show and the unique opportunity to discuss the nature of the fashions makes this a unique and rare opportunity to glimpse the 18th-century in a truly unique manner.

As much as we would like to think that the concept of “dressing for success” was a 20th-century brainchild, it is much older than that. For centuries, mankind has used deportment, dress, and accoutrements as outward indicators of rank.

Thomas Lee was very cognizant of that fact when he commissioned portraits of himself and his wife for display in the grand new home they envisioned on the property he purchased in 1717. He not only wanted, but needed, to impress viewers of these portraits with the fact that he had wealth sufficient to purchase the trappings of a wealthy Englishman. Throughout the changes experienced by the Lees through births, marriages, and deaths, family members were still among the “notables” of their communities. As such, it would have been important to them to present an appropriate outward appearance.

In “Image Is Everything,” George Washington’s Young Friends offer a glimpse into the fashions witnessed by Stratford Hall from when Thomas Lee purchased the property, through 1817 when Alice Lee Shippen, the last surviving child of Thomas and Hannah Ludwell Lee, died.

GWYF amassed information about the events in the lives of the Lee family during this time period, and compiled them in a timeline. Analysis of the timeline revealed that similar events were clustered at particular times. Beginning with the portraits of Thomas and Hannah Ludwell Lee, they will demonstrate how the Lees may have dressed for these events. For instance, they intend to portray what may have been worn to formal events such as a wedding or ball, how the Lees and their neighbors dressed for travel, how weather affected attire, and what was worn in mourning.

Using fashion plates, extant garments, and period portraits, they have painstakingly fashioned outfits like ones that may have graced the halls of the Great House. All garments have been made using period construction techniques with materials that replicate originals as closely. Close attention has been paid to providing an ensemble with appropriate hair, accessories, and deportment.

Musical accompaniment will be provided which will match the specific time periods of each style period. Attendees will be able to observe the interrelationship between clothing styles, deportment, manners, and art.

Cost of the program is $15 for adults, $8 for children ages 12 and under, groups of five or more $3 each. For groups numbering less than 5, tickets are $5 each. For more information, contact Jon Bachman at 804-493-1972, or email him at