Henry Livingston, Jr.
fancy dressed Santa


Poughkeepsie might not have been Paris, but the fashion magazines were undoubtedly read with as much enthusiasm on the shores of the Hudson as they were on the shores of the Seine. But American and Dutch practicality would undoubtedly soften the more extreme European styles. These dresses were in fashion around the time Henry's parents were courting.

Revolutionary Era Fashions

Which is not to say that Poughkeepsie didn't see its share of extreme fashion.



With the ladies' permission, most humbly I'd mention
How much we're oblidged by all their attention;
We sink with the weight of the huge obligation
Too long & too broad to admit compensation.

For us (and I blush while I speak I declare)
The charming Enchanters be-torture their hair,
Till gently it rises and swells like a knoll
Thirty inches at least from the dear little pole;
From the tip-top of which all peer out together
The ribband, the gause, & the ostrich's feather;
Composing a sight for an Arab to swear at
Or huge Patagonian a fortnight to stare at.

Then hoops at right angles that hang from ye knees
And hoops at the hips in connection with these
Set the Fellows presumptuous who court and alliance
And ev'ry pretender, at awful defiance.

And I have been told (though I must disbelieve
For the tidings as fact, I would never receive)
That billets of cork have supplied the place
Of something the Fair-ones imagine a grace;
But whether 'tis placed behind or before;
The shoulders to swell, or the bosom to shoar
To raise a false wen or expand a false bump
Project a false hip or protrude a false rump,
Was never ascertain'd; and fegs I declare
To make more enquiry I never will dare.

Fashions for Men and Women


That hero whose great & magnanimous mind
Explored and gave a new world to mankind.
A shell fish by gentle & simple desired
And the word you most hated from her you admired.
The end of my plowing & aim of your speaking;
And the creatures that Saul & his servants were seeking.
What pope could not bear tho it's seen ev'ry day
When you my good friend & myself's on the way:
The initials of these will present you a swain
As clever as any that trips o'er the plain;

Of aspect engaging, of manners refined,
And of Laws mighty carcase a member designed.
His friends have asserted (if fame with his trumpet
Don't lie like a harden'd old impudent strumpet)
That Ovid's gay volume & Horace's wit,
His fancy hath ever more forcibly hit,
I have Blackstone sententious and Solheld verbose.
Or Coke upon Littleton's afternoon dose.

And I must declare from my own observation
He shines at a teatable's mixt conversation.
To gay little things, he can little things utter
Whether Hyson's the subject or biscuit & butter.
Talk of gowns from the tight closely puckered chammeze
To the light airy frisk & the loose poloneze.
In the mystery of Tuckers all yield to his learning
And each one allows in a hoop he's discerning:
In short from the shoe & the soft shammy glove
To the ostrich's feather that trembles above
He's deeply conversant -- He too has the art
To engage the affection & bind the soft heart;
To whisper the language of passion & truth
In the ear of sweet innocence, beauty & youth.

On my word pretty females his faults are but few
And such as will yield to be cured by you.
His virtues are many -- then hasten around him
And home to the heart with your lovely eyes wound him;
Transfix and transfix him, nor give up the day
Till you bear off the prize to the altar away.

Jane Paterson Livingston's boot pattern


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