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Favorite Era? Easy-peasy! Federal, of course. Whether furniture or fashion, the early Republic is my thing. I spend a fair amount of time in the 18th century, since there are so many events in that time period, and while I loved the story of the American Revolution as a child, the early Federal* period intrigues me more. Furniture, porcelain, wallpaper, and clothing from 1790-1820 all appeal to me, as well as the notion that women’s roles were in flux in the earliest decades of the United States.

“American Women and French Fashion,” from The Age of Napoleon

I love the idea of women in mercantile businesses and trade, and the way that milliners provided access to fashion (and you can read more about that in The Age of Napoleon).

Merrymaking at a Wayside Inn, watercolor on paper by John Lewis Krimmel. 1811-1813. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 42.95.12

I also love the way that American women (and men) translated European high style into a vernacular, as seen in John Lewis Krimmel’s watercolors of Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

This is a time period I’m comfortable in (yes, the stays are part of that comfort) but aside from comfort and aesthetics, I think it’s also because for a brief time, women had slightly more freedom than they had previously.

It was short-lived, and Republican motherhood was confining in its own way before the “cult of womanhood” blossomed fully. But ideals of freedom and fashion very briefly aligned, and for that, I love the Federal– and vain creature that I am, I think it suits me.

*pre-Andy Jackson, amirite?