I always loved the idea of “having tea”. I even describe myself as someone who “loves hats, gloves, and tea parties” on my Twitter profile. Tea seems so sophisticated and lady-like, but somehow I had never gotten around to it since my times as a little girl with a small, plastic tea set with water, or imaginary ”air” tea inside.
And then, suddenly, I found myself with two tea dates. The first that I knew of was my dear friend Becky Hawk née, Derwent’s bridal shower tea, and the second was idea for another dear friend Kayla’s birthday. I had always known I wanted to take Kayla to The Village Tea Room Restaurant & Bake Shop, since I knew she would love it there, but it was after I had the two days in my mind that I realized this was it! These were finally my chances to “have tea”!
And, as any good little fashionista, the first thing to cross my mind as I thought about these events, was: “What was I going to wear?” Of course nothing in my closet would do, and I have been a little apprehensive to spend money as I’m still in the job-search, so I decided to make a dress for tea. Those who can’t buy, can sew! I headed to Kayla’s, who already had a lovely Bustle Period, 1889 style, purple taffeta dress she had made and was waiting for the right occasion to christen, and I sifted through all of her patterns.
Since I associate “having tea” with extreme femininity, grace, gloves, hats, and sunglasses, my inspiration in my head while sorting through the hundreds of patterns was, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Even though she was First Lady during the early 1960s, when fashion was becoming less rigid, and costumes for women began to become more straight and unfitted, she dressed day-to-day more like the New Look campaigned by Dior. Though she did wear very on-trend princess-line style dress for the inaugural festivities in 1961. What is meant by the “New Look”, which deviated from the looks of the fashions during World War II. Since women were helping out in war times, skirts became shorter, fell just below their knees, and less full, so they could move more easily, and tops had broad, padded shoulders. But when Dior came out with his fashion line in 1947, he dropped skirt lengths back over the knees, made skirts very full, and had shoulders became soft and round again. This divided some women, who felt as though this was a step-back for them, saying, “Dior, no more dresses to the floor!”, while others appreciated the beauty of his designs. For me, even though it is a point for feminism, Dior is one of my favorite designers from a vintage appreciation standpoint. But, I digress.
So, where was I? Ah, yes, I wanted a dress that was full, long, and nipped in at the high waist. Eventually, I found a Retro-Vogue re-release pattern that had all of those things, and I was ready to start. I did make some adjustments to the pattern though, as the dress was backless, since it was to be worn with a small jacket. But since the deep August summer was upon us, I wanted something that would keep me cooler. I copied the pattern from the front of the dress to use as the back of the dress, took out the front pleating, folded it into a nice shape in the back, and moved the side zipper to the back. After I altered the pattern I was ready to start making my dress, all I needed now was fabric. I went to JoAnn Fabrics where Kayla works and together we picked out a lovely yellow and cream flower print cotton woven fabric that just screamed “me”. Finally, I would have my dress that would be my “DreamsinYellow” persona to a “tea”, haha, get it? I spent one evening cutting out the dress and another putting it together, and now all I needed were my accessories.
Since it was hot, I opted for a Mad Men inspired, first season Peggy, curled-end high ponytail, instead of a hat. I wore my pearl necklace since my dress had a dropped boxed shaped collar, and I finally had a reason to wear my Jacqueline Kennedy-inspired-impulse-purchase of mid-arm Italian leather gloves, from incenseNpeppermints Etsy shop some months earlier, and I wore a pearl bracelet over one glove. I wore a pair of low-heeled off-white mary-jane style shoes, and a hat box styled purse I had gotten from a Homegoods a long time ago, that was probably meant for storage, but ah well. I also wore a petticoat under the dress to really give it the correct fullness, a really important detail.
Here are some pictures from that day:
I was able to try the look out at The Village Tea Room Restaurant & Bake Shop, in New Paltz (we even got free cookies for dressing up!), and I knew I was ready for bridal tea in October! I think every woman should “have tea” with a few of her favorite ladies and/or gentlemen at least a few times a year. The clothes (although you don’t have to go quite as crazy as Kayla and I did) sort of force you to sit down and stay calm, which prompts deep conversation while you nibble at sweets and sip from your fancy teacups. It will do your soul and your friendships some good! Please share your tea stories with me if you have any, I would love to hear them!
If you do want to have tea, and you’re in the area, I do highly recommend The Village Tea Room Restaurant & Bake Shop. The atmosphere is lovely, the food is amazing, and all made from ingredients from local New Paltz business and farms, such as Liberty View Farms, and the staff is really kind. You can learn more about them at: http://www.thevillagetearoom.com/