Flowing dresses, wide-brimmed straw hats with silk flowers and brightly colored ribbons, and even wrist-length white cotton gloves are signs that women dressing for tea is back in style. Men are even getting into the act, wearing suits and ties. What’s this all about?
One thing that might be influencing teatime apparel is the promotion of afternoon tea and a fancy version of “high tea” at tearooms across the U.S. Drinking the delicate tea blends from bone china cups and saucers just seems to go naturally with garments of silk, rayon, and taffeta (yes, it’s back!). Accessorizing with scarves, jewelry, and the aforementioned hats and gloves is part of the process. Millinery is even on the rise again, with designers’ sites popping up online, such as Tea Hats at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Summer Tea Hats from Emily Way Hats.
One famous person who made hat-wearing fashionable again was the late Princess Diana of the UK. In fact, her sense of style influenced designers and teatime imbibers alike. Then, there is the Red Hat Society, so named because they all wear red hats, with various chapters popping up not only in the Southern U.S. but also in such places as Vancouver, Washington.
Sometimes, dress-up teas are given to commemorate special occasions. Such was the First Ladies Victorian Tea in Artesia, California, where the event notice stated: “Ladies are invited to wear hats and gloves if they’d like.” Another one was “Tea and Crumpets” hosted by Janneu & The Great Wall of Tea and the Roswell Garden Club members in Alpharetta, Georgia. Attendees were encouraged to “wear your favorite hat” and enjoy the tea.
Spring and Summer seem to be the best times for such events, since the hats, gloves, and dresses tend to be a bit on the light side and therefore not very good at staving off blizzardy snow and wind. Torrential rain and chilly temps tend to render these apparel items rather pathetic, also.
Of course, the male attendees often dress in well-tailored suits and silk ties. Some even shave and comb their hair (kidding!). Teatime and dressing for tea is definitely not just for women after all. Men, too, need that “time out” that taking tea brings from the stresses of life. They can enjoy socializing, too, while munching on some of the heartier teatime fare available these days and drinking a range of teas. Even children can enjoy dressing for tea, sort of like putting on some grown-up’s clothes from an old trunk or some of mommy and daddy’s things from their closet. In short, the whole family can get into the act.
Whether at a fancy tearoom or your own home, you can dress up for tea. I often do and can attest that it really does make the tea taste better. Not to mention the pies and cakes!
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