19 April 2006
You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Cuppa
Giving advice on what to wear can be really sensitive. I for one do not like to be dictated to by fashion magazines or celebrities, or even well-meaning friends. So tackling the subject of suitable getup for tea parties or anywhere tea related is not easy. That being said, here are my feelings about tea wear, take it or leave it:
Tearooms: It all depends on what the style of the tearoom is. If you are taking afternoon tea in a hotel like the St. Regis, you don't show up in jeans and t-shirt. You just don't. It's too fancy a place, you'll feel like a jerk with I Love New York emblazoned on your chest. Extra effort is necessary. If you hate wearing skirts, I'm sure you have some nice trousers (some call them slacks, I don't know, that word makes me gag) and a blouse, that's fine. For guys, skirts would probably be out of the question, though I would have no problem with kilts or kurtas.
Now if you are visiting an "urban" tearoom (see teamap.com), casual wear is just fine. I would still lay off the sloppy t-shirts. Be yourself, just not the yourself as you'd appear rolling out of the bed in the morning.
Tea Parties At Home: It's not always worth it to go all out and frilly when you are invited to take tea at someone's home. If a group of people are coming and it's an apartment, you may end up sitting on the floor. Know your host/hostess and their home if possible. If it's going to be at a dining room table, then lean slightly more towards the Hotel Tea look. Otherwise, even jeans are fine (Marie) as long as they are in good condition and fit. And please, please! No shorts! Cropped pants, maybe, but shorts should be left for the beach and picnics.
Outdoor Tea Parties/Picnics: Also depends on whether you will be at a table or a blanket.
Accessories: This section is certainly not for the guys. Gloves are a waste of time, there are too many finger foods. I love wearing hats to tea, but not baseball caps. It's not necessary, though, just my preference. Too outlandish a hat is no good either - we're not at Ascot, are we? Wear a tiara and wings if you really want to ruin your parties' appetite.
These are only suggestions. I would not apply these bits of advice to the person enjoying a mug of Irish Breakfast at 9am (Gata): by all means, wear pajamas! But when there is an invitation involved or an outing, isn't it nice to look nice? Really, this is applicable to many areas in life. We have a lot more latitude nowadays, it's great to be creative in our dress when possible (modestly, of course.) Have fun, wear something "ethnic" if you want, break out your favorite necklace. And don't forget your best accessory - your smile! Teatime is supposed to be fun! Just not frumpy.