19th Century

Steampunk Afternoon Tea

A few weekends ago I attended a lovely Steampunk themed afternoon tea organized by the fabulous Emily of Ever So Scrumptious.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

I didn’t make anything new outfit-wise for the the tea, but it was the perfect opportunity for me to wear the 1883 in Every Way pleated skirt myself for the first time.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Some people did manage to make new outfits – Sarah had just finished her fantastic striped Victorian ensemble.  I own some of the same fabric.  It’s fascinating stuff – silk cotton, green in some lights, blue in others, and distinctly brown in others.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Afternoon tea was held at the Wellesley Hotel, a fantastic old hotel with great staircases, a beautiful atmospheric lobby, and a fascinating collection of art – and taxidermy.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Every time I’m at the Wellesley I discover something new.  This visit’s find was their records of the atmospheric measurements in Wellington, including the record for the day of the Wahine  disaster.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Check out the plummet in atmospheric pressure.  They say it was the worst extratropical cyclone in New Zealand’s history, and the reading supports it.

Right, back to fabulous steampunkery.  And tea.  Mmmmm…tea.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

And guys in steampunk-esque military uniforms.  I think we should replace business suits with steampunk esque military uniforms as the standard dress for me.  The world would be so much more elegant.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Of course, if you look at the track records of societies where significant portions of the men wore military uniforms, it wasn’t a good idea.  Sigh.  Scratch that.  We’ll have to find another way to achieve male sartorial elegance.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

Speaking of sartorial elegance, and Friday’s post, I was slightly lacking.  The saturday of the steampunk tea was not a good day for me – I woke up at 2am with a rare migraine, and spent two hours in the shower before trying to go back to bed with every available painkiller.  Up until an hour before the tea I wasn’t sure if I could sit upright and keep any food down.  Hiding under the covers was way more important than ironing the skirt, so my pleats were less than precise.   And you know what?  I’m totally OK with that.  At least I managed to make it out to the tea, and spend time with my friends.

I did have to sit facing away from the lights and windows, and wasn’t as perky as usual, but the painkillers and caffeine finally took effect, and by the time we toured the hotel after tea I was quite chipper.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

I LOVE that lobby.  I want to move into it.

Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com

And the twisting staircase?  Fabulous.
Steampunk afternoon tea thedreamstress.com
That’s me, at the very bottom with the grand piano.  Waving goodbye.



  1. Did you know that the Wellesley used to be a Gentleman’s Club – and was up until I suspect about 20 years ago. I guess there wasn’t such a call for two clubs in Wellington after that so it became a sensible hotel. But that is why it is so delicious! You all look so purdy and I am TOTALLY going next time, businesses be hanged!

  2. It looks fantastic, and your dress looks fantastic, and I wouldn’t even notice the pleats – would not give a second thought to them – if you did not mention them.

    It’s a pity about the uniforms, isn’t it? But then, there are men who would never ever agree to that – like my father and other people who had to go to compulsory military training – so I guess we will have to come up with something else. Or enjoy those that happen, like one enjoys a specially nice day!

    • Thanks Hana! The pleats aren’t noticeable in photos, because the wind would be ruffling the perfect lie of the lines anyway. And I don’t think they were that obvious in person either.

      The lack of uniforms is sad but good. I certainly don’t want to live in a militarized society!

  3. Your outfit is perfectly lovely!
    “I think we should replace business suits with steampunk esque military uniforms as the standard dress for me.” – that also holds true for velvet frock coats and silk brocade waistcoats. (Every time I see Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka it strikes me how much better a world this would be were every man dressed like him.)

    • Thank you Silver! I am a sucker for a frock coat and silk brocade waistcoat too, but not every man can pull one off, whereas I don’t think I have ever met a man who isn’t improved in a uniform. They’d be a definite improvement on most things that guys these days wear though!

  4. Jamie says

    Love the outfit! Boo about the migraine though. I do have a question — I love your hat, what is it? Is it something you whipped up, or bought? I love that kind of style. 😀

    • Thanks Jamie! I picked up the hat in an op-shop in Napier in February. It’s a vintage glengarry which is missing its torrie. Based on the materials used, and to a lesser extent the wear patterns which indicate it was worn cocked to the side, it’s 1950s or earlier. I think it works well for steampunk as an alternative to the ubiquitous top-hats. I want to add something steampunky (but more than just a gear!) to the rosette and as a replacement torrie, but haven’t figured out what.

  5. You poor thing. I’m so glad to hear that you were able to make it to your tea – I’ve lost way too many hours to migraines over the years. Even if you weren’t feeling you best you look fabulous in the photos.

    I’m intrigued about a shower helping, I’ve never heard of that. Was it warm, or cool?

    • I don’t get migraines very often (thankfully!) and my migraines have some aspects of tension headaches, including (also thankfully!) a reasonable chance of going away with painkillers.

      The shower was as hot as I could make it. All my life showers or baths have made me feel better. A shower doesn’t actually help with the pain and headache itself, but it relaxes the rest of my body enough for me to fall asleep for a few hours, breaking the cycle of vomiting and giving the painkillers a chance to take effect.

      And thank you 🙂

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