Afternoon tea & dress ups – of course!

I have been such a busy little bee social butterfly lately*!  In addition to the photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum, I had a dress up high tea with friends

Afternoon tea & dress ups

The dress up theme was supposed to be tea gowns, but I realised too late that my tea gown needed to be all ready for the photoshoot, so I wore the Watteau in Paradise dress and pretended it was  tea gown.  It was a good choice, because it meant the wonderful  Sadie who gave it to me finally got to see me in it.

Afternoon tea & Afternoon tea & dress ups ups thedreamstress.com03

There is something so lovely about sitting down to the ritual of afternoon tea: trying to pick the tea trio that best coordinates with your outfit and mood, choosing your beverage (I went with blooming tea), and then working your way through all the delicacies on the tea tray.

Afternoon tea & dress ups

There were finger sandwiches, savoury tarts, tiny little quiches, scones with passionflower and raspberry jam, darling little cupcakes, custard tarts, and macarons: heaven!

Afternoon tea & dress ups

We were celebrating all sorts of things: birthdays and awards and PHd’s – and mostly the chance to get together.  And making sure that le Comtesse finally had a proper Kiwi afternoon tea: her first in 7 years in NZ!

Afternoon tea & dress ups

In addition to enjoying the food, there was lots of outfit admiring:

Afternoon tea & dress ups

Sadie went with a 1920s inspired look, with a dress by NZ designer DNA, and a vintage kimono jacket:

Afternoon tea & dress ups

We talked Madame O into wearing her blue sari Regency dress again (she wore it to the Bastille day masquerade ball), and I’m so glad, because I love it!

Afternoon tea & dress ups

Afternoon tea & dress ups

And le Comptesse got very clever and combined a robe a la francaise with a 1900s front and petticoat, playing with the idea of historicism in tea gowns.  Considering all the re-makes of 18th c fashions that appeared in the 19th c, it’s quite plausible that a real 18th c robe a la francaise was re-made as a tea gown at some point.

Afternoon tea & dress ups

Afternoon tea & dress ups

Sadly, we failed to get a photo of all of us together, which is a real shame because we coordinated so perfectly: red, yellow, blue and green!  Alas…

Still, such a lovely afternoon, and such an important thing to make time for.

* Somewhere there is a very confused insect with a stinger and pretty wings trying to figure out what happened…


  1. Kathy says

    Could we have an explanation of the first picture with the green ball in the bowl, the picture of the tea cup with water & flowers, and the silver strain with spinach? in it, please. They’re all totally baffling.



    • Hi Kathy,

      The green ball and the flowers in the cup go together, they are before and after photos of ‘blooming tea’. Blooming tea is a hand tied bundle of tea leaves and dried flowers or flower petals that swell up and ‘bloom’ in hot water.

    • Cate’s explained the blooming tea, but the silver strainer I can explain – it has tea leaves (proper loose leaf tea) in it, not spinach.

      To make proper tea you pour boiling water in the pot to warm it, swish the water around, and pour it out. Then you put the loose dried tea leaves in the pot, pour in more boiling water, and let steep the right amount. Then you pour it into your cup through the strainer, and the leaves are caught in the strainer and you have your tea.

      You can also make loose leaf tea by putting the loose tea leaves in a tea ball – a metal ball with holes in it, so the tea steeps through the holes. Totally loose is generally considered best though. 🙂

      • I also improvise with a cloth sometimes (at home; our tea balls broke). The problem there is that the water slowly seeps through the cloth and then starts dripping. 😛

  2. Elise says

    Hahaha–tea cups and china have been on my mind: I just found out that my Thanksgiving dinner will be larger than I anticipated, and I have a few broken pieces of Johnson Brothers Blue Willow to replace. I’ve been scouring etsy.

    How neat to see so many neat people enjoying a real tea served on real plates!

  3. Lynne says

    What a lovely event! ‘Blooming tea’ is new to me, too. How very pretty! Did it taste pleasant?

    • I find that blooming tea varies depending on the maker, and the flowers included – some go for pretty over taste (this one was a wee bit grassy) and some are lovely. I’ll try to find some to send to you!

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