Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Tea Cup Started It All

The other day, one of my oldest and closest friends, Jose, text me and suggested Downton and tea.

Um, of course. 

Naturally the Titanic tea cups had to come out. I should mention that Jose and I used to sit in fourth grade together and squeal about the movie. I squealed about the dresses and he squealed about more manly things, like turbines and smoke stacks lol. But anyway, Titanic related squealing goes way back for us. When I bought the teacups, he was the first person I texted. 

So, if you give a mouse a cookie, or rather, if you give a costumer a tea cup, she's going to get inspired... The tea cup lead to a whole afternoon of finding Edwardian bits in my closet and roping in Jose for an impromptu photo shoot. Jose just got back from dressing back stage at fashion week, so I felt very privileged. Squeal, again. 

I love using Pinterest to get my thoughts together, so check out my board of Edwardian eye candy that inspired us for the shoot. Lots of Lilly Elsie...

The dress is an eBay find and it has been patiently waiting it's turn to be reintroduced to the world. It's a beautiful dress of ivory silk and lace. It looks early teens to me, for sure. Amazingly, it fits me, and luckily, it is in strong enough condition to try on. Unfortunately, though, it's too fragile to actually wear anywhere.

It's has surprisingly simple construction for an Edwardian gown, with no boning or inner bodice, so I would love to recreate it one day. Scroll on down for a bunch of pictures of the inside.

I wore it with vintage kidskin gloves, my Astoria shoes, some pearls my Grandmother gave me and a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous fan I picked up on my last trip to England. Underneath, I have some Edwardian era slips and a corset I got a while back from Period Corsets. And I must say, long line Edwardian corsets are not so comfortable. Something about how they constrict the hips. It took some getting used to.

So, on to the construction of the gown. I always think that's the most fascinating part! The pictures are pretty self explanatory, since the gown's construction is surprising simple for the era. The skirt is basically a long skirt with two shorter tiers attached at the waist. The two layers of the bodice are cut kimono style with no shoulder seams. The dress is mostly constructed with machine sewn seams, hand finished with overcast, the selvedges turned under so there are no raw edges. The lace layer of the bodice is pieced so the lace shows to it's best advantage. There are a lot of hooks and eyes.

The hems are turned up and and hand stitched. The longest skirt has five weights enclosed in the hem, and let me say, they are annoying as hell to walk with. They bang, bang, bang on your feet, even with the smallest, daintiest steps. This leads me to believe that the dress was probably intended to be worn with the train held up a lot of the time. The skirt had a ribbon near the edge of this train for that purpose, but it was badly, badly frayed and snarled so I removed it.

Oooo the fan. I found this at Covent Garden market, hiding on the table, surrounded my crap jewelry and chipped china. Just laying there, like meh. I nearly died. I was like, oh my god, gorgeous!! It had to come home with me. 

It's antique Victorian, silk, with mother of pearl staves and little gilt and silver spangles in a kind of georgian-esque pattern. Swoon.

The gloves are proabably mid 20th century. They are a little big on me in the arm and still take some time to put on. Apparently, as I read somewhere and I don't remember where, the fashionable, snug leather gloves of days past, could take a half hour and lots of powder and help to get them on. Wow.

Thank you, Jose, for all the fab pictures!

And the tea cup... I'm drinking my coffee out of it right now as I type! Have a great tuesday, all!


  1. Oh! This was charming, nostaglic, just lovely! And by the way, FYI, it looks like they have perhaps recovered the Titanic Violin! To be auctioned for a record amount regarding Titanic objects! You can look it up on line today! Of course, it must be authenticated, but I'm sure you and Jose would squeal!

  2. Wow, you look absolutely PERFECT! The dress, the fan, the gloves, it's all stunning!

  3. I enjoyed reading your informative article and considering the points you made. You make a lot of sense on internet & mobile marketing as a topic. Thank you for such an informative post.

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  4. I love this dress! I've been following your blog for a while now, and when I was invited to an Edwardian tea party I started searching for inspiration and remembered this post. As a result, I've actually used your gown as a basis for my costume (I hope that's ok?!).
    Once again thanks so much for sharing!! :)

    1. Absolutely!! That's why I share in the first place :) If you have any questions about the original gown, feel free to shoot them my way. It was such an amazing find :)


  5. Any chance you would consider selling this dress? I am having a hard time finding something similar for my wedding.