HIGH TEA SERVED WITH
200 YEARS OF HIGH FASHION
Palestine Preservation Projects Society members modeled a charming
and extensive collection of dresses ranging from the closets of Martha
Washington in 1789 to a 20th century beaded silk cocktail dress at
the recent Harper House high tea and style show.
Washington, portrayed by Lugene Bond, Robinson, was accompanied
by a “common woman,” Betty Lou Lawhead, Robinson, from
the late 18th century who explained that women of the time in the
eastern colonies often wore their night dresses all day and for
several days as underclothing with their skirt and waistcloth over
Head coverings, bags, and often shoes were also part of many
of the outfits for the style show.
who were married to more prosperous farmers might wear two skirts
and keep one tucked up under their waistband so
company came by they could untuck it and have on a clean skirt.
The handbags of the time were fastened around the waist and were
often extensively decorated by hand stitching. The more intricate
stitching, the more likely the skilled young lady would be
considered favorably as candidate for marriage.
Greek goddesses were the inspiration of dresses worn around
the time Palestine became an incorporated village, 1811.
ago women who could afford to be in style wore dresses with
scooped necklines gathered in an empire waist under the bodice.
The dresses were straight in an A line with some subtle gathers
around the bustle area. The ladies often wore fingerless
long gloves, tucked
modesty collars into their necklines, and wore straw bonnets
adorned with feathers over a cap.
An authentic gown was modeled by Polly Rapp and another by
Myrna McNair, both of Palestine.
An 1830 original black Sunday suit with beaded bonnet,
belonging to Reba Nave Goodwin, was modeled by Rosemary
She carried her own carpet bag, the type popularly used
for travel during
Victorian dresses made of gingham and calico were the
style of the prairie pioneer women of the mid 1800s.
with high collars and fitted sleeves adorned with ruffles
were often accompanied by matching large sun bonnets.
Palestine, modeled such a dress made by her mother.
An 1830 settler’s
outfit consisting of skirt, top and apron was worn by Valerie Fulling,
Palestine, who also helped serve. Judy Beckes, Palestine, and Penny
Lycan, Robinson, also helped serve in similar outfits.
Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln attended the high tea. High
tea does not denote the class of the attendees but
served at a high table
rather than the low sofa table from which tea is
served later in the afternoon. High tea is usually more like
a meal, marked
the six courses ranging from a fruit cup to chicken
salad and cucumber finger sandwiches with cheesy
also satisfied by pecan kringle and cake with caramel
a piece of Christmas fudge.
Mrs. Lincoln, portrayed by Bond, was dressed in the
inaugural gown she wore to President Lincoln’s first inauguration. The gown,
an ankle length creation of rose covered fabric, was accented by
a pink parasol, large dangly pearl earrings and a freshwater pearl
necklace, all popular in the 1860s. Mrs. Lincoln’s gown was
copied from photographs of her at the inauguration by Lawhead.
Myrna McNair modeled a night gown which had been
owned and worn in the 1860s by Blanche Kirkwood
McClaflin, great grandmother
Lee Shaw. The gown was made of soft muslin with
red embroidery for decoration. Buttoning all
the waist down
was fastened with straightforward buttons in
a placket but from
the waist up the placket hid the buttons inside
the gown. A nightcap was also worn during this
From the 1930s a summer silk suit owned by Senator
Madge Green was worn by Ellis. A fox stole,
also very popular
in the 30s,
accompanied the silk suit.
The suit and hat were ordered from Paris, France.
The suit featured an intricately pleated
top and straight
her and dressed for a formal night on the
town in Green’s winter
coat with a white ermine fur collar, muff and scarf was Nita Jochim.
Kayla Goodwine, Palestine, and Alayna Griffin,
Robinson, were young ladies who also helped
keep the attendees’ plates full of tea
sandwiches and special salads. Griffin sported a formal afternoon
tea dress of pink embroidered crepe from the late 1930s. Goodwine
modeled an 8th grade graduation chemise with a chiffon overlay from
Jackie Shaw, Palestine, modeled an original
navy crepe dress designed by Fern Kincaid
the late 1930s.
It had diagonal
front and side with flowing back panels.
A cream hat topped off the ensemble.
hat were made
by Jacqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s
when her husband was in The White House.
Easy care polyester was a far more affordable
alternative fabric developed in the
20th century which was
easy to wash and wrinkle
free. All kinds of garments were mass
produced during this time in garment
retail sale. Men’s suits to women’s
dresses and suits were made popular. Pat Kincaid, Palestine, wore
a green polyester one-piece dress with a beige hat and purse and
gold jewelry, also popularly worn by women through the 1980s.
Mary Lee Shaw donned a black beaded
evening shift appropriate for a late
a cocktail party.
Each string of pearls
and beads were hand sewn with a stitch
similar to a quilting stitch.