Ralph Lauren's Spring/Summer 2012 show, which was inspired by Downton Abbey. Image courtesy of ImaxTree.com.
Stylish tea party inspiration: Movies and TV
Get into the spirit of of white gloves and fine china with a generous serving of Brit classics, which all feature an elegant tea party or two—Brideshead Revisited, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice (skip the 2005 Keira Knightley movie in favour of the 1995 mini-series, with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Trust). A fashionable must-watch? Downton Abbey, which inspired Ralph Lauren’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection of cloche hats and floral chiffons. Across the pond at London Fashion Week, Downton’s Lady Edith and Lady Mary Crawley (er, actresses Laura Carmichael and Michelle Dockery) sat front-row at Mulberry alongside Michelle Williams and Elizabeth Olsen. “Quite,” as the Dowager Countess might say.
Stylish tea party inspiration: Spring/Summer 2012 runways
Look to Ralph Lauren, Erdem, Prada and Jil Sander. The top tea-party worthy trends this season? A lovely trifecta of florals, pastels and lace. Use the trends for fashion inspiration, definitely, but you can also parlay the ladylike looks into tea cups, table settings and floral arrangements.
Stylish tea party: Your outfit
Think ladylike with a twist. Pair a purple pleated floral frock with elegant white sandals and wrist-length lace gloves. Or opt for a dress in a sweet sorbet shade, like strawberry or mint, and dress up a romantic braided bun with a brooch worn as a hair accessory.
Stylish tea party: Guest list
Keep it to six people max (so that brewing duty doesn’t become your full-time gig), and ask your friends to dress in their best tea party fashion. In your invite, send inspiration pics of ladylike fashion icons such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O.
Stylish tea party: How to brew the perfect cup
The most important part! We asked Hoda Paripoush, the founder of Sloane Teas, to share her tips for brewing Sloane Tea’s wonderful Earl Grey Classic. Paripoush recommends:
• Warm the teapot with hot water. Dedicate one teapot per tea type i.e., a teapot dedicated to only black teas.
• Fill the kettle with freshly drawn water (use the best quality water you can find—filtered or bottled is fine), and bring it to a boil. Water that has been double-boiled will affect the taste of the tea.
• Measure one rounded teaspoon of tea into the teapot for each person, and one extra spoonful of tealeaves "for the pot".
• Remove the kettle as soon as it boils and allow it to come off the boil for a minute or two.
• Pour the not-quite-boiling water onto the leaves and leave to steep for 4 to 5 minutes.
• Serve in fine bone china cups as the delicacy of the cup does seem to enhance the delicacy of the tea within. I recommend heating the cups before pouring the tea into them, just as was done with the teapot.
• Add a splash of milk or a slice of lemon to taste.
What treats should you serve with the tea? Read on for the chic set's sweet must-have!
A lovely tableau, courtesy of the Sloane Tea Company.
Stylish tea party: It girl treats
In 2012, the style set’s preferred treat is still the macaron (sorry, cupcakes — we’ll always be sweet on you!). In response to a sweltering heat wave during the Spring/Summer 2012 shows in Paris, the organizers at Chloé removed the roof and served salted caramel macarons and champagne. (Merci!) Since macarons are so beautiful, simply choose an array of different flavours and arrange them in concentric circles on a vintage cake plate.
Stylish tea party: Playlist essential
Classical music is always a safe choice, but if you’re looking for a more modern vibe, check out Scottish newcomer Emeli Sandé, whose single “Heaven” rocked the Spring/Summer 2012 Christian Dior runway. We like her poppy and plaintive “Next to Me” even better. Look for Sandé’s debut album to drop this June.
Stylish tea party: Flowers
Delicate: Tea roses
For both, choose subtle hues like ivory or soft pink. Place them in short vases so that the flowers spill over the sides. Or, take your inspiration from Kate Moss’s wedding flowers and create small bouquets of tea roses, lisianthus and marguerites.
Stylish tea party: Champagne cocktails
If you’d like something a little stronger than Earl Grey, we recommend the timeless, ultra chic champagne cocktail. The recipe is simple—add a dash of Angostura bitters and a sugar cube to the bottom of a chilled champagne glass, then slowly pour in the champagne (or cava, or Prosecco). Garnish with a twist of lemon. For extra flair, serve it in a coupe glass, instead of a flute. The toast? To a stylish summer, of course!
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VIDEO: Behind the scenes of ELLE Canada's June 2012 cover shoot