Afternoon tea on a Sunday with the girls is fast becoming a new tradition! Last weekend I accompanied a party of eight to celebrate a joint birthday party at the Soho's Secret Tea Room in Soho London. So secret in fact that when someone heard I was going there they asked me to let them know where it was if I found it as they completely failed to do so!
This was my afternoon tea outfit which was a last minute combination when I realised I was running very late and still had to get dressed. It was one of those daft "I have nothing to wear" moments when faced with rails absolutely stuffed with clothes to choose from, a moment I'm glad to say I managed to overcome by pulling out two items I haven't worn in long time and mixing in a more recent purchase, this colourful, fitted wool paisley jacket which I had set my heart on wearing. It was very much a "let's randomly fling these three or four things together and see if they work" process!
On consultation for his esteemed opinion Mr V expressed reservations about "all those different collars going on together". It wasn't working for him. I began to fret! But I had pretty much run out of time by that point to change, and if I had it would have been exchanging a colourful jacket for a black one. But I'm trying not to do that anymore right? That's the whole point of this blog! It was still cold but there was glorious sunshine and I wanted to wear some colour for a change. So dressed like this I went. A navy coat, a pink and blue paisley scarf and some gold studded burgundy heels to change into in my handbag and I was good to go.
This lace blouse and embroidered organza teal skirt have both been in my wardrobe for many, many years so it was nice to get them out again. I've noticed recently that teal is back on the fashion world's radar as a colour de jour and the peplum on the blouse is very now too. So there you go! You know what they say about keeping clothes for long enough...
These are the same patterned tights I wore my friend's wedding last month which a lot of people commented on. I'm hoping it keeps warming up here as after months of thick woollen opaque tights I'm ready to embrace feminine lacy tights like these every day!
Given Mr V's reaction I was a bit unsure of my ensemble, but when I arrived at tea I found it was a hit with the girls! Just goes to show I should trust my own instincts more often. It also illustrated an interesting point in how differently men and women can view an outfit. I doubt most men would "get" this outfit but it turned out to be just right for a girly tea gathering in vintage styled tea rooms on a sunny spring afternoon. Do we really dress for ourselves or do we dress for others? Or is it a bit of both? Who do we have in mind when we are getting dressed? Men or women? There is a theory often banded about that women are more likely to dress for other women as men are unlikely to be an appreciative audience for fashion. I have to say from my own experiences I can see some truth in that and would be interested in what others think.
There are some women who admirably and adamantly live by the mantra of dressing for themselves. As for myself, I'll admit that while I don't really need approval from my loved one to go out wearing something, I do prefer on the whole that he likes what I'm wearing. It's natural to want the person you love to think you look nice isn't it? But even if he isn't entirely convinced, I sometimes try it anyway and then feel sartorially vindicated when I get fashion high fives from the girlfriends!
As for the afternoon tea...this was my first time at Soho's Secret Tea Room. It will also be my last. Firstly when I arrived in the old dilapidated pub above which the tea house is located I asked the girl serving if there was a tea house there. She regarded me snootily and asked if I had a reservation - it was as if I'd asked her if I could have a table at the Ritz! Then she proceeded to studiously ignore me and serve people at the bar as if I wasn't standing there waiting for her to show me where to go. Part of the secretive process I wondered? Was there some secret hand signal I was supposed to be giving her that I didn't know about? I finally just had to press her into telling me where I had to go as as my friends were all already up there, at which point she finally conceded and let me pass through and behind the bar to a stairway leading upstairs.
The tearoom is not large but it was very full and the staff seemed to be struggling to get orders on to the tables. I ordered tea but it took ages to come and had to remind the girl I ordered it from to bring it over, by which time it was cold. Our sandwiches and cakes were hardly brought promptly either but we had barely got through half of it when we were brought the bill and asked whether we wanted the rest packed up in boxes to take away. It turned out they wanted their table back after a mere one and a half hours. I hadn't even finished my first cup of tea.
This kind of thing happens often in London and it drives me nuts. Even in some of the top restaurants where you pay a lot of money to eat, you have to eat within a one and a half hour shift so that the punters are churned through and profits are maximised. Forget going out for a relaxing meal! The birthday girls insisted they were not told at the time of booking that this was explained to them otherwise they would have never booked the table. Rather than a customer is always right stance, the waitress suggested in a rather passive aggressive manner that she would be sending over the manager (to kick us out no doubt).
We managed to be belligerent enough to keep eating and drinking for a bit longer than we were perhaps welcome and unsurprisingly nobody wanted to pack up any leftovers to take home when we were again pressured to give up the table. Poor service of the sort we received was enough to leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth to wipe out any memory of how tasty the cakes might have been.
The wonderful company and conversation of my friends however, was and will remain the most pleasant and memorable thing about the afternoon. Happily, on finally being shoved out the door and having had our afternoon tea cut short, we extended the celebrations into ginger beers and cocktails at the lavishly decked out gay bar down the road!
I believe it falls to me to be organising the next afternoon tea (birthday coming up) so if any Londoners out there have a stellar suggestion for an afternoon tea experience that could compete with my current favourite at the British Museum then I'd love to hear from you!
And this week Bella of The Citizen Rosebud is hosting a favourite Shoe Shine Link up! Right up my street! Well I really have a hard time picking favourites but I do love these ones. Head over to Bella's to see some shiny shoes!
Wool and Silk Velveteen Paisley Jacket: Carven; Lace blouse: Chine; Embroidiered Organza skirt: Karen Millen; Wool turtleneck: Cos; Tights: Max Mara; Burgundy Suede Shoes: D&G