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Last updated:24 nov 2011/csb

Clothing worn at Afternoon Social events
at the Newport Vintage Dance Week
a guide to what styles of dress might be seen at the Newport Vintage Dance Week

by Patri and Barbara Pugliese and Katy Bishop

Teas and afternoon social events at Newport

Newport Vintage Dance Week afternoon events have no specified period, ladies and gentlemen should feel free to wear clothing from whatever decade they like best (even modern). Also, the level of formality of dress varies by event, usually becoming more formal as the week progresses. The clothing worn ranges from clothing worn at dance classes (if time is tight) and modern outfits, to perfectly reproduced period ensembles.
The following are descriptions of events one might encounter during typical Newport week, and what we have seen attendees wearing. As the exact schedule changes from year to year, please check the current schedule for information on what is scheduled for each day. New attendees should know, as we hope past attendees have learned, that while excellence of dress is admired by many, this is not considered to be an important goal of the dance week and there is no particular reason why any given attendee should do more in this area than make a good attempt to fit in more or less with the theme of the day.

Afternoon Events

Usually the Teas earlier in the week, which we might simply call Afternoon Tea, are less formal and meant as a venue for dancers to relax and socialize. Dancers are welcome to come straight from class and enjoy a cup of tea in their modern dance clothes, although there will always be some individuals wearing period clothing at all the teas.

For the Mansion Tour most ladies dress in period styles (often with an eye towards recalling the era of the mansion's heyday), though modern clothing is welcome. Be aware that you will be touring a house, often in tight quarters so a large hoopskirt or bustle might overcrowd fellow tourists.

The Bathing Beauty Tea was introduced in 2003. It is an opportunity to wear (and perhaps even swim in) a Bathing Costume of whatever Era you prefer (even modern). There is a lovely stony beach on campus, so bathing shoes are recommended. For those less aquatically inclined, period day wear is also popular; this is another fairly casual tea, so dance or modern clothing is perfectly acceptable

For a Seaside Tea Dance you might want to wear something nautical, with a straw boater hat and large parasol for a stroll along the shore or on the Cliff-Walk. You might also wear a period bathing costume and dip your toes in the Atlantic.

The last Tea of the week is also the most formal. We suggest you save your most elaborate outfit for this tea. At this event almost everyone will be dressed in period style outfits sampling the lavish array of petite fors and teas or playing a relaxed game of croquet. We do ask that shorts and t-shirts not be worn at this one event if possible.

Games Day (often held at The Astors' Beechwood Mansion in the past) is an event which might call for a sporty period outfit, one in which you could play croquet, or toss graces hoops, and perhaps eat a picnic lunch on the lawn.

What period style should I choose?

The usual Dress Eras we have seen represented at the Dance Week's afternoon events have been as far ranging as 1800 through 1930's. The most popular are those from the mid 19th Century (1850's and 1860's), bustle era (1870's and 1880's), the late 19th Century (1890-1900), and the early 20th Century (1910-20's). You may wish to look at some of the pictures from past Newport Vintage Dance Weeks to see a variety of period dress styles worn at tea.

For information on day dress of the 19th and early 20th centuries please visit the Period Day dress reference page.

P.O. Box 9, Nahant, Massachusetts 01908
phone: (617)  819-4283