Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: A Southern Girl's Guide to Teas and Soirees
By Betty Castleberry
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I wish she would have consulted me about her clothing choice first, but she didn’t. In fact, she grabbed me as I came in the door and gushed, “Cassie, don’t you just love my little black dress?”
The smile on my face was not genuine as I told the teeniest little white lie. I caught a glimpse of my best friend Lu Anne standing by the canapés. The look on her face said, You poor baby. I feel your pain.
Actually, there wasn’t anything wrong with Joyce’s dress. It was just totally out of place for a tea.
Because I don’t ever want to be embarrassed like that again, I have purchased a number of copies of The Southern Girl’s Guide to Teas and Soirees. It is my goal to spread them as liberally as honey on warm biscuits. There won’t be a doctor’s waiting room in the county that doesn’t have one. In fact, I’m willing to do the right thing and share a few of the finer points with you now.
First of all, let me say there is a difference between a tea and a soiree. Big difference. Huge. From Fort Worth to Jacksonville, teas are held in the afternoon. No self-respecting southern girl would ever host a tea after 6:00 PM.
Proper attire for a tea is a nice little sheath in a pretty pastel or jewel tone color. Be careful with red. While it’s not forbidden, red can get a southern gal in a world of trouble if her personality can’t carry it off. The one rule that is carved in stone is to never, ever show any part of your bosom before dusk.
Gaudy jewelry has no place at a tea. Discreet little two or three carat stones are fine in a brooch or necklace. The exception to this is diamonds, of course. Any size diamond is acceptable, and even desirable, to wear. If a southern girl is over thirty, it’s time to put away her sorority pin.
Shoes can be wedges or low-heeled pumps, but spike heels are completely out of place in the afternoon. We southerners believe there is a reason for the rule that states no white shoes should be worn after Labor Day. The reason has long been forgotten, but we stick to it anyway, because it is tradition, and that is what the south is all about. Brides, of course, are exempt from this rule. Open toes are fine, as long as your pedicure is fresh. There is nothing more disgusting than sipping tea next to someone whose toenail polish is chipped, unless it is seeing the Braves lose to the Mets.
By the way, the tea I’m referring to is iced tea; sugar-shocked, steeped in the sun, iced tea. Girls in the south don’t care if hot tea is served at northern teas. It’s cold up there. Self-explanatory, don’t you think?
Soirees differ from teas because they are evening, although perhaps early evening, affairs. They almost always have a purpose such as art exhibits, or greeting the governor. Don’t let anyone convince you that soirees can be casual. Any good southern girl knows better. Wearing black to a soiree is fine and in some cases, expected.
A southern girl must exercise her creativity, though. She doesn’t want to blend in with all the other little black dresses. She must stand out without crossing over into Tacky Territory. Although most southern girls have a tiara or two left over from a beauty pageant win, they shouldn’t be tempted to wear them.
I believe I’ve made my case for my mortification when my cousin came to a tea dressed in black. Further elaboration is unnecessary.
In case you think this all sounds a bit snobby, let me remind you of one cardinal rule all southern girls live by: the difference between snobs and well-bred southern girls is the Mason Dixon line.
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