A large group of women enjoyed tea in the stunningly decorated exhibition room at the Porterville Museum on Saturday.
Sparkling white tablecloths, colorful vintage teapots and a large variety of colorful antique cups and saucers with beautiful floral arrangements made a festive occasion even more special.
Along with the tea there were various crustless sandwiches, scones, scones, chocolate and vanilla lollipops and more tempting cakes on tiered trays.
Along with the brewed tea, there was a drawing of various items, from flower arrangements, a drawing by a well-known artist, glassware, etc.
Before the drawing, Frankie Feldman, who restored the fabulous collection of women’s dresses from the 1890s to the 1950s, spoke. She talked about the various vintage dresses that had been donated to the museum, the finesse of the fabrics, the incredible details and the tailoring of the mostly handmade, as well as for the size of the dresses.
At the start of the show, Porterville Historical Museum curator Susan Uptain encouraged the assembled women to continue drinking tea and eating as she introduced Feldman who curated the fashion show.
She thanked the museum volunteers and said, “a big thank you to Liz Faure for selling our raffle tickets.”
Feldman, who repaired and restored many of the vintage dresses in the exhibit, talked primarily about the size of the dresses. The woman wearing the 1890s dress had a waist of about 22 inches and was wearing a corset and underwear.
Feldman had a corset that he was able to show off to everyone, made with clips and laced up the back. There were extra ties on the sides to cinch at the waist to make an hourglass figure.
The clothes were so small. Feldman also said that in the 1890s women wore big hats.
There was a gorgeous 1910s long blue wool dress and tunic with stunning detailing and lace-up shoes, a brown riding habit with heavy fabric layers and a 1910s silk blouse.
After World War I, fashions changed, in 1920 women got the vote, and skirts rose, showing a 1920s blue silk velvet dress, with cream silk blouse, and blue silk waistcoat or overcoat.
Many of the dresses were made of velvet or silk, which were expensive fabrics at any time with gorgeous floor hats, often worn on the side. In the 20s and 30s, women cut their hair short, often in curls or bobs, sometimes in a boyish style. They also started painting their faces and the waist came down again.
Women even bound their breasts to make their figures appear tall and lean. Smoking and drinking became fashionable and then strappy shoes became popular.
Feldman showed the assembled women some photographs from the 1920s, talking about women who sometimes “cross-dressed” in the 1920s, or wore long dresses over pants.
She talked about flapper dresses with long, often embroidered fringes, but said they didn’t have one in the collection.
There was a multi-colored silk dress with a felt hem, with beads on the back. It would be worn with a long necklace and heeled, strappy or flat shoes.
Another light white linen dress with feathers looked almost like a wedding dress, or summer dress.
Hats and gloves became popular again in the 1930s, and the museum has a nice little collection of hats.
On display is a 1940s US Navy WWWII WAVES women’s service uniform made of blue wool. Feldman explained that during World War II all kinds of clothes were rationed, so designers or stylists came up with a Navy suit that was worn by a local woman.
There was also a 1950s cocktail dress made of diamond-print silk in cream, blue and lavender with a large flared skirt. It would be worn with a crinoline, or a layer of tulle blouse. Feldman said it would be worn with pumps or open sandals with gloves. She said that these types of dresses were normally worn by teenagers during the 50s.
During the tea party and fashion show, Feldman wore a bright black-and-white cotton dress that belonged to her mother, with a white quilted cotton jacket from the 1950s or early 1960s.
Everyone thanked Feldman for her fabulous presentation. It was so interesting that many did not want the fashion show to end.
“The museum events this year are wonderful. The tea had all my favorite things; good conversation, good food and a great program about vintage clothing,” said Shirley Hickman.
Her friend Joyce Freeman said: “It was just amazing. I was in the last one.”
Hickman mentioned that their spouses were part of the group that first brought the trains out to the museum at Christmas time.
“It was nice and cute. They put a lot of effort into organizing the show and the tea,” Margaret Stinson said appreciatively.
Karen Stover said the tea was beautiful and delicious and she thought the presentation was informative. “The decorations were beautiful and the table setting was lovely. Beautiful English china and vintage teapots.”
Kim Baumgardner said it was the perfect tea party with cakes and decor. And the vintage designs were fascinating, she said.
And the company was great, Teresa Harbin said.
Brigette Bonnet, who is the granddaughter of Frankie Feldman, talked about how her grandmother loved to sew and make Halloween costumes. All the onions and her daughter is working on a master’s degree in Costume Technology at San Diego State.
Everyone had a great time and everyone suggested people go to the museum to see the women’s fabulous collection of women’s costumes.