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Expert in vintage costume jewelry from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s & 1950s

Birthday Tea for Me

I love to celebrate my birthday. And I don’t limit the festivities to that particular day. My favorite way to observe my special day is to take afternoon tea with various close friends, spreading the celebration at least through the month of January. Afternoon tea is my favorite pastime, not just because I love finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, petit fours and tea. For me, taking tea is an experience to be shared with special people seated at tables set with starched linen cloths and fine china. Servers bring yummy food displayed on a tiered stand, and liberally pour hot loose-leaf tea and well-chilled champagne. The relaxed conversation with good friends is just as important as the rest.

Every five years, to commemorate a milestone birthday, I throw myself a party at one of my favorite tea rooms. Last year’s event didn’t happen because we were starting a home renovation project. I remember thinking at the time that I wasn’t in the mood then, but I would have my party when the basement work was finished. Or I could break with tradition and have it the next year. By the time the construction and clean-up ended, we were exhausted and in the first wave of the pandemic. Earlier this month on my birthday, we were (and still are) in lockdown. How to break the gloom that has set in?

An Alternate Celebration

Luckily, I live in a city where afternoon tea to-go is available. I ordered the food the day before and picked it up late in the afternoon. Two small shopping bags held boxes neatly packed with each course. The attention to detail was amazing – they’d obviously done this before. We were well-stocked with my favorite Assam tea and chilled champagne. We consumed everything that evening for dinner, eating on my favorite Art Deco tea china. While the food was delicious and the tableware was festive, the tea party wasn’t the same – no experience.

Break the Gloom by Musing

Although I missed my milestone celebration last year, I’m planning to have a tea party as soon as possible. I’ve picked the tea room, and I’m compiling the guest list.

The fun part for now is musing about what I’ll wear. While my attire to these events is typically casual chic – nice jeans, a jacket, and lots of vintage jewelry, of course – I think I’ll go all out for this one.

I’m picturing my ensemble, starting with dark-wash jeans, a navy print top, and my favorite navy jacket. I'll accessorize this outfit with this Crystal & Silver Necklace and Diamanté & Sterling Diamonbar Bracelet. Take a look at these sparkly Art Deco jewels from the boutique –they go with just about everything.

Crystal & Silver Necklace

Crystal & Silver Necklace

Diamonbar bracelet

Diamanté & Sterling Diamonbar Bracelet

To complement the Art Deco theme of these jewels, I’ll wear my navy straw cloche hat adorned with this diamanté brooch in the same style. This jewel is special because it’s a pair of clips mounted on a mechanism with a pin back. It can be worn as a brooch on a jacket, dress, purse, or hat (as shown in the photo above). You can also wear separate dress clips on your neckline, lapel, waist, or hat, for example. One clip on a chain or cord becomes a pendant. All three configurations are shown here.

Break the gloom with this versatile brooch


Trifari diamanté ribbon brooch

Trifari dress clips
Clips taken off Clip-Mate mechanism



A Lesson Learned

I’m sure we’ve all learned a lot about life during the past year. For me, the biggest lesson is never say ‘no’ to opportunity! As soon as we’re free, I’m having that tea party, visiting my favorite aunt and out-of-town friends, going to the New York Public Library (my happy place) to do research, and more. What opportunities did you miss in 2020? What are you dreaming of wearing out to your next social occasion?


Barbara Schwartz

Thanks, Dominique! Glad to meet you, too.

Dominique de Merteuil

Great article! I’m thrilled that I discovered your blog, and it’s all thanks to the Links a la Mode fashion roundup. :)

Dominique de Merteuil

Great article! I’m thrilled that I discovered your blog, and it’s all thanks to the Links a la Mode fashion roundup. :)

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