Author Archives: Susan

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.

What to wear to an Afternoon Tea

So in case you haven’t heard- In honor of Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday (and Maggie May Clothing’s 25th anniversary), we are hosting an authentic Victorian Era Afternoon Tea on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at the beautifully restored American Legion Hall in South Pittsburg, Tennessee! But what exactly is an Afternoon Tea anyway? And what should I wear?

Afternoon Tea for two at the Leonard Hotel in London

Unlike High Tea, which happens late into the evening hours and includes a hot dish, Afternoon Tea (or Low Tea) is reserved for an intimate gathering of friends with light refreshment including finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Because the length of time between lunch and supper was quite long, an intermittent course of finger foods and tea was served to stave off hunger- thus becoming what we know today as Afternoon Tea! (The term “Low Tea” has nothing to do with reduced luxury- but instead the height of the tables on which it was served!)

A Cream Tea Service for two

A less extensive version of Afternoon Tea is know as Cream Tea which consists of just scones and cream. On special occasions, a final course of champagne was served during Afternoon Tea, thus becoming a Royal Tea service.

Royal Tea Service includes champagne and is reserved for special occasions!

Regardless of whether you are attending an Afternoon Tea/Low Tea, a Cream Tea, or a Royal Tea, mode of dress is always semi-formal. Historically, being invited to attend Tea meant one would dress in Sunday best out of respect for the hostess. Long ago, before the emerging informalities ushered in by the post modern world, people “dressed for occasion.” Formality was part of the cultural norm and how one dressed, behaved, and spoke was directly tied to moral character and one’s upbringing. This is still a pervasive theme in America’s Southern culture today.

So this sounds like lots of fun… but what should I wear?

Full Historical

Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. This is the period we call The Regency Era (or The Georgian Period depending on where you live). This is the time period we often associate with Jane Austen (d.1817). It is known as The Era of Good Feelings. It is the same year Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, Alabama became the 22nd state, and Spain ceded Florida.

The Regency Period is recognized by its long, sleek, Greek and Roman inspired silhouettes. Free-flowing cotton gowns pulled in just below the bust were popular during this period. Simple, straight-forward gowns were offset by elaborate accessories! Short waisted jackets, shawls, bonnets, jewelry, hats, and parasols were all the rage!

Volare Digital Capture
“Court Dress of Lady Worsley Holmes worn at the first Drawing Room of George IV”
La Belle Assemblée,July 1820 
A lovely roller printed cotton gown c. 1820s

Men’s dress consisted of a set of close fitting trousers, shirt, waistcoat (sometimes 2!), cravat, and jacket. Accessories such as tall hats, walking sticks, and boutonnieres were very fashionable.

Image courtesy the V&A

When Victoria became Queen in 1837, she ushered in a new time period called the Victorian Era. This period lasted until her death in 1901. The clothing of this era consisted of corsets, tightly fitted bodies, full skirts, and (later on) bustles. The use of accessories did not diminish. Shawls, jewelry, and parasols were often used. Gloves became an important accessory during this period and were worn during formal and semi-formal occasions.

Dress c. 1840 Fashion Museum, Bath
Dress c. 1870s Kent State University
Dress c. 1890s House of Worth

Men’s fashions did not change considerably as time progressed and a respectable gentleman never went out without his trousers, shirt, waistcoat, cravat (later on necktie), and jacket. Even working class men wore all these garments. Hats, walking sticks, and umbrellas were typical accessories.

Prince Bertie


In the modern world, the term “Victorian” has come to be associated with “old fashioned” clothing that has a romantic flair. Long flowing skirts, lots and lots of lace, sheer fabrics, large hats, floral prints, pastel colors, high heeled boots- these are all images that come to mind. This is thanks to the Neo- Victorian revival that happened in the 1980s. This fashion trend has its foundations in the 19th century Victorian period and thus are all perfectly suitable for Queen Victoria’s Tea.

Dresses c. 1986 Laura Ashley
1980s Laura Ashley dress!

Hats! Hats! Hats!

If there is one garment that is “Oh- So British,” it is the hat! Large hats, small hats, fascinators, tiaras, capotes, outrageous hats! You name it! They wear it! And oh how they wear it with style!

Kate Middleton in a lovely Victorian inspired hat. Understated elegance is a signature of British style.
WINDSOR, ENGLAND – MAY 19: (L-R)Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

With that being said, we would prefer to avoid Gothic, Lolita, and Steampunk for this event. These are 21st century styles that (while I love) just do not quite fit the atmosphere we would like to create for this particular event!

Left= Neo-Victorian YES!/Right=Gothic NO!
Left= Neo-Victorian YES!/Right=Gothic No!

You can read more about the fashions of The Regency Era and The Victorian Era on our Fashion History pages! More about the event.

Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Menu

For your dining pleasure- We are proud to share our menu for Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Tea!

Please join us on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 2:00pm CST as we will be turning back the clocks to Victorian Era England! Join us for a fun afternoon of light refreshment, music, merriment, and of course TEA! in the historic Victorian era town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Event to benefit 2 selected children’s charities.

Food historians note Queen Victoria had a well versed palette and a distinct love for both the sweet and the savory. Mutton, potatoes, and Beef were most commonly seen on her menus as well as a variety of fish and an assortment of breads. Her favorite sweets consisted of sponges, wafers, biscuits (or shortbread cookies), drop cakes, Scottish tablet (a dulche de leche-type fudge), petit fours, pralines, almond sweets, pies, and berry tars (specifically cranberry) with creme. But perhaps my favorite of hers are the Langues de Chat (or Cat Tongues) which is an elongated shortbread dipped in chocolate.

I imagine the royal kitchen was a very busy place! And the royal garden diverse! The Queen advocated for fresh foods and discouraged ingredients out of season. The exception was pineapple- for which the Queen had a passion- and was thus grown year round in the Royal hothouses.

More fun facts and information about Queen Victoria can be found on on our blog. More about our event can be found here.

Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday Tea

Join us this May for a one of kind, true English Afternoon Tea Experience!

This year marks Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday and we are celebrating in Royal fashion!

On Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 2:00pm CST, we will turn the historic 1920s era American Legion Hall in the quaint little town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee into a true Victorian Era tea room!

Using Her Majesty’s favorite Afternoon Tea recipes, guests will be invited to taste a little bit of history at this one of a kind, one day only event! (We will be serving Queen Victoria’s original royal tea blend dating back to 1890!)

An event page has been created on Facebook and tickets are available for purchase online either via our mail in registration (save the convenience fees) or through Eventbrite.

Tickets are limited and all proceeds will go to benefit one of our local women and children’s charities. So grab your friends, family, little ones, or neighbor and join us. 

Suitable for children ages 5 and up. Gents welcome!

Check back regularly as we will be posting fun little tidbits of Victorian history, menus, tea selection, and a special surprise (Hint… it has to to with the royal wedding!)

1880s era Straw Flower Pot Hat

It’s all 1880s around here these days! This fun little “flower pot hat” is perfect for a breezy summer afternoon!

Made with the signature 1880s era squared off crown, an upturned brim adds playful charm. Trimmed in 100% plaid silk, this hat boasts elegance as well as whimsy. The color palette is an appealing array of earthy jewel tones with a little Colonial blue thrown in as contrast.

A trio of natural feathers adorns the center front for a little extra height. The crown measures 23″- allowing extra room for hairpieces and larger hairstyles. The hat body is lined in 100% cotton. This hat is meant to sit down onto the head just above the ears and is secured with a matching hat pin (included).

You can purchase this hat on our website and view all of our custom and ready made historical fashions at

1880s era Straw Bonnet

In between commissions, I made this lovely little straw 1880s era bonnet. The bonnet made for our recent 1880s era photoshoot was so much fun, I decided to create another- and this one is for sale on my website!

Reproduction 1880s era straw bonnet

Made from 100% straw, this bonnet is inspired by several different hats illustrations of the period. It perches cheerfully at the back of the head. It’s not too large, yet not too small to be unnoticed. The brim touches the back of the ears and moves upward into a rounded point at the center front.

Trimmed in teal and mint checked satin, it features mint accent braid and small paper and bead flowers. The interior brim is lined with delicate embroidered net lace to give an extra hint of delicateness to this sweet little bonnet.

I chose NOT to add ties to this bonnet as it is more of a hybrid hat-bonnet mix and does instead come with a matching hatpin. The interior circumference measures 21″ and works best with a mid level hair style such as a bun or braided hairstyle.

You can find this bonnet and all of our reproduction historical fashions for sale on our website!

First Snow

Snow is a bit a novelty in the American South. Large quantities are quite rare; however, even the lightest dusting can bring excitement beyond words. Our mountaintops are always the first to spy the flurrying of the cherished sky crystals. And with the falling snow comes a quietness as the world seeks to stop and enjoy each etherial flake.

Our third photoshoot, featuring the lovely Hannah and a modified version of our Harvest Bustle gown, attempts to capture this moment- the first unexpected (and perhaps only) snow fall of the season.

Our Harvest Bustle Gown (c. 1880s) is shown over Corset, skirt supporter, and 2 ruffled petticoats
Pausing for a cup of tea
We modified our original design by replacing the tucked center front panel with 2 rows of pleated ruffles. I was afraid the skirt would be quite heavy but it was the opposite! The light, crisp cotton held its shape beautifully! A simple velvet ribbon serves as a belt.
A sighting
First snow of the season!
Glad she brought her caplet and muff!

For more information about our Harvest Bustle Gown or any of our historical clothing, please visit our website at

Vienna Teng’s Gravity Dress

When I was just getting started as a serious designer, I was commissioned to make this dress by Fat Monster Films for Vienna Teng’s Gravity video. It was one of my first original designs and I still remember those gorgeous vintage 19th century jet buttons I stitched down the back. Seems like just yesterday but it was over 10 years ago! It was the first time I ever saw something I had made on an international platform. (Turns out it would not be the last!) It’s lovely to see the gown immortalized in this beautiful and haunting musical video. I very much appreciate people like Mark Johnson and his crew who gave me a chance in those early years. I am truly grateful!


Vienna Teng in her dress by Maggie May Clothing.

Introducing the Anne dress c. 1838

I am excited to announce the launch of our latest design- The Anne dress!

The Anne dress is a transitional style gown that dates to the late 1830s-early 1840s and features a loose fitting bodice with yoke, an open neckline, and a full ankle length skirt. It is based on an original gown dating to this period formerly in the Tasha Tudor collection. Delicate piped trim encircles the yoke. You can wear this gown over a chemisette for a more modest neckline or during cooler weather.

The dress buttons up the back and closes at the waist with a hook and eye. Our Anne dress is shown over a chemise, corset, and 2 extra full petticoats.

This gown is made up in one of our reproduction 1840s era cotton prints but would also be lovely in silk or semi sheer lawn. It is a very versatile silhouette and is flattering on all figures. Plus, it’s super comfortable to wear!

Thank you to the absolutely stunning Miranda for modeling our Anne dress!

For more information about our Anne dress or any of our other historical clothing designs, please visit our website at