High Tea and Hat Couture

Every day at the Drake Hotel on the northern tip of Michigan Avenue tea is served from 1:00 to 5:00pm. It’s a long-standing tradition and has hosted many a dignitary.  It’s just like something called “high tea”  would seem with whole leaf teas, finger sandwiches and delicate pastries, beautiful china and impeccable service.  And of course the requisite table of older ladies lunching with friends and exchanging gifts for a birthday celebration.  There is a harpist who plays everything from Mozart to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” done tastefully enough that you don’t realize you should be cringing at the corniness of such a song played in this setting.  On Fridays, they decided to shake things up a bit and feature local milliners (that’s hat makers for those not familiar with the term).  This is where I come in.  Yesterday I modeled hats at high tea.

My friend Jenny makes hats.  Those five words are woefully insufficient.  Jenny is an international award-winning milliner, whose hats are in stores throughout Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.  Each hat is a one-of-a-kind creation, made employing old-fashioned techniques and using vintage pieces from feathers to jewels to buttons.  She shops the world over (online of course) to source her goodies, especially since there are only two places left in the U.S. that sell the base materials needed to create a hat.  I’ll admit I’m biased and I own three of her lovely creations, one of which she made for my wedding.  But Jenny is a creative genius in her own right and is quickly gaining attention and recognition in the fashion world.  While hats may seem passé and a thing of the 30’s and 40’s, I think it’s a tradition that should be resurrected.  Far too often people don’t dress up to go out anymore, not even to high tea.  I’m sure once upon a time a gentleman would not have been allowed to dine at The Drake without at least a suit jacket, but yesterday jeans and tennis shoes seemed to be at least half of the wardrobe I saw.  Not the table of older ladies lunching of course. I’m sure they don’t leave the house without their pearls and upturned noses, but I digress. 

My fellow models and I straddled the two elements of the afternoon sipping tea and munching on finger sandwiches in between mingling throughout the crowd showcasing about 20 different hats, strutting to the subtle strings of a harp.  It was a quiet afternoon of style and luxury, one I highly recommend with or without  a hat.



Black & Magenta

Blue and Orange hand painted

Creme hat

Hat models & Jenny, the owner and creator of Forme Millinery (far right)

Palm Court Fashion Show






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