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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)

TITLE: A Southern Girl's Guide to Teas and Soirees
By Betty Castleberry
10/21/09


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It was unfortunate that my cousin Joyce wore black to a tea, bless her heart. The only explanation I have is that my cousin is from Baltimore and doesnít know any better. I know people from Baltimore are very nice, but theyíre just not southern, and that makes all the difference.

I wish she would have consulted me about her clothing choice first, but she didnít. In fact, she grabbed me as I came in the door and gushed, ďCassie, donít you just love my little black dress?Ē

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 canapťs. The look on her face said, You poor baby. I feel your pain.

Actually, there wasnít anything wrong with Joyceís dress. It was just totally out of place for a tea.

Because I donít ever want to be embarrassed like that again, I have purchased a number of copies of The Southern Girlís Guide to Teas and Soirees. It is my goal to spread them as liberally as honey on warm biscuits. There wonít be a doctorís waiting room in the county that doesnít have one. In fact, Iím 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 itís not forbidden, red can get a southern gal in a world of trouble if her personality canít 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, itís 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 Iím referring to is iced tea; sugar-shocked, steeped in the sun, iced tea. Girls in the south donít care if hot tea is served at northern teas. Itís cold up there. Self-explanatory, donít 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. Donít 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 doesnít 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 shouldnít be tempted to wear them.

I believe Iíve 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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This article has been read 716 times
Member Comments
Member Date
SherylAnn Heinicka10/22/09
Of course, being from the south, I chuckled! All of it is true. You given great guidance in a way only a Southern gal can - I can even hear the accent!
Charla Diehl 10/22/09
A cute and fun read for this northerner.
Lenda Blackmon10/22/09
Loved it! If there isn't really a book by that title, you should write it. Cuz we southern gals are in a class all our own. I think I'll go have a tall glass of southern sweet tea right now!
Loren T. Lowery10/23/09
Love the tongue-in-cheek humor of this piece and I could definitely feel and see this Southern Gal's "charm".
Ruth Brown 10/23/09
Loved it.I just need to move south of the Mason Dixon line!
Very clever and well written.
Myrna Noyes10/26/09
What a fun and funny piece that has left me totally enlightened about teas and soirees! :)

Alas, I am from the north and drink hot tea with no sugar, but if I'm ever invited to a tea given by a Southern lady, I will most certainly not wear a black dress, slacks, shoes, sweater, or jacket! You made your point, and I will never forget it! Excellent job! :D
Lisa Harris10/26/09
Being a Georgia girl myself, I loved your story! Made me want to run and put on my "Grits" t-shirt that means...Girls Raised In The South. Enjoyed your writing.
Mark Bell10/26/09
Loved the "Yankee, go home" ending. that was a nice touch. well told. even though it was more of an article, it had the feel of a story all the way through.
Joy Faire Stewart10/27/09
This was fun and loved everything about it. The humor is outstanding!
Mona Purvis10/27/09
Southern girl here, born and bred. Just love the restaurants around here who only serve sweet tea when tea is ordered.
This is just fun.

Mona
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/09
Delightful all the way through. It takes "one" to tell it. Indeed, this southern girl put her white pants and shoes away on Labor Day. As always, your humor would be hard to beat.
Linda Watson Owen10/27/09
Well, shugah, I'll meet you at the next Gah-den Club meetin'. Do promise to bring a copy of that wonduhful book! I must say, your writin' is as smooth and sweet as 'honey on warm biscuits'. God luv ya. (heehee! I couldn't help myself, my friend! You nailed the southern ladies soft charm and iron rules all at once! Great job! and oh, so entertaining. :-)
Diana Dart 10/28/09
LOL funny! "..., bless her heart." I was howling from that moment on. I'd never make it in the south if this is for real, but a soiree sounds like a fun party!
Laury Hubrich 10/28/09
Too cute:) I'm so glad I'm in the know now!
Jan Ackerson 10/28/09
So, so SO funny! Loved every word, and I can just hear it being read aloud in a Southern drawl.
Yvonne Blake 10/28/09
I'll have to remember this next time I travel that direction.
Carol Slider 10/28/09
I really enjoyed this one... such a humorous, yet natural (VERY southern!) voice. Delightful!
Seema Bagai 08/04/10
Thanks for the education on life in the South. I loved the humor in this piece. :-)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/04/10
Being a Northern girl myself I would have thought a little black dress would be perfect for any occasion except a wedding. Of course it does get hot in the afternoon in the South, so I probably wouldn't pick black anyhow. Probably my jeans and T-shirt would be frowned upon too?

Kidding aside, I loved your story and it was told with the perfect Southern accent. I'm not quite sure how you manages that but the voice in my head from the first line was in that beautiful southern voice.
Benjamin Graber08/05/10
LOL! Some of us from up north love the culture of the south, but would be lost if we lived there! :-)
Amanda Brogan08/05/10
HeHe! Cute! Great advice for any of us clueless Northerners about what to wear to a Southern tea ... or soiree. ;) I'm much better educated now.
Shirley McClay 08/05/10
LOL... this was delightful! I loved your MC and would be glad to meet her! The only reason I can think way it wouldn't place is that maybe it was a little light on topic. The black dress at the beginning and end but lots of other (fun) stuff included that made me forget that the topic was black.
Rachel Phelps08/17/10
The humor here is so easygoing and lovely, just like true Southerners. As a Texas girl, I totally get this and love it.
Beth LaBuff 09/06/11
I just love how these "older" challenge entries become so appropriate at times. What fun this was. Even though I grew up north of the Mason Dixon line, I didn't have a clue about the white shoes after Labor Day and trespassed in that respect once. :) I will try to retain this information on the off-chance I'm invited to either event. :) Love this!