On Saturday night, I was a guest at the Homewood Museum’s Harvest Frolick, an elegant dinner at a historic house museum on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University. The invitation said “black tie or period costume” and since I wasn’t about to get dressed in period costume, I decided to do a twist on black tie. My starting point was an old grosgrain top hat that my CEO had found stuck in the back of a cupboard at our offices.I whipped up a skirt of deep burgundy taffeta and a similar tulle strewn with sparkly bits and added a black cashmere sweater. I had some extra tulle, so I wrapped it around the hat to make it a little more festive!

I thought it was going to be chilly, so was going to add some motorcycle boots and jacket, but it was actually rather pleasant, so I just wore flats and took a burgundy cashmere shawl. We’d had nearly five inches of rain in the three previous days, and the event was being held in a tent, so heels were out of the question.

My partner-in-crime, David picked me up, and to my delight, he also had a hat on!
Homewood (2)
Homewood (5)

What you can barely see on my Bosom Buddy bag is the great skull and crossbones!It couldn’t have been more perfect for the evening and the event! And the grosgrain on the bag went perfectly with my topper!

When we arrived at Homewood, the last half mile via golf-cart,we were met by others, some sporting period costumes,

and others in black tie.

The museum had hired actors from the local Shakespearean company to meet and greet the guests, and in each of the rooms, there was either a docent or a musician.

In the parlour, we could see where the museum staff was conducting tests on the paint to determine the original finishes.

As we wandered through Homewood, we saw that many of the guests had dressed in period costume.

The back lawn was tented for the dinner and the dancing, and people took advantage of the break in the weather to stand outside for a bit.

David’s and my hats attracted a lot of attention and people loved trying them on.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation given to Museum Trustee, Aurelia Garland Bolton who has worked tirelessly on the boards of both the Museum and the University for many years. I’ve admired her grace and charm since I first met her when best friends, my brother and her son, were about 12 years old. She’s got such a terrific sense of style and she always looks effortlessly elegant and chic!She was shocked by this honour, and by the time they finished announcing it, we all had tears in our eyes and and an incredible sense of pride in what she’s done for these two institutions.

But she’s not the only stylish one in the family! Her husband, Perry, pulled together an ensemble in which all the pieces dated from 1909 – they were his uncle’s and he found them in a trunk in the attic of the house where they’d both lived.The most beautiful silk-satin breeches with buckles, black stockings, opera shoes, white tie and tails!He was moving so fast that I only caught one shoe standing still! Very elegant!

After the dinner,there was a demonstration of early 1800’s dancing, including an Irish jig that was far more sedate than any I’ve seen.

The finale of the evening was the cutting of the cake!

Yes, this is a cake! It was a rendering of Homewood House and it was very detailed. The curator of Homewood was the one to make the first cut into it, after a bit of a hesitation!

And it was delicious!

There was also dancing to music more contemporary than the Irish jigs, and I was delighted to see old friends Chick and Mike, in period costume, taking a spin around the dance floor!

Thanks to my friend Stiles for inviting me as his guest!It was a great party and raised some much-needed funds for projects at Homewood!

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Meg Fielding

Meg Fielding writes the local interior design and lifestyle blog Pigtown Design and is the past president of the Baltimore Architectural Foundation. She enjoys dual citizenship with the US and the UK.