The Origins of The Tea Dress or Tea Gown

 A tea dress or tea gown in it's simplest term is a dress that is comfortable to host or have tea in.  Characterised by unstructured lines and light-weight fabrics.  They gained popularity in the mid-19th century, a European development influenced by Asian clothing such as the Japanese kimono.  Tea gowns were still elegant but intended to be worn without a corset or assistance from a maid.

During the 19th century, They were only expected to be worn indoors with family and close friends during a dinner party, it was not appropriate for women to be seen in public wearing a tea gown.

The 1940s Tea Dress

Swayed by their comfort in the 1930s and 1940s women started wearing tea gowns in the day time to run errands, have tea with friends and casual afternoon parties.  They often had high necklines and floaty sleeves.  The shirt-waister or swing style dress are two of the most common styles of forties tea dress.  The Revival Socialite range includes the dress below which is a great replica forties tea dress available in three great shades.  We usually have a selection of original frocks but they are becoming increasingly difficult to find in good condition.  The fine fabrics that were popular during the forties can easily perish if not stored well.

 

 

The 1950s Tea Dress

Wartime clothing was fairly conservative because of rationing of natural materials. However, once the war ended in 1947 clothing designs took on what is commonly referred to as “The New Look”, championed by Christian Dior.

 

The 1940s and 50s style tea dresses make a welcome return to mainstream fashion every couple of years.  They suit all manner of occasions.  They can be spotted at the races, weddings, graduations. dinner dates and holidays.  Comfortable and flattering for most figure types it's no wonder they have remained so popular.  Our collection of original vintage and vintage-inspired ladies tea dresses are perfect for everyday wear or injecting some vintage vibes into your work wardrobe. 

How To Style A Vintage Tea Dress

Because tea dresses usually have florals or other printed fabrics plus features such as ruffles and gather detail in my opinion accessories are best kept simple.  In the summer they are so easy to accessorise with comfortable shoes, sandals, straw baskets, raffia bags and basic cardigans.  Here are a few ideas of how to accessories a tea dress similar to our powder blue Starlet dress.


Extend the wear of your tea dress by adding thicker tights, chunky shoes, a heavier weight cardigan, beret and gloves.  Here are some styling ideas for our Heathland green Starlet dress.  I love textured layers in Autumn such as tweed, tapestry and flock.  Our Starlet is a perfect blank canvas to really personalise it to suit your taste.