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Vintage style tea dresses to rock your own way today

September 20, 2019

Get yourself into some vintage style tea dresses that speak to your personal style and rock these classic looks for tea, coffee and every other event on your calendar!


Vintage style tea dresses are not just for high tea! Wear these figure-flattering vintage style silhouettes in all their various options like a floral tea dress or a print dress with a retro design to show your fashion savvy and amp up your personal style for every occasion. There is no place a vintage style tea dress cannot take you today!

Vintage style tea dresses and 1800s Women's dress fashions

1800s Women’s dress fashions

So, what are vintage style tea dresses anyway?


Vintage style tea dresses, also known as tea gowns, are midi-length dresses where the hemline falls between the knee and ankle, giving this style a modest yet very elegant look. This type of tea dresses are also based on the fit-and-flare silhouette, making them very feminine and flattering to all forms of the female figure.


If you don’t have an hour-glass shape, a floral tea dress or a print dress cut in the classic vintage style will give you the appearance of one, which is universally flattering to the female form.


Vintage style tea dresses came into fashion in the mid 1800s, usually made out of light, airy fabrics and worn for private, informal events. Formal events called for floor-length gowns, so the vintage tea dress was designed for less formal, more private affairs. This dress has stood up to the passage of time and evolved through the decades to cater to each new generation’s vintage style fashion aesthetic and needs.

Vintage style tea dresses and fashionable Men and Women in front of Harrods 1909

Fashionable Men and Women in front of Harrods 1909

The evolution of tea dresses


Vintage style tea dresses have evolved from their originating years into a wide array of fabrications, patterns, designs and looks, while staying true to the length and style of the original vintage style. You now have options for a floral tea dress, or a print dress in either retro or modern patterns, suitable for a variety of occasions.


This huge selection of options offers up a whole range of vintage tea dresses possibilities for the fashion-savvy woman of today.


Designers today give us tea dresses in a variety of lengths too, while still keeping the hemline between knee and ankle. This casual-chic dress now comes in either vintage style or modern florals, prints and solids, with cap sleeves, spaghetti straps or sleeveless, usually with either a full skirt or an A-line cut.


There are even vintage style mini tea dresses that you can rock on the boardwalk or beach with flats or sandals.

Fabiana Semprebo models mid length Cynthia Rowley dress

Fabiana Semprebo models mid length Cynthia Rowley dress

Midi length

Midi length style tea dresses of vintage origin are so very versatile. Wear them in solids, prints or florals with kitten heels to work. Or dress them down with white sneakers, a denim jacket and a brown leather crossbody bag for weekend wear. And, of course, you can always dress up tea dresses with pearls, brooches and high heeled pumps for nights out on the town. Make the look edgy and current with a leather moto jacket to finish.


In 2007, Kate Moss designed a clothing range for Topshop that included vintage style tea dresses. These beauties were nipped in at the natural waist, with low necklines and higher-than-usual hemlines. They were hugely popular at summer music festivals and their vintage style combined with modern spins made them timeless.


Vintage style tea dresses are emblems of the demure-yet-stylish, casual-yet-chic, risk-taking woman. These vintage style gems provide a peek at slender ankles while still keeping the mystery intact. They show off an hourglass shape while covering up. And they come in so many styles and takes that you are sure to find one that epitomizes your own personal style and flatters your own body shape.

Lola Beer in afternoon dress, Tel Aviv, 1950

Lola Beer in afternoon dress, Tel Aviv, 1950

Why vintage style tea dresses will never go out of style


Vintage style tea dresses are unique fashion accessories because they combine the perfect form-flattering elements of the fit-and-flare silhouette with the versatility of your choice of fabric, print, sleeve length and hem length.

Whether you are short or tall, curvy or not, tea dresses are your best friend and can be customized to flatter your own unique appearance. The fit-and-flare look works with every body type and you can choose what works best for your arms, legs and personal preference in terms of sleeves or no sleeves, sleeve length and hem length. Then look for the embellishments you love, like belts, buttons and collars, to give you the perfect vintage style addition to your closet.

Woman wearing a tea dress standing next to her husband, 1938

Woman wearing a tea dress standing next to her husband, 1938

Where to rock your vintage style tea dresses today


Vintage style tea dresses can be dressed up or down for a myriad of occasions. Formal enough for weddings, dances and cocktail parties, they can also be casual enough for date nights, girls-night-out or daytrips for sightseeing, shopping and everything else on your calendar.


The ability of vintage tea dresses to fit every event in your life is what makes them such a popular, go-to fashion favourite across generations and across decades.


Day to Night
  • While originally intended to be worn during the day for semi-formal or casual events like tea parties or picnics, vintage style tea dresses in heavier fabrications and darker prints can rock your night-time look any day of the week. Go all-out retro with a pearl or velvet choker and kitten heeled pumps or amp up your streetstyle with a metallic-embellished leather jacket and Doc Martins to offset the sweetness of your vintage style floral tea dress.


Casual Chic
  • Casual Chic: rock your tea dresses on casual days with flat knee-high boots and a cosy sweater in cooler weather, or strappy flat sandals and a big straw sunhat on hot summer days. Or layer your spaghetti strapped floral tea dress over a classic white T-shirt and black Doc Martins or white high-top sneakers for a grunge-y 80s throwback look.


Chilly Day Looks
  • You can pair your vintage style dresses with leggings for a warmer, more casual-cool style, adding a cropped denim jacket up top to finish your winterwear look. Take your tea dresses for an autumn or winter spin with cosy cropped pullovers or tunic length cardigans, coordinated chunky scarves and knee-high boots. Or add opaque tights and ankle boots for a totally different look.


Shoe Variations
  • Today’s spin on vintage style tea dresses is all about pairing them with the right shoe for your occasion. Block heels, kitten heels, flats, sneakers or boots all work so well with this vintage style. Pick your shoe of choice to look trendy, retro, casual or street, depending on your mood and what you want your outfit to say about you.


Office Elegance
  • And for the office, wear your vintage style tea dressesin solid colours with animal print kitten heels and a chunky bead necklace, or in florals or retro prints with ballet or pointy-toed flats and a black choker – it’s all about one-and-done dressing.

Actors Natalie Wood and Tab Hunter arrive at the 28th Academy Award, 1956

Actors Natalie Wood and Tab Hunter arrive at the 28th Academy Award, 1956

Best places to find tea dresses


So, where to go to find your perfect vintage style tea dresses for every occasion? If you are into authentic, original vintage wear, visit your local thrift shop or your high street consignment store and you are sure to find a range of vintage style tea dresses to suit your taste and budget.


  • If you are looking for reimagined and modern takes on this vintage style, your nearest Topshop or Mango store will have options for you to choose from.  You can also check out Zara’s corner stores or online shopping site and don’t forget to visit ASOS and Other Stories online to see what they have on offer.


Lindy Bop
  • Then head on over to Lindy Bop’s online shopping site’s Tea and Day Dresses page,to peruse their collection of vintage style tea dresses and day dresses, simply perfect for daily wear or for injecting retro style into your day-to-night wardrobe.


You will find tea dresses with nipped-in waists, full circle skirts and form-fitting bodices that flatter every shape and size.Choose from a selection of polka dot, printed, floral or solid styles.


For an authentic spin on this vintage style, check out their very popular “Juliet” dress, which is made out of a sleek, flattering yet comfortable jersey fabrication. Or look for their “Ionia” dress which is their interpretation of a classic 50s vintage style day dress with cropped sleeves and an attached belt.

Lady V


  • Another great place to source your tea dresses is at “made in London” Lady V London’s, where you are going to find a lovely selection of very feminine, sleeveless fit-and-flare 50s vintage style tea dresses in polka dots, florals and prints that are full of whimsy and charm. The perfect silhouette combined with retro-timeless prints that are always flattering and go with everything you already own make for perfect vintage style tea dresses for you to choose from.


Vintage Dancer


  • Get some cool vintage style tea dresses at Vintage Dancer’s online shopping site’s Tea Dress collection, where you will find simple yet sophisticated vintage style tea dresses or the perfect floral tea dress for sunny spring and summer days.


Their airy floral fabrications or fancy afternoon tea party dresses in lace, tulle, swiss dot or chiffon harken back to vintage style and refined times when ladies who lunched took afternoon teas with family and friends.


Vintage Dancer offers you a selection of vintage style dresses from the decades ranging from the 1920s through the 1950s. The earlier decades saw this vintage style dress take the form of longer, more demure cuts, while the 40s style was all about the A-line skirt and loose sleeves. By the 50s, tea dresses had evolved into sleeveless dresses worn with short gloves, pretty hats and white shoes. Find all these decades and their styles at Vintage Dancer’s online shopping site.


  • Finally, do pay a virtual visit to Etsy’s Tea Dress page,  where you can browse through a huge collection of curated tea dresses at the world’s most imaginative global marketplace.  You are sure to find the perfect vintage style day dress that takes you from day to night and everything in between!



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