• Tara Deighton

The Tea Dress- Perfect Wedding Guest Style


With the start of wedding season, comes the start of much angsting and/or excitement for the wedding guest, if you are anything like me. What the hell am I going to wear? Simply being a guest at a wedding can be an incredibly expensive affair, once you factor in the costs of accommodation, travel, gifts and the all important wedding appropriate outfit. I've long thought that it would be great to invest in one stunning dress that you could wear to literally everything and look and feel amazing in it each and every time!

I think I may have the absolute perfect solution to this problem having found my ultimate hero dress! Say hello to the Tea dress!

A few of my favourite vintage Tea dresses and some style heroes rocking the look.

Generally a flowery affair, Tea dresses started their life as informal entertaining at home dresses, which for much of the 19th and early 20th century, seemed to involve taking tea at home or on perfectly manicured lawns. Hence the name- Tea dress. you wear it when drinking tea! But I find, you can wear it for just about any summer party, wedding or special occasion, whether drinking tea or not; I'm rather partial to rhubarb and elder flower gin cocktails myself but you can't beat a good glass of bubbly at extra special occasions.

The good news is this style of dress, which technically falls mid calf, is absolutely everywhere at this time of year. Also it flatters just about every shape and it doesn't seem to have an upper or lower age limit. The High St is full of cost effective versions but as a rule, I don't tend to shop here (You're much too likely to bump into your frock twin or even frock triplets at a party, and also there are too many ethical issues surrounding fast fashion production for me to feel comfortable spending my hard earned cash supporting it- especially when I can make my own!)

My round up of the best designer options include some modern interpretations of the classic Tea dress.

From L-R: Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Vetements, Anna Sui,

From L-R: Reformation, Attico, Adam Lippes - Source Net-a- Porter

You might feel a designer dress is too pricey, but if you work out cost per wear, it may be far more cost effective in the long run than you think. For example, the Anna Sui dress above costs £425 so if you have 2 weddings to go to, an engagement party, 4 summer garden parties and a couple of birthday bashes, cost per wear would be £47! You'll also get that dress out for special occasions in years to come and it can be styled up to be worn in the darker months. In the end, a bargain!

Another great thing about the Tea dress, is that it can be styled up in a multitude of ways, it just seems to suit almost anything! My personal faves, weather and venue dependent would be platform wedges or ballet flats, but I love the vintage lady above who is wearing the perfect little pair of tango shoes to go with her ruffle trim floral frock. You can still get some beautiful vintage Tea dresses from vintage fairs or Portobello market, but often they're teeny tiny and sometimes too delicate to get much wear from.

Another option is to have a dress made for you. I particularly love the thirties and forties as a source of inspiration for my designs and the Anna dress, the wraparound Bianca dress and the Lana dress are all great options.

The Lana dress- inspired by dresses worn by 1940's film star Lana Turner

The Bianca- for more about this dress, click here.

The Anna dress is my current favourite as it's super flattering for the curvier figure, works in a wide variety of fabrics and is super comfy! It looks brilliant with a tuxedo jacket or a vintage embroidered shawl. Or how about edging it up with denim or leather. I'll be wearing mine with wedge espadrilles and a denim jacket with a large silk corsage! I can't wait to sip champagne on a happy occasion in my hero dress and then dance the night away with friends and family.

I hope my love of the tea dress has given you some styling ideas for summer events this year and whatever you're celebrating, that you have a glorious and carefree time!

Tara x

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© 2020 Tara Deighton