Every little girl loves a tea party, from the cakes and scones to the bouquets of flowers and the coming together of her nearest and dearest — not to mention the tea. But a tea party wouldn’t be the same without a beautiful tea dress.
With a history as steeped in tradition as tea itself, the tea dress is the ultimate spring dress for fashion-forward little girls. In this post, we pay homage to one of the most enduring styles in both women’s and girl’s fashion and explore why spring is the ultimate season of the tea dress.
The Rich History of Afternoon Tea and Tea Dresses
The tea dress first emerged in the 19th century as the sartorial response to the latest trend of the time: afternoon tea. The craze for afternoon tea began in 1842 when Anna Maria Stanhope, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, started asking for a small selection of tea, sandwiches and cakes to be delivered to her room at four o’clock every day to prevent her stomach rumblings troubling her during the long stretch between lunch at midday and dinner at eight or nine o’clock. The trend soon caught on and, before long, every lady of leisure across the country would get together with a small group of friends to sip tea, wear fabulous frocks and have a good old-fashioned gossip.
The fashionable aspect of the pastime followed suit and the tea dress was born. Unlike the more rigid and formal gowns of the time, the tea dress was designed to be worn for informal entertaining in the home and around female friends. As a result, the dress was made with comfort and style in mind and used unstructured lines and light fabrics that were easy to move, dance, sit and eat in. It was out with the corsets and in with a more relaxed style.
The tea dress quickly became a fashion essential for stylish young women eager to look good while feeling comfortable.
The Tea Dress Today
Today, the tea dress has retained the same loose skirt, fitted bodice and feminine patterns of the traditional Victorian garment, but now they’re often available in a slightly shorter length that differs from the full-length affair.
They’re also favoured by fashionistas the world over for the warmer months of spring and summer, when the light fabric and comfortable yet stylish design makes them an easy choice for girly gatherings, afternoon teas and formal affairs alike.
If you’re looking for a kids special occasion dress or a luxury designer party dress for your little girl this season, look no further than the tea dress.
How to Find the Perfect Tea Party Dress for Your Little Girl
David Charles has a wonderful range of designer tea dresses for your little girl. Here are three of our favourites.
Pretty as a Picture in Our Ivory Floral Tea Dress
Exclusive to David Charles, our ivory floral tea dress is the perfect choice for a tea party or girly gathering. Available in a delicate ivory and pink colourway and featuring an enchanting floral print, this party dress pays homage to the feminine heritage of the tea dress with a thoroughly modern twist. With a polka dot embroidered chiffon overlay and an effortlessly chic A-line silhouette, your little angel will love the elegant fit that accentuates her figure and makes her feel every inch the lady of the house. To top it off, we’ve added an elegant sash bow, soft frill trimmings and cap sleeves.
Bounce into Spring with Our Ivory and Pink Peony Tea Dress
Capture the essence of springtime with our ivory and pink peony tea dress. Blooming with pink peonies, it’s a great choice for little girls who want to express their style with imagination and grace. The soft satin and ivory and dazzling fuchsia pink colourway are sure to turn heads, while the peony on the vine captures the spirit of the season. Complete with a ruffled bodice and in a lovely fit-and-flare style, this dress is a truly charming option for tea parties.
Go Bold and Modern with Our Ivory Summer Tea Dress
Don’t let the name fool you — our ivory summer tea dress is the perfect dress for carefree spring gatherings and tea parties. The bespoke designer floral print in a stunning array of colours puts a playful twist on the traditional tea dress and is sure to inspire and delight. With a full gathered skirt and double-frill shoulder detail, this frock is for little divas who are always ready to take centre stage.
Browse our full collection of darling tea dresses and throw your little angel a tea party to remember.
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