We all know that there is nothing that us ladies like better than a good cup of tea - in fact, it is seen by some as a miracle elixir that can solve any ill and instantly make any day better! Whether it be a bump on the head, or a broken heart, a prescription of a good hot cup of tea can cure all ills. With this in mind, it is no wonder that we Brit's are a tea-loving nation, and an entire culture has sprung up around this humble brew.

The origins of the easy to wear floral tea dress is closely linked to the rise in popularity of Afternoon Tea. The tradition of this great British pastime was believed to have been started by the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Marie Stanhope, in 1841. The mealtime traditions at this time were that lunch was served at midday, and the evening meal (or dinner) was not served until 8 or 9 pm. The Duchess clearly disliked having to wait such a long time between meals, and so began having tea and little treats brought up to her room at about 4 pm.

People have always been fascinated by the Royals, and when word got out about the Duchesses tea habit, the idea soon swept through the upper classes within the UK, and developed into ladies dressing up in their finest dresses and visiting each other to have a good old chat over a cuppa - not at all dissimilar to what happens today!

So, with the advent of this new social craze, a new wardrobe was needed - and this is where the vintage tea dress comes in. Etiquette books, which were very popular at the time, devoted entire chapters to Afternoon Tea and the type of vintage tea dress that should be worn at the occasion.

                                                

                                                                  Retro Turquoise Floral Tea Dress

The floral tea dress, therefore, began life as a garment that was simply designed for informal entertaining within one's home. The main design features of tea dresses are that it had unstructured lines and was easy to put on. They were usually made in a lightweight fabric for added comfort. The dresses were not worn with corsets, obviously, and so were a form of liberation for women, and a starting point for a more relaxed style of women's clothing in the future.

The tea dress has altered in style over the course of history, to fit in with the times and has become shorter as hemlines have risen. But the basic loose bodice and fitted bust still hark back to the original Victorian style. The beauty of the floral tea dress is that it can be worn with chunky heels and a tailored jacket for work, and at the weekend dressed down for lunch with friends by pairing with some cute plimsolls and a denim jacket.

For a wide range of vintage style clothing and floral tea dresses, please visit our site at www.littlewingsfactory.com

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