I’ve been dressing in vintage styles for 5 years now, my love for swishy skirts, perfect curls and a crisp cats-eye wing ever-growing. Dressing in this way has given me an endless boost of confidence and an excitement to get dressed, replacing the common dread many face when having to consider what they should wear when they leave the house. For me, embracing vintage fashion has given more than just my wardrobe a new lease on life.
I tend to dwell in the 1950s, where the cinched waists and full skirts make me feel most at home, but embracing such an unusual style of dressing–by today’s standards–has also taught me that it’s good to shake things up occasionally with something different. For me, that tends to mean either slipping into a form fitting wiggle dress or winding back the clock a further decade to dabble in the styles of the 40s. Today, we’re looking at an example of the latter, by taking a spin in something that is a first for me, shockingly, even after 5 years of vintage dressing–my first ever tea dress.
Dress: Tiki Pretty 40s Tea Dress C/O Pretty Retro
Bag: KookiDeLou Marilyn bag
Cardigan: Navy MAK cardigan
Shoes: Gold strappy flats by New Look
Hair Flowers: Marsha Duo by Alternate Normality
I can’t really put my finger on why I’ve never been drawn to tea dresses before. It may be as simple as the fact that their skirts are typically less voluminous than the kind I generally prefer, but even so their advantages have always been plain for me to see.
They’re pretty low maintenance as far as dresses go, easy to slip into and rush out the door, without a lot of faffing, adjusting or large petticoats needed to do them justice. They come in a variety of colours and prints, extending their easy-going wear into the lands of vast versatility, especially when you begin to consider adding in layers such as cardigans to adapt to the seasons. They’re typically modest in the bust, designed to skim over the hips, and they make for great summer dresses.
This example from Pretty Retro scores aces in all those regards with extra advantages to boot, namely that it’s machine washable, resistant to creasing, and features some lovely design choices that just give it that extra little pop of style to set it apart. The Pretty 40s Tea Dress features a gathered bustline that’s pulled into a sweetheart shape by clever little fabric tabs at each side, framing the neckline beautifully, finished with a fabric tie at the centre bust. The flutter sleeves flatter and keep you cool, while the skirt drapes demurely, skimming and floating rather than fitting or flaring. The dress closes with a quality side zip that glides smoothly, with no waistband to cause that dreaded mid-zip-bump.
The Tiki print itself is super pretty–a rich navy blue background showcasing vibrant tropical flowers in varying shades of red set alongside criss-crossing teal foliage, pictures of this print truly don’t do the colours justice. The different tones within the print allow you to mix and match all manner of colours in your accessories and layer choices, providing many outfit options using this dress as a base throughout the seasons. In summer especially, though, this dress will shine. Cool and comfortable to wear, it will be a joy in hot weather. It’s also ethically made in Europe.
I asked for this dress in a size 18 and it’s an especially wonderful fit in the bust and shoulders. The waist is approximately 39 inches flat, with a little give, while the bust will accommodate up to 47 inches. As the sleeves are short flutter sleeves there’s no restrictive cuff to dig into large upper arms. The dress measures 41.5 inches from high shoulder point to the hem. The skirt isn’t cut for a voluminous petticoat and I didn’t wear even my slimmest one for these pictures, but it might be possible to sneak a very thin single layer petti under the skirt just for a little lift off the legs if needed.