Stylish and sophisticated, the Victorian Tea Gown is a garment with a rich history. This elegant item was both fashionable and functional, as it allowed women to show their style while relaxing within their homes.
What is a Victorian Tea Gown?
The Tea Gown rose to popularity in the Victorian Era, when women often entertained visitors be serving afternoon tea in their parlors. This tradition of the late 1800s was incredibly important and required women to look their best. With that said, they also wanted to feel relaxed while enjoying conversation within their own home.
Traditional gowns during the Victorian Era were structured and heavy, often featuring tightly tied corsets and layers of heavy fabrics. The Victorian Tea Dress, however, gave women the opportunity to look fashionable without feeling restricted. These formal dresses were worn within the home and didn’t require uncomfortable undergarments, letting women feel at ease.
What Did They Look Like?
Victorian Tea Gowns closely resembled Regency Gowns, which featured empire waistlines and flowing, pleated skirts. These dresses also usually included long trains that draped delicately and had a bustle shape. While it was common for gown of this era to be manufactured form opulent, rich fabrics, Tea Dresses were lighter weight and much more comfortable.
These dresses, however, still maintained trends that were iconic of the era. They often included sleeves that extended to the wrist as well as layers and embellishments that gave them a highly detailed and decadent design. While more comfortable, they were still incredibly fashionable and aligned with the popular fashions of that time.
How Did They Evolve?
The Victorian Tea Dress became much more commonplace during the subsequent Edwardian Age. Women began wearing these more relaxed styles around the home more frequently, enjoying their luxurious but comfortable appeal. In the early 1910s, Tea Dresses had the same relaxed shape but were starting to become appropriate for wear in casual settings outside of just afternoon tea.
In the 1920s, these tea dresses were very much in vogue. For the first time ever, women during this era were allowed to wear relaxed styles outside of the home. These light and airy dresses were ubiquitous in the Roaring Twenties, and were perfect for afternoon gatherings and garden parties. Women paired them with a cloche hat or a strand of pearls for a look that captured the style of the era.