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Art of Style

SS20’s super-chic tea dresses

Striking the perfect balance between pretty and practical, the new season’s covetable tea dresses are a closet staple

Fashion
On the runway: Kwaidan Editions (shirt dress), Loewe, Tory Burch, Lela Rose

A mainstay of the spring/summer collections, the classic tea dress might be a bona fide closet staple, but it’s rarely considered a trophy piece. However, all that has changed this season, as designers across the board reimagined this playful yet endlessly wearable style.

First popularized in 19th-century Europe, the tea dress became a fast and firm favorite thanks to its simple cut and light, flowing fabrics – and owes its enduring popularity to its sense of ease. Playing up to its vintage connotations, New York-based brand Lela Rose’s 50s-inspired take on the tea dress features a gently cinched waist and classic floral print, while London label Kwaidan Editions went for a more utilitarian ’40s-style shirt dress. Elsewhere, designers including Tory Burch and Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson served up decidedly modern interpretations; Burch’s dress doubles as outerwear, while Anderson used sheer fabric to put a sultry spin on this traditionally demure style.

The transitional piece par excellence (layer your tea dress under cardigans, blazers and long coats), its signature ditsy prints are not only ultra-feminine, they also provide interest in lieu of statement accessories – a chain necklace, subtle diamond rings and a pair of sunglasses are more than enough to finish the outfit. You can also elevate a tea dress with barely-there sandals, keep it pared-back back with box-fresh sneakers or give this feminine piece an edge in the form of chunky combat boots. In other words, a tea dress is satisfyingly versatile and the ultimate trophy piece.

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