Art of Style

The best tea dresses for easy everyday polish

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

A versatile tea dress is a closet staple – whether you wear yours with sandals, sneakers or heels

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 fabric – and owes its enduring popularity to its sense of ease. Playing up to its vintage connotations, London label Self-Portrait went for a sensuous ’40s-style button-down silk dress, while Alessandra Rich opted for a floral design – complete with a gently cinched waist and an oversized collar. Elsewhere, designers including Altuzarra and Emilia Wickstead served up decidedly romantic interpretations that 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 – an investment watch, subtle diamond rings and a pair of classic sunglasses are more than enough to finish the outfit. You can also elevate a tea dress with barely-there sandals, keep it pared 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.



18 items

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown