The Long And The Short Of Tea Length Dresses

by | Fashion Wisdom, Wisdom


Melanie of Silver Sixpence
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Image by Salt Studios via Kristen & Roxley’s Vintage High Tea Wedding Gown by Silver Sixpence

What exactly is tea length? I hear you ask…  Well the definition of a tea length is a skirt or dress that has a hem that finishes above the ankle but below the knee and in the past has also been known as a midi or prairie skirt.

This style of dress has been in and out of fashion in previous eras, however it was in the 1940s that the Tea Skirt, otherwise known as the midi reached it’s peak of popularity appearing in the design of almost all of women’s everyday outfits. By the 1960s it then started to become outdated as the fashionable hem length began to shorten again.

As with everything in fashion, styles come and go and tea length skirts are now back and as big as ever including in bridal fashions. In the 1940s/1950s despite the popularity among day wear and cocktail wear for a tea length hem, the majority of brides still chose a traditional floor length gown. Today some modern day brides are choosing a fun, fuller and shorter length gown as an alternative to the long floor length ball gown.

Image by Anitra Keogh via Emily and Dave’s Trentham Garden Wedding

A tea length gown really does flatter almost every figure including both shorter and taller girls. When I create my tea length vintage inspired gowns I generally find that the mid calf length is the most flattering. Although most people would cringe at the thought of a hem finishing at the widest part of their legs, as the majority of tea length skirts are also very full and often worn with a petticoat, it really is quite flattering.

The other fabulous thing about choose a tea length gown is that the shoes become a huge feature of the outfit and it gives brides an opportunity to show off a pair of really stylish heels or even add a splash of colour. Although flat shoes can be worn with a tea length skirt it is always my opinion to select a pair of shoes with at least a slight heel as it can add definition to the calves and really changes the posture of a bride.

Image by Debs Ivelja Photography via Ciara and Drew’s Retro Polka Dot Wedding

When deciding on a more straight design in a tea length skirt I would recommend selecting a hem length that finishes in a more narrow part of the leg than the middle of the calf unless you have super skinny legs.  Generally it’s best to opt for a hem line just above the calf or just below it, where the leg is starting to narrow and certainly team it up with a pair of heels.

Some brides feel that a tea length gown is less formal than a traditional floor length gown, which is somewhat the case but in my opinion it can really come down to the  fabric choice and accessories. To make a tea length gown more formal brides can select a sheer organza over the skirt or even a fine lace overlay for the entire dress and team it up with some spectacular jewellery.

Image by Daniel K Cheung via Emma and Justin’s Sydney Library Wedding

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Ms Gingham says: As a shorter gal with pudgier knees I can say that I’ve always found this length to give valuable height! With the popularity of vintage styling this type of gown can fit in beautifully!

Melanie from Silver Sixpence says: “I really love couples who include a lot of personal touches in their day to make it truly special and meaningful to them, such as choosing to get married on their grandparent’s wedding anniversary, using pieces of lace in the bride’s gown from a family heirloom gown, all the little hand made pieces that couples create themselves or taking the time to write quirky personalised vows.”

  • Weekly Blog Roundup | Polka Dot Bride says:
    November 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

    […] 2.Jewellery Wisdom ~ How To Select A Beautiful Diamond – Part 2 Diamond Colour 3.Fashion Wisdom ~ The Long And The Short Of Tea Length DressesThis Week On Polka Dot MadePolka Dot Made is your source for all things handmade including weekly […]

  • Kathy says:
    April 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    If I ever marry again I would love my dress to be like Kristen’s Audrey inspired gown. Just perfect.



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