Fabulous, flirty fifties style tea-length dresses are back and they make a statement like no other. If you’re looking for something different to the usual long, white dress then rock your wedding in this short, chic ‘retro cool’ style. Worried you don’t have the right shape for it? Worry not as there is a tea length-dress for every figure. Here are our favourite tea-length wedding dresses, where to get them and how to know which one is right for you.
Stunning 1950s style bridal gown by Vivien of Holloway
These are gorgeous feminine dresses from an age when women accentuated their curves and men took notice. Think Grace Kelly and the 1950s prom dresses from Grease with voluminous underskirts and fitted waists and that’s tea-length. The ‘tea-length’ refers to the hem, sitting just below the knee or just above the calf, but there are many different necklines, from halter-neck to sweetheart, to make every dress look different.
Tea length dresses don’t all have underskirts, they can skim the hips and fall into a neat line, creating a slim silhouette and a well-defined waist. Ideal for a more informal wedding and a nice way to add a touch of vintage without going too far back in time.
Gowns above, top three by Tobi Hannah: Illusion, Julianna and Goddess, and two below by Ruche
Find the tea-length dress for your shape
If you love the look but are worried you’re just not the right shape then think again. There is a tea-length style for every shape with just the right neckline and skirt and in just the right colour. Here are some tips for which style to choose:
Curvy, bosomy figureslook best in v-shaped necklines with a cinched in waist and a full skirt to accentuate curves. Add a shrug or bolero jacket to cover arms if you like.
Slim, boyish figures look best in Audrey Hepburn style high necklines with horizontal lines and shorter skirts to show off slender, shapely legs. Wear a padded bra to balance your hips if you like.
Above, gowns from Justin Alexander 2013 Collection, left style 8632, right style 8650
Above, wedding gowns by Romona Keveza Couture Collection Autumn 2013
Accessorising a tea-length dress
These distinctive dresses are best teamed with knock-out heels, ideally a 1950s peep-toe shoe with painted toenails. Coloured shoes with an ivory gown can look amazing or ivory shoes with a pastel shade of dress is different without being too much.
Small shrugs and bolero jackets look divine with this style of dress, as do shorter length or birdcage veils and fascinators. Simply add ivory satin gloves, some retro jewellery, red lips and a hand-held posy bouquet for the full effect.
Get the look
Jemma and Harry’s vintage 50s-style wedding celebration was held at the beautiful South Farm in Hertfordshire. Jemma’s tea-length ivory wedding dress looked uber stylish with peep-toe fifties heels as you can see below. See all the rest of this Stunning Fifties Style Wedding in all its glory here.
We love Vivien of Holloway and Candy Anthony’s 50’s inspired gowns. The oversized ribbons tied into statement bows at the waist, the floral corsages and layers upon layers of underskirts make these dresses, and the wearer, so ‘film star glam’. Alan Hannah, Charlotte Balbier and Leigh Hetherington all had tea length dresses feature in recent collections.
Above, Lively Chevrons gown by BHLDN
Above left, Whirlwind by BHLDN, right, Floral Artwork by BHLDN
Above, Afternoon Social gown by BHLDN
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Are you considering wearing fifties style at your wedding, or perhaps you already did? Tell us here or show us your photos. We always love to hear from you!
If you’re still looking for inspiration, you’ll find more gorgeous wedding and bridesmaids gowns in our supplier directory, and in our fashion pages under Dresses and Style.
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Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.