Stunning Alternative girl posing in a Tobi Hannah Illusion Wedding Tea Dress 50s inspired

Tea-Length & Retro 1950s Wedding Dresses

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.

50s fifties tea length dress by vivien of holloway


Stunning 1950s style bridal gown by Vivien of Holloway

Tea-length styles

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.

Tobi Hannah Illusion Wedding Gown

Tobi Hannah Goddess and Julianna Wedding Gowns

Ruche Bridal Gowns

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 figures look 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.

Justin Alexander Bridal Gowns 2013 Collection

Above, gowns from Justin Alexander 2013 Collection, left style 8632, right style 8650

Romona Keveza Spring 2013 Bridal Gowns

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.

Jemma & Harry's Real Wedding at South Farm

Jemma & Harry's Real Wedding at South Farm

Jemma and Harry’s Real Wedding.

Where to find tea-length dresses

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.

BHLDN Lively Chevrons Bridal Gown

Above, Lively Chevrons gown by BHLDN

Whirlwind and Floral Artwork Bridal Gowns by BHLDN

Above left, Whirlwind by BHLDN, right, Floral Artwork by BHLDN

Afternoon Social Bridal Gown by BHLDN

Above, Afternoon Social gown by BHLDN

Share the love

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.

Discuss this and any other subject you want to with hundreds of brides and brides-to-be in the Confetti forums!

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