The Londoner's Guide To Wearing A Tea Dress—Without Grandma's Pearls

We know, we know. Once again, those promises of a “British barbecue summer” have gone unfulfilled, and that tea dress you scored at the start at the season remains in your wardrobe, collecting dust.
You’ll no doubt be chuffed, then, to learn that there’s hope for the little frock yet. The vintage-inspired tea dress has major staying power for winter, acting as a flirtatiously feminine counterpoint to the season’s hard-edged leather and military trends and proving to be versatile enough to take you from day to play — to your favourite nightspot.
Whether partnered with a classic blazer and specs for the boardroom, sleek sportswear for the weekend, or killer heels and a biker jacket for the club, the tea dress is more than ready to break out of its granny-chic garden party roots.
So go ahead, click through for our three exciting new takes on this style essential.
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For Work – Add polished elements—including a sleek bag in this season’s much-adored oxblood hue—to keep your tea dress from reading too girly. Opting for a print that’s graphic but not overly playful will also win you style points at the office.

Clockwise from the top left: Cutler and Gross 1016 Black Glasses, £295, available at Cutler and Gross; Annie Greenabelle for Topshop Tea Dress, £52, available at Topshop; Joseph Wool Jacket, £375, available at Net-A-Porter; 88 Rue du Rhone Rose Gold Diamond-Set Watch, £595, available at Selfridges; Carvela Kurt Geiger Aubrey Suede Heels, £95, available at Kurt Geiger; Sophie Hulme Burgundy Square Buckle Tote Bag, £495, available at Start London.
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For A Night Out – Just because you’re not wearing a painted-on body-con doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of sex appeal. An edgy biker jacket, smattering of studs, and pop of colour take your tea dress — perfect for twirling on the dance floor, BTW — into night-owl territory, while gold statement jewellery and a stroke of cat-eye liner are guaranteed to up the foxy quotient.

Clockwise from the top left: Dinny Hall 22K Gold Vermeil Almaz Pendant Necklace, £185, available at Liberty; Christopher Kane Crepe Biker Jacket, £990, available at Matches; Annie Greenabelle for Topshop Tea Dress, £52, available at Topshop; MAC Glamour Daze Fluidline in Little Black Bow, £15.50, available at MAC; Aldo Soun Zip Side Pointed Ankle Boots, £80, available at ASOS; Aila Spike-Me Clutch, £240, available at MyWardrobe.
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For Play – The weekend calls for a sporty twist on the tea dress, with on-trend leather details thrown in. Keep it casual in a hooded bomber, with leopard-print high-tops and chunky socks for extra punch. A slouchy beanie, stack of friendship bracelets, and leather satchel, meanwhile, strike the right balance between eclectic and athletic.

Clockwise from top left: YMC Gee Pom Hat, £76, available at Goodhood; Francis Leon Pushrod Fleece and Leather Bomber Jacket, £380, available at Matches; Annie Greenabelle for Topshop Tea Dress, £52, available at Topshop; Vans SK8 Hi Reissue Snow Leopard Exclusive Trainers, £57.99, available at Office.