Many tea dresses have floral patterns and especially popular is the rose. The story goes that a lady’s rose garden was the only place where she could socialise freely with other ladies.  

As afternoon tea became popular, the best hotels started tea rooms and for the first time the Victorian ladies were able to meet outside of the rose garden or the confines of their own home without damaging their reputation.  As the tea rooms replaced the rose garden for a place to gossip, a rose theme developed in the decor and ladies started to adorn their bonnets with roses.

Main picture: Debenhams' Debut collection embraces the rose pattern with its purple and ivory ‘Gallus Rose’ prom dress with purple sash. Fabric: 100% cotton and 100% acetate lining. Price was £100 but on sale at £80.

A matching purple and ivory floral bolero is also available or go for plain purple satin to add contrast and match the sash on the dress.  Both priced at £40, but the floral is in the sale at £32.

Phase Eight goes for the rosebud pattern with its azure Tea Party dress and flattering V neckline and back. Fabric: 100% cotton with 100% acetate lining. Price was £130 but now in the sale for £91.

And if you like honey in your tea, try this warm honey coloured Tea Cup print fifties dress by . The dress is partly boned with padded cups to create a tiny waist. Fully lined with side pockets to keep your betting slips close at hand. Fabric: Italian silk cotton with vintage-inspired rose print. Price £425.

Wear with an ivory tulle underskirt to add extra volume. Price £40.

If the '50s full skirt is not for you, you can still opt for the rose print but in a more figure-hugging wiggle style such as Phase Eight’s green and ivory Betty dress. Fabric: 92% polyester with 8% elastane. Price was £95 now on sale at £71.25.

It‘s not all a bed of roses for the tea dress though – any flower large or small will do.

The tea dress (or the tea gown as it was originally called), gave the Victorian women another sense of freedom, it was the first time they started to wear a dress uncorseted. This was due to the afternoon teas starting at home with just family and close friends.  Without the corset the tea gown style became less constructed, and often took on exotic and oriental designs.

This Suzannah Chinoiserie Rose luxury tea dress has an oriental twist to its style whilst keeping the quintessential vintage English rose print. Fabric: 100% silk satin. Price £395.



Karen Grace is a Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for and fashion writer for 

She studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International.

For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on and
07787 800 390


Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there's a lot more to learn...

If you enjoyed this, try...