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Silvie Koang THE SURPRISE DRESS OF THE SUMMER: TEA DRESS Wednesday, July 24, 2013 Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large Early indications were that this summer would be the season of the spaghetti strap sli... 5

THE SURPRISE DRESS OF THE SUMMER: TEA DRESS

Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Early indications were that this summer would be the season of the spaghetti strap slip. Nods to Clueless and Courtney Love abounded on the catwalks and it is true that they're all over the shops. Doesn't every girl in the country now own an ASOS/ Topshop cami? But cast a gaze over the forthcoming AW13 trends as well as the recently released Resort collections and the spaghetti strap looks set to hang around a while longer.

Tea dress on the SS13 Bottega Veneta catwalk (style.com)
Spaghetti straps in The Row Resort '14 (style.com)
When we look back on this Summer in years to come, the two big events which are likely to come to mind will be 1. the heatwave 2. the royal baby. And in that no.2 scenario, the humble tea dress has played a not insignificant role. As the world grappled for any smidgen of news possible following Monday night's announcement of the new Prince's birth yesterday, one of the first "big" stories was the arrival of 2 members of Kate and Wills' entourage. One of them, a young blonde who could easily just have been a friend you were meeting at the pub, was wearing a bright red tea dress covered in overblown poppies. which looks very much like one Topshop had earlier in the year. A few hours later,  websites and news channels had a new thing to talk about in the arrival of Kate's parents. Her Mum, Carole, wore a ditsy floral patterned Orla Kiely tea dress. Fast forward to the big event of the day and Duchess Kate herself emerged from the Lindo Wing, babe in arms, wearing cornflower blue spotted silky dress, especially designed for the occasion by Jenny Packham.

DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TEA DRESS

A Royal aide begins the tea dress proceedings (via dailymail.co.uk)
Carole Middleton in her Orla Kiely dress (via dailymail.co.uk)

Kate's Jenny Packham dress (dailymail.co.uk)
Obviously, Kate and her clan are a pretty specific community who are probably more likely than many to veer towards a tea dress but those will surely be the photographs which define this Summer? The tea dress common denominator might not have seemed so significant had there not been a bit of a build up over previous months in other areas of fashiondom; Emma Watson wore a gorgeous black and pink one just last week while the likes of Katie Perry and Rachel Weisz have been seen in the Bottega Veneta versions which were one of the most memorable dresses from the SS13 shows.

Katy Parry in Bottega Veneta (via fashionbombdaily.com) 
Rachel Weisz in a tea dress by Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta (via redcarpet-fashionawards.com)

Emma Watson in her pretty tea dress (via dailymail.co.uk)
The curious thing about a tea dress is that there is no hard and fast shape to define them. They can be gathered or tied at the waist (like Carole's and the Bottega Venetas) or have an empire line, like Kate's. Some have quite a tight, 1940s silhouette while others flare out  over the hips. Somehow though you know a tea dress when you see one. There is usually some frilling or gathering somewhere and the fabric is silky and prettily patterned. It is probably cut on the bias (one thing it has in common with slips).  Tea dresses are very feminine and recall mid-century dressing. If you were going out to afternoon tea in the countryside, a tea dress- as its name suggests- would be a no-brainer. And the final bonus, even if we buy into tea dresses as the the item for this Summer, they definitely won't look out of place for many more to come.
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