Lifestyle | Where to wear your vintage dress this summer

vintage floral dress with new look sandals

We’ve all got one lurking in our wardrobes. That vintage summer dress that just hangs there looking elegant. Mocking you, because it cost you more than a week’s pay and you haven’t worn it yet. Just that little bit too flouncy for wearing into town, yet not quite dressy enough for weddings or black tie events, it languishes there unworn. Don’t worry, there is hope for this flirty vintage summer dress. It shall go to the ball! In fact, there are some excellent places where you can absolutely wear this wardrobe item this summer.

The vintage dress: a staple item

In recent years, fashion has clamped down on flowery, flouncy dresses in favour of dresses that cling, slink or skim the silhouette. But where’s the fun in these styles? The drama? The romance? Luckily, vintage fans have clung steadfastly to the staple wardrobe item that is the vintage tea dress. Usually floral, sometimes with puffed sleeves, and always, always with an air of unabashed femininity, this dress is every girl’s best friend. It covers a multitude of sins yet is nipped in at the waist and gives you an hourglass figure. It’s the dress you always wanted to wear as a little girl, only your mum kept buying you hideous C&A numbers instead. It’s the dress you imagine yourself falling in love in, or sipping Pimm’s in, surrounded by a field of fragrant wild flowers. Yup, that dress.

Why vintage dresses are tricky

Put simply, this type of dress has a lot to live up to, which might be one reason why you still haven’t worn it (sorry, the ten times you’ve paraded around your bedroom in it whilst singing into your hairbrush don’t count). For these very reasons, it can be difficult to pull off without looking like you’ve overdone it. It needs to be worn nonchalantly, almost-but-not-quite ironically, and with a touch of flair. Even more importantly, you need to pick the setting for this dress wisely. Wear it to the wrong place and it will be lost on its beholders. And after waiting all summer to wear it, the last thing you want is an anti-climax. Lucky for you, that won’t be a worry! The following settings should complement your dress perfectly this summer, British weather permitting.

Afternoon tea

Head out to afternoon tea in this dress and you’ll feel like a million dollars. Find yourself a cafe with a vintage theme and your dress will feel even more at home. Sip from vintage china teacups and nibble on sponge cake for good measure.

The cricket

Cucumber sandwiches, anyone? The cricket, that quintessentially British summer event, is one place where you’ll fit right in with a vintage tea dress. Whether you’re sunning yourself on the village green with your friends or betting on the cricket over a picnic, summer florals are going to go down a treat. If the sun gets too much you can accessorize with a wide brimmed hat and shades.

Your local beer garden

For a Sunday afternoon in the beer garden, a vintage dress works just fine. Anything more rowdy, of course, and it is likely to get wine spilled down it or worse, catch the end of a passer-by’s cigarette. However, for civilized day time drinks you simply cannot go wrong with this flirty dress. Dress it down with a pair of pumps and you’ve nailed it.


Game, set and match! Wimbledon is one of those big summer events where you want to look your best without resorting to anything too glitzy. You want a look that’s stylish yet suitable for the daytime. Solution: the vintage floral dress. Pop it on with some smart court shoes and a clutch, and away you go. Some simple, understated jewellery will go down a treat too.

A trip to the seaside

One of those days out that defines the summer holidays. The seaside is full of opportunities for people watching as you strut your stuff on the promenade. You can dress down your vintage dress for the seaside easily – just add a pair of flip flops and a beach bag et voilà! The perfect beach chic look. Bonus points if your dress is a sorbet shade to match your ice cream.
by Supermac1961

Summer village fête

Do you live in the countryside? If so, you’ll be very familiar with the summer fête. Fair ground rides, craft stalls, candyfloss – what’s not to love? And being a traditional, historical occurrence, what better place to show off your flair for vintage?


One great thing about the British summer is the idea that, as soon as there is even a whiff of sunshine, the barbecue needs to come out. Well, you know what else needs to come out? Your vintage tea dress. Pronto.

Music festival

Despite the sweat, the mud, and the hoards of unwashed bodies you’ll be dancing in close proximity to, the vintage tea dress fares surprisingly well at festivals. Add some practical touches to get this right, including a pair of wellies, and a suitable bag that can either be slung crossways over your body, or carried daintily on your back. A leather jacket is a good idea if there’s rain forecast.

Where NOT to wear your vintage dress

Now that you’re armed with some brilliant places to wear your dress this summer, it’s important to take heed of those that are less than ideal, too. Your vintage dress needs the right setting in which to be fully appreciated. That excludes the following places:

• A nightclub – a summery floral dress is the wrong dress to bring dancing. Apart from the risk of ruining it with spilled drinks, it is really a dress that should be worn during the day.
• The supermarket – you’re going to feel a little bit too dressed up if you wear this to Tesco. Trust us.

• A job interview – if the interview is for anything corporate, you should forgo the vintage and choose something a bit more “office”. However, for creative industries it should do just fine.

Don’t have a dress?

If you don’t have a tea dress yet, you’re more than likely dying to get one after reading about all the great places you can wear it. Don’t worry they’re not that hard to find! Here are some great places to look for your perfect summer dress:

Vintage shops: of course! Every decent vintage shop has at least one rail full of these lovely things. But vintage shops can sometimes be a little bit pricey, so make sure you shop around if you’re not happy with the price tags there. Plus, not everyone has a vintage shop near where they live.

The internet: Why spend hours trawling the shops when you can sit home with a cup of tea and do the same thing? You can probably browse way more dresses in a short space of time if you do it online. Just bear in mind that you won’t be able to try before you buy.

Charity shops: for the true bargain hunter, the charity shop offers the chance to pick up something vintage for a fraction of the price. It might take a bit more time to find a gem, but it will be worth it.

Car boot sales and markets: if you’re the kind of person who loves to have a rummage, get yourself down to your local car boot or market and see what treasures you can find. Good luck!

Now that you’re armed with the secrets of the vintage tea dress, use them wisely. And have a great summer!

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