Tea Gowns…Early Edwardian Style

Today’s fashion feature centers around the tea gown. While we’ve had some extensive coverage of this topic in past posts, today we shift focus to the early 1900s with a few examples starting with this design from Maison Rouff that was featured in the July 1902 issue of Les Modes:

And here’s another gown by Rouff from circa 1900:

Rouff, Tea Gown, c. 1900; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.87-1991)

As with earlier tea gowns, there were a variety of individual styles available to the fashion consumer but the one thing that’s striking about the above examples is that they combined soft layers with a distinctive decorated vertical front that ran the full length of the garment that served to draw the eye. Also, we see the the empire waist style being used as a style element as can be seen in the above gown. Below is a little more unstructured design from Maison Worth:

Worth, Tea Gown, c. 1900-1901; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2498)

The black and white photography really shows off the floral and stripe pattern on the outer robe portion of the gown.

Rear View

Like the other gowns, Worth’s tea gown also features a train. On the other hand, lace is de-emphasized, only being used for the sleeves and trim around the neck. But what about tea gowns that weren’t made by high-end couture houses? Well, for those of lesser means, paper patterns were available for the home sewer and dressmaker such as this one that was featured in the January 31, 1901 issue of Vogue Magazine:

And then there’s this pattern featured in the July 24, 1902 issue:

The above images give a glimpse of tea gown trends during the early 1900s. From what we’ve seen, the one thing that stands out is that in contrast to the 1890s, the upper sleeve and shoulder were de-emphasized and lace seemed to play a more prominent role in sleeve design. In this post, we’ve painted with some pretty large brush strokes and in future posts, we hope to refine this a bit more, However, in the meantime, use these images as a source of inspiration. 🙂