As comfortable and even pretty as a morning jacket might be, it must never be allowed to take the principal place as a lady’s home wear. Some women dress at home in a skirt and blouse, but there are others who truly understand the value of a lovely home dress for the moments of leisure. The loveliest flower in the field of home dresses is the tea-gown. The smartest and most elegant women have always valued this form of home dress, which indeed is only allowed to blossom at home and may never cross the threshold outside. Sophisticated aesthetes should discover the charm of a tea-gown, if it so far has been unknown, and acquire at least one for their own wardrobe. It has been said by one of our beloved saints, mrs. Pritchard, that the tea-gown is “garment of illusion, poetry, and mystic grace” and “There is much affinity between a beautiful tea-gown, daintily perfumed lingerie and a love of art and beauty”, which aptly describes the importance of this lovely garment. At minimum one tea-gown is essential for the devotees of Beauty, even if they never entertain their nearest friends at home, because there is no other garment which so personifies the delights of feminine space. Even if you are your own maid, cook and cleaner, when those tasks are complete and you are ready to enjoy the comforts of home, it is wise to change into a tea-gown to better mark the difference between housework and elegant leisure.
Odds and ends of real lace beautify a tea-gown as no other decoration will, and if there is an old-fashioned lace coat it may be relied upon, with a few clever alterations, to add diversity to a tea-gown scheme. Many women have in their possession lace-edged handkerchiefs for which they have no use ; if they were to arrange them in becomingly as a decoration, or take the corners to make lapels and cuff embellishments, the handkerchiefs would be serving a good purpose instead of lying by in a drawer to deteriorate. There is great wisdom in a certain smart woman’s plan for having, at any rate, one tea-gown in her wardrobe, made of grey crepe-de-chine, with black Chantilly lace trimmings, bands of silver lace insertion, and a chemisette to match. With this she can wear a sash girdle of any colour that suits her fancy, with a bandeau for her hair, also jewels of various tints and types, to add splashes of brilliancy to the nun-like scheme. In no other detail of dress can a woman assert her individuality, or indulge her love of invention more easily or more legitimately,than in the design she chooses for her tea-gown. She can herself contribute the idea for an artistic scheme; can reveal her own spirit, as it were, in what she wears. She can perpetuate the fashions of old times, can materialise the moonlight and the sunlight, and, in short, invest her gown with the romance which is perhaps lacking in her other toilettes.
Empire form is suitable for tea-gown, as is the princess robe, which both foster the intimate and cosy air which is so suitable at home better than an outfit consisting of a skirt and blouse. The form should be loose, allowing the wearer to drape herself in graceful folds, and a sight train should be considered favorably. All possible luxuries should be heaped on the tea-gown, as long as they are in keeping without the inherent languor and cosiness. There should be nothing stiff or formal about it. A ribbon tied at the waist gently encourages the folds of velvet, silk or lace to hint at the waists, but form should not be too fitted. The wearer is at liberty to choose any period or picturesque inspiration suited to her most intimate tastes as the theme of her dress, as long as it’s long, flowing and sumptuous. Younger ladies should choose the colour according to the coloring of their salon, ladies of advanced years will do well to choose grey or purple.
A tea-gown has some similarities with a visiting-gown, but it should emanate such air of informal luxury, that it could not be mistaken for anything else than what it is – an outfit which heightens the most pleasurable moments at home. Either in company or alone.