Learn the basics about high tea attire, what to wear, what to avoid, and get great outfit inspiration!
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High Tea Attire For Women
So you’ve been invited as a guest to high tea. But, what are you going to wear?
It’s no doubt you want to look your best for high tea, but if you are reading this post you are likely not sure if there’s a dress code, and what the standard high tea attire is.Do you wear a hat? Can you wear pants? What color should your dress be?
We’ve got you covered! This blog post will answer all of your questions about tea party attire and give you some great outfit ideas for high tea.
And, we’ve got the perfect looks, whether you’ll be dressing up for a really special occasion or dressing down for a more casual tea.
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What is High Tea?
High tea is a light meal typically eaten in the afternoon, and it usually consists of sandwiches, scones, and pastries. High tea is a British tradition, and it is often eaten as a break from work or on a special occasion.
Traditionally high tea was actually eaten in the evening after work by the working class; however, today, high tea and afternoon tea are often used interchangeably.
When you’re invited to the “tea” part of high tea, you should expect a more formal event or party that consists of light bites such as small sandwiches and finger foods.In addition to tea, it is also traditional to be served champagne during high tea.
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What do you wear to a High Tea?
When you’re invited to high tea, there are certain things you should wear. You want to dress your best, but because you’ll be eating and drinking you also want to be comfortable.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your outfit for high tea.
Do you have to wear a dress to high tea?
Traditionally a dress or skirt was most appropriate for high tea. But, nowadays there is more flexibility on what you can wear as long as you lean towards a more smart casual, conservative, or formal style. High tea is not the time to break out your new crop top or mini skirt!
Some great options for high tea attire include:
What colors should you wear to high tea?
While there are no set rules for what colors you should or shouldn’t wear to high tea, it is generally advised to avoid overly bright or neon colors and loud patterns. High tea is a more formal event, so you want your tea party outfit to reflect that.
Some great color and pattern options for high tea include:
- Cream or Ivory
- Pastels (blush, mist blue, sage green, etc.)
- Subtle floral prints or polka dots
If you choose to wear something brighter, it is good to pair it with a neutral color and subtle accessories.
What shoes should you wear to high tea?
The best shoes to wear to high tea are comfortable but also stylish. High heels are an option, but if you’re going to be walking around a lot or standing for long periods, it’s best to choose a mid or low heel, or even flats.
Some great shoe options for high tea include:
- Ballet flats
- Kitten heels
- Peep-toe heels
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Can you wear pants to high tea?
Because high tea is a more formal event, dresses or skirts are typically seen as the ideal option over pants. However, these days pants can be worn to high tea if they are well-tailored, made with a nice material, and dressed-up with the right shoes, top, and accessories.
If you choose to wear pants, make sure they are well-fitting and made of a nice fabric. Avoid jeans, leggings, or anything other style that is overly casual.
Some great pant options for high tea include:
Do you wear a hat to high tea?
There is no rule saying you have to wear a hat to high tea, but it is definitely an option. If you choose to wear a hat, make sure it coordinates with your outfit and is more formal in style.
High Tea Dress Code
If you’re attending high tea and are not entirely sure what to wear, you may want to stick to a traditional tea dress code.
Below are some guidelines to help you decide what to wear:
- High tea is a formal occasion, so you’ll want to dress accordingly.
- Hats are not required, but they can add a touch of elegance to your outfit.
- Gloves are not required, but they can also add a touch of elegance.
- High heels are not required, but they can make you look more dressed up.
- A dress or skirt is always a good choice for high tea.
- If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, make sure it is at least knee-length.
- A blouse or lightweight sweater is an excellent choice to wear with a skirt.
- Pants or trousers can be worn to high tea, just avoid denim, leggings, and overly casual pant styles.
- Choose a nice pair of dress shoes or heels to complete your outfit.
5 High Tea Attire Outfit Ideas To Try
High tea is typically a more formal event, so you’ll want to dress accordingly. Here are five great outfit ideas to get you started.
The White Pant Suit
While it might not be your typical outfit for afternoon tea, pants suits are an excellent option for those wanting to look polished. Choose a well-fitting pair of pants and match them with a tailored blazer.
Add a pretty blouse or camisole underneath, and finish the look with some nude heels.For an extra high tea touch, add a hat in the same color as the pants suit.
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The Pretty Floral Dress
If you want to go the more traditional route, a pretty floral print dress is always a good choice. Opt for a knee-length dress or longer and made of a light, airy fabric.
Add a cardigan or blazer if you need an extra layer. Finish the look with a pair of flats or low heels.
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The High Tea Jumpsuit
Yes, you can definitely wear a jumpsuit to high tea! Choose a dressy jumpsuit in a solid color or pretty print.
Pair it with heels and add some dainty jewelry to finish the look. Add a cardigan or blazer if you want to cover your arms.
The Blouse & Colorful Skirt
Midi skirts are having a moment, making for a great high tea outfit option. Choose a skirt in a pretty print or a pastel color.
Pair it with a simple white blouse or sweater and kitten heels or high heels. Add a hat or dressy headband to complete the look.
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The Matching Skirt Set
This is a great high tea outfit combo. Choose a matching skirt set in a solid color, floral pattern, or tweed.
Add some dainty jewelry, a neutral purse, low heels or ballet flats, and you’re good to go.
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What To Wear To a Tea Party
So what will you be wearing to high tea? Will you go for a traditional outfit or something more modern? Whatever you choose, make sure you feel confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing for tea time.
High tea is all about enjoying good company, delicious food, and of course, fabulous fashion!
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A dress or skirt is always a good choice for high tea. If you're wearing a dress or skirt, make sure it is at least knee-length. A blouse or lightweight sweater is an excellent choice to wear with a skirt. Pants or trousers can be worn to high tea, just avoid denim, leggings, and overly casual pant styles.What do ladies wear to afternoon tea? ›
Tea Hat or Fascinator
A lady always wears a hat when she goes out in the daytime, and without fail (which is twice as strong as 'always') for dress-up occasions, such as weddings, funerals or other religious services, and formal luncheons and teas.
Tea party attire is usually smart casual. The tea party dress code is somewhere between business-casual and casual. It is always a good idea to ask your host for the dress code before attending as some tea parties call for more formal wear.What type of dress standards are evident at a high tea? ›
While most high tea events don't have a specific dress code, take our advice and skip the work attire and anything more suited to a nightclub or bar. Instead, this dainty social occasion is the perfect excuse to pop on a dress or swishy skirt and top. The aim is to look pretty, polished and relaxed.Can you wear a black dress to a tea party? ›
The customary attire for men and women attending a tea is semi-formal. Often ladies sport hats, gloves and brightly colored suits and dresses. Black is never appropriate for a tea party. It is okay for a lady to wear her hat at the table; however, gloves should be removed before the tea service begins.
Delectable scones, tea sandwiches, and cakes are the hallmark of an afternoon tea, which is served in midafternoon. A high tea, however, includes much more substantive fare, such as meat, fish, and egg dishes, as well as breads and desserts, and is offered in the early evening.What is a tea dress style? ›
a dress with short sleeves and full skirt that usually comes to the knees or just below, typically made of colourful material, often with a pattern of flowers on it: Pretty tea dresses with colourful prints are one of this summer's trends.What are smart casual clothes? ›
What Is Smart Casual Attire? Smart casual attire is a dress code that combines well-fitting, polished business wear with elements of casual attire—think blouses, polo shirts, button-downs, chinos, dress pants, dark-wash jeans, and polished, practical footwear.Can you wear pants to a tea? ›
Opt for stylish pants to create a comfortable tea time look.
Dress pants or slacks are totally fine for men or women to wear as long as they're tailored to fit you perfectly. Wear a stylish blouse or shirt with the pants and consider throwing on a light blazer to make your outfit look really put together.
A button-down shirt and chinos are a good choice for most afternoon teas. A blazer or smart sweater can also be worn to dress up the outfit. Just make sure the fit is comfortable; you don't want to be tugging at your clothes all day!
so yes, it is ok not to wear one. Just remember to keep your look elegant and do take the time to dress up. Choose styles in quality fabrics with feminine silhouettes like the Diane Von Furstenberg Blithe Jumpsuit and avoid anything too short, low cut or with too many cut outs.What is the proper time for tea? ›
People usually have afternoon tea between 3 and 5pm, and 4pm is often cited as the best time for afternoon tea. Many hotels and restaurants offer it from noon until early evening, though, so you don't have to stick to the rules if you want to have it earlier or later.What does high tea consist of? ›
High tea is the British tradition of drinking tea while sitting in high-backed chairs at a table full of plated items such as cold meats, vegetables, pickled fish, potatoes, salads, pies, tarts, homemade bread or crackers with butter, teacakes and fruitcakes.What do you wear to high tea in the winter? ›
When it comes to high tea, a dress or skirt is always appropriate. If you're going to wear a dress or skirt, make sure it's knee-length. Wear a blouse or a lightweight sweater with a skirt to create a stunning ensemble.What time is best for high tea? ›
Typically served after the end of a long workday, 5 pm or 6 pm, High Tea traditionally consisted of a meat dish, crumpets, potatoes, onion cakes, baked beans, or cheesy casseroles.What is the purpose of high tea? ›
So what is 'high tea'?
The phrase 'high tea' started to be used to describe a working-class meal served at a high table and high back dining chairs at the end of a long workday. The tea would be accompanied by a hot meal. This could be a meat or fish dish or baked food or vegetables.
“They are so expensive, because the customer stays for longer, meaning the turn over is slower, meaning they have to charge more to make a profit.”What shoes go with a tea dress? ›
The Classic Choice: Leather Sliders
Look best with: Tea dresses, midi dresses, mini dresses... these are another wear-with-anything-shoe. When it comes to sandals the most versatile shoe is arguably a leather slider, as these are smart enough for many offices, but can also are the perfect weekend shoe.
In general, the hem of a tea-length dress typically stops right above the ankle, making it ideal for formal and black-tie optional events. However, some silhouettes may stop 2 to 3 inches above the ankle, which is more appropriate for a casual dress code.Why is a tea dress called a tea dress? ›
A tea dress or tea gown in it's simplest term is a dress that is comfortable to host or have tea in. Characterised by unstructured lines and light-weight fabrics. They gained popularity in the mid-20th century, a European development influenced by Asian clothing such as the Japanese kimono.
Dressy casual attire (also called smart casual) is a combination of relaxed and refined pieces—think blouses, dress shirts, button-downs, dress pants, dark jeans, and clean shoes.How can a woman look smart? ›
How can a lady look smart? Appearance can go a long way for making you look smart. Always go with clean, well-fitting clothes such as a casual dress instead of baggy clothes like sweatpants and a hoodie. If you wear glasses, put them on to enhance your image and make yourself look smarter.Do you dress up for afternoon tea? ›
Usually, the attire requested for guests to adhere to for afternoon tea is 'smart casual'. This will generally mean no sports-branded trainers, t-shirts, shorts, or sportswear. A typical outfit for afternoon tea for men would include smart trousers and shoes, with a shirt.Can you wear a maxi dress to a tea party? ›
Long skirts and maxi dresses offer a more modern take on afternoon tea, but are still chic and stylish.What do you bring to a tea party? ›
Arrive on time. A hostess gift isn't generally expected for a tea party, but if you choose to bring one, keep it simple. The hostess will appreciate some flavored loose tea, a new tea ball, or a candle. Wrap it or place it in a gift bag and hand it to her as soon as you arrive.Do you have to wear a hat to a tea party? ›
Hats are OUT for high tea events – one simply does not wear a hat at the table sweethearts. Although there are two jolly good exceptions to this rule – for Winter high tea you could wear a wool beret and for Summer High Tea outdoors you should protect your precious face from the sun.What are the 3 main foods served at an afternoon tea? ›
There aren't any rules when it comes to the food, but a standard afternoon tea comprises a tier of sandwiches, a tier of cakes and one of scones or teacakes. However, you could also throw in pastries, petits-fours or biscuits.
It's customary for the person doing the hosting to pour the tea out, and for the teapot to be left on the table with the spout facing the person who poured. If sat at a table, the proper manner to drink tea is to raise the tea cup, leaving the saucer on the table, and to place the cup back on the saucer between sips.How long does an afternoon tea last? ›
5. Re: How long does a typical Afternoon Tea Last? The average afternoon tea lasts about an hour and a half, however if you factor in the length of the taxi ride, queuing at the theatre and enough time for a pre-show drink you're probably just about right with two and a half hours.What's another name for high tea? ›
In this page you can discover 4 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for high-tea, like: cream-tea, five o'clock tea, light supper and afternoon-tea.
Originally, in a tea party, loose leaf tea was provided in a teapot along with milk and sugar. Variety of food including sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries and biscuits were served alongside tea in a tiered arrangement. Food served in tea parties was according to a particular season.What do you wear to afternoon tea at the Ritz? ›
In all other areas of the hotel (The Ritz Restaurant breakfast service, The Rivoli Bar, The Long Gallery and The Ritz Garden), smart casual attire is required. Please note that shorts, trainers and sportswear are not permitted in any of the hotel's restaurants or bars.What do you wear to afternoon tea at the Ritz? ›
In all other areas of the hotel (The Ritz Restaurant breakfast service, The Rivoli Bar, The Long Gallery and The Ritz Garden), smart casual attire is required. Please note that shorts, trainers and sportswear are not permitted in any of the hotel's restaurants or bars.What do you wear to high tea in the winter? ›
When it comes to high tea, a dress or skirt is always appropriate. If you're going to wear a dress or skirt, make sure it's knee-length. Wear a blouse or a lightweight sweater with a skirt to create a stunning ensemble.What is smart casual dress code for ladies? ›
What is a smart casual dress code for women? A smart casual dress code is an attire that combines well-fitting, polished business wear with elements of casual attire like blouses, shirts, button-downs, dress pants, dark-wash jeans, and polished, practical footwear.Do you have to dress up for afternoon tea in London? ›
Most afternoon tea venues have a relaxed 'smart casual' dress code for afternoon tea. Men don't need to wear a jacket, tie and shoes – unless of course it is specified – just steer clear of trainers and caps. Most gentlemen instead prefer to wear a collared shirt and smart jeans or trousers.What are smart casual clothes? ›
What Is Smart Casual Attire? Smart casual attire is a dress code that combines well-fitting, polished business wear with elements of casual attire—think blouses, polo shirts, button-downs, chinos, dress pants, dark-wash jeans, and polished, practical footwear.What shoes can you wear to the Ritz? ›
The hotel policy is no trainers or sportswear in any public area of the hotel so other customers who do like to dress up don't feel offended. Jeans are only allowed in the dining rooms at breakfast. Lunch and dinner require a jacket for men and similar for women.Do you leave a tip for afternoon tea? ›
Service charge is included in the price of the tea, so there is no need to tip the waiter.What kind of shoes do you wear for afternoon tea? ›
Shoes. For men, closed shoes are a necessity. For women, this is a little more relaxed because everyone knows a glittering pair of heeled sandals or open-toe pair of heels can look just as glamorous as a closed-toe.
High tea is the British tradition of drinking tea while sitting in high-backed chairs at a table full of plated items such as cold meats, vegetables, pickled fish, potatoes, salads, pies, tarts, homemade bread or crackers with butter, teacakes and fruitcakes.What time is high tea? ›
Its origins can be found in the lower classes, who compensated for the lack of a lunch break in their workdays by taking tea — along with cold cuts, cheeses, pies and hearty hot dishes — immediately after work. Today, high tea is generally taken between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.What is classy casual? ›
Dressing classy but casual is all about combining high-quality clothes for a stylish look. You can look classy with clean jeans and a nice, well-fitting top. Or, pair slacks with a dress shirt for a business casual look. During summer, wear shorts with a loose-fitting t-shirt.What is tea etiquette? ›
It's customary for the person doing the hosting to pour the tea out, and for the teapot to be left on the table with the spout facing the person who poured. If sat at a table, the proper manner to drink tea is to raise the tea cup, leaving the saucer on the table, and to place the cup back on the saucer between sips.What is the best time for afternoon tea? ›
People usually have afternoon tea between 3 and 5pm, and 4pm is often cited as the best time for afternoon tea. Many hotels and restaurants offer it from noon until early evening, though, so you don't have to stick to the rules if you want to have it earlier or later.