7 Great Outfits to Wear for Afternoon Tea
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  • Writer's pictureBrenda

7 Great Outfits to Wear for Afternoon Tea

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British tradition that has become a popular pastime all around the world. Whether you are attending an afternoon tea at a luxurious hotel, a cozy tea room, or hosting your own tea party, what to wear is an important consideration.


Afternoon tea is a dressy occasion and requires a certain level of formality, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your personal style. In this blog post, we will discuss what to wear to afternoon tea, so you can look and feel your best.




 

What is Afternoon Tea?


Before we delve into what to wear, let's first define what afternoon tea is. Afternoon tea is a light meal typically served between 3 pm and 5 pm. It traditionally includes a variety of tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, and pastries.


It is often served on a three-tiered stand and accompanied by a pot of tea. Afternoon tea originated in the 1800s as a way for the wealthy to stave off hunger between lunch and dinner. Today, it is a popular social activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.




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*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no cost to you.



What to Wear to Afternoon Tea


When it comes to what to wear to afternoon tea, the dress code can vary depending on the venue and the occasion. Generally speaking, afternoon tea is a dressy affair, and you should dress up accordingly. However, this doesn't mean you have to wear a ball gown or a tuxedo. Think of a hybrid between smart casual and business casual. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:



1. Dressy but not formal


Afternoon tea is a formal event, but it's not as formal as a black-tie affair. A dress or skirt and blouse are appropriate, as are dress pants and a nice blouse or sweater. Avoid anything too casual, such as jeans or shorts, as well as anything too formal, such as a ball gown or a suit. A midi dress with short sleeves for example is a good choice.




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2. Avoid bright colors and patterns


Neutral or pastel colors are ideal for afternoon tea. Avoid bright colors, bold patterns, and loud prints unless that is the theme of the occasion. You don't want to steal the show from the delicious treats and the company you're with. However, a midi skirt with floral prints could be welcome for an outdoor Spring afternoon tea.




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3. Keep it modest


Afternoon tea is a conservative event, so keep your outfit modest. Think long skirts, maxi dresses and perhaps a collared shirt. Avoid anything too revealing, such as low-cut tops or short skirts. It's best to err on the side of caution and cover up. A tea dress is usually one you could wear to meet the late Queen in so think I that direction




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4. Consider the season and venue


The time of year and the venue should also be taken into account when choosing your outfit. If you're attending a traditional afternoon tea in the summer, opt for a light, breezy dress, while a warm sweater and scarf are perfect for a winter tea.




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If you're going to a tea party in a formal setting like a hotel, for a special occasion, you may want to dress up a little more than if you were attending a casual tea at a friend's house.



5. Accessorize


Accessories can make or break an outfit, so make sure to choose them carefully. A simple string of pearls, a clutch purse, and a pair of classic pumps or flats are perfect for afternoon tea. However, avoid anything too flashy or trendy. An afternoon tea party is the best excuse to pull out that fascinator.




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Outfit Ideas for Afternoon Tea


Now that we've covered some guidelines for what to wear, let's look at some outfit ideas for afternoon tea party attire.


1. Classic Dress


A classic dress is always a safe choice for afternoon tea. Choose a knee-length or midi-length dress in a neutral color, such as black, navy, or beige. Pair it with a pair of simple pumps or ballet flats and a clutch purse.




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Add a string of pearls or a pair of simple earrings for a touch of elegance. Fancy dresses in pastel colors are great options that could be worn to tea parties for special occasions such as a wedding reception.



2. Skirt and Blouse


If you prefer separates, a skirt and blouse combination is a great option. Choose a knee-length or midi skirt in a neutral color, such as black, navy, or beige. Pair it with a blouse in a complementary color or a subtle print. A collared blouse or a blouse with a bow tie would be perfect. Complete the look with a pair of pumps with low heels or flats and a clutch purse.




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3. Dress Pants and Sweater


Dress pants and a cardigan sweater are a comfortable and chic option for afternoon tea. Choose a pair of dress pants in a neutral color, such as black or navy. Pair them with a soft and cozy sweater in a complementary color for a classy look. A cardigan or a cashmere sweater would be a wonderful choice. Finish the look with a pair of classic pumps or flats in a neutral color.




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4. Tea-Length Skirt and Blouse


A tea-length skirt and blouse combination is a classic and elegant option for an afternoon high tea party. Choose a skirt that falls just below the knee and pair it with a blouse in a complementary color or a subtle print. This is classic look you could wear to any type of tea party.




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Pencil skirts in solid neutral colors are a good idea. A collared blouse or a blouse with a bow tie would be perfect to complete you tea time attire. Finish the look with a pair of heels or flats and a clutch purse.



5. Jumpsuit


A jumpsuit is a modern and stylish option for afternoon tea. Choose a jumpsuit in a neutral color, such as black or navy, and pair it with a statement belt. The best shoes to finish your look with are pair of nude heels or heeled sandals. Create a more feminine look by adding a belt to cinch in your waist.




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6. Midi Dress with Sleeves


If you want to add some drama to your outfit, choose a midi dress with sleeves. This type of dress is perfect for cooler weather or for a more formal afternoon tea. Choose a dress in a neutral color, such as black or navy, and pair it with a pair of high heels or flats.




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For the warmer weather, you could opt for a strapless summer maxi dress and add a shawl or scarf over your shoulders. The general rule when it comes to tea room etiquette is to show as little skin as possible.



7. Trouser Suit


For a more formal afternoon tea, a trouser suit is a great option. Choose a suit in a neutral color, such as black or navy, and pair it with a blouse in a complementary color or a subtle print. Finish the look with a pair of loafers, flatforms or flats. Wear a button-down shirt under your suit jacket for a semi-formal event.




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In summary, afternoon tea is a dressy affair that requires a certain level of formality, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your personal style. When choosing your outfit, keep in mind the dress code of the occasion and the season and venue. Stick to neutral or pastel colors, keep your outfit modest, and accessorize with classic pieces such as pearls, pumps or flats, and a clutch purse.


Whether you choose a classic dress, a skirt and blouse combination, a jumpsuit, or a trouser suit, make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. After all, the most important thing is to enjoy the delicious treats and the company you're with.




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Afternoon tea is not just about the food and the fashion, but also about the company you are with. It is a great opportunity to catch up with friends, family, or colleagues in a relaxed and elegant setting. Here are some tips on how to enjoy your afternoon tea experience with your company:


General tips for enjoying an afternoon tea party



1. Be Punctual

If you are invited to an afternoon tea, make sure you arrive on time. Being punctual shows that you respect the host's time and effort. It also allows you to enjoy the full experience without feeling rushed or stressed.



2. Practice Good Table Manners

Afternoon tea is a formal occasion that requires good table manners. Remember to sit up straight, use your napkin, and keep your elbows off the table. Use utensils from the outside in, and hold the tea cup by the handle with your pinky finger down. Enjoy the delicious food which typically includes finger sandwiches and small desserts.




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3. Engage in Conversation

Afternoon tea is a social event that encourages conversation. Use this opportunity to catch up with your good company, share stories, and ask questions. Avoid controversial topics or anything that could make your company uncomfortable.



4. Appreciate the Food and Tea

Afternoon tea is all about the food and tea. Take your time to appreciate the flavors, textures, and presentation of each item. Savor the sandwiches, pastries, and scones, and try different types of tea. Remember to thank the host and the server for the wonderful experience.




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5. Dress Appropriately

As mentioned earlier, dressing appropriately is important for afternoon tea. Make sure you check the dress code of the occasion and dress accordingly. Avoid anything too revealing, casual, or loud. Dressing appropriately shows that you respect the occasion and your company.




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6. Follow the Etiquette

Afternoon tea has a set of etiquette rules that should be followed. For example, the host should pour the tea for the guests, and the milk and sugar should be added after the tea is poured. The food should be eaten with your fingers, unless it is too messy or difficult to handle. Learn the etiquette rules before attending an afternoon tea and follow them accordingly.




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I hope you’ve gotten lots of outfit inspiration you can put into practice for your next afternoon tea party. Seeing as I love tea parties so much, I do have another post titled 5 Outfit Ideas to Wear to an Afternoon Tea Party. It provides more stylish ways to show up to the tea party.


I have another post: 8 Outfits You Can Wear to a Garden Party. You’ll notice a lot of similarities in the dress codes for this semi-formal event.


Until the next post,


XOXO

Theankaraqueen




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