Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British tradition that has been popular for over 150 years. It is an opportunity for friends and family to gather together and enjoy a selection of small sandwiches, scones and cakes while drinking tea from delicate teacups. While the focus of afternoon tea is on food and drink, it is also a social occasion that requires proper etiquette when it comes to dress. What to wear to an afternoon tea can be a source of confusion for many, as there are both traditional and contemporary options to consider. In this article, we will provide you with guidance on what to wear to afternoon tea with an insight into dress codes, outfit options and accessories that add a stylish touch. Whether you are attending a formal or casual afternoon tea, we have got you covered on what to wear for this iconic and timeless event.
Understanding Afternoon Tea Attire
When it comes to attending an afternoon tea, one of the most important considerations is attire. Dressing appropriately for this occasion shows respect for the tradition and sets the tone for a delightful experience. In this section, we’ll explore what to wear to an afternoon tea and provide some helpful tips.
Consider the Venue
The first thing to consider when choosing your outfit is the venue where you will be having your afternoon tea. Is it a formal setting such as a luxury hotel or a casual garden party? The level of formality should guide your choice of attire.
Traditional Tea Attire
Traditionally, women would wear elegant dresses with gloves and hats while men wore suits with ties. Although these dress codes are no longer strictly enforced, they still provide inspiration when planning your outfit.
For women, consider wearing a dress or skirt paired with heels or flats. Avoid anything too revealing or tight-fitting, as afternoon teas tend to be more conservative events. A light sweater or cardigan can also be added if needed for warmth.
Men can opt for smart-casual attire such as khakis and a blazer or dress pants with a button-down shirt. Ties are optional but add an extra touch of sophistication.
Accessories can elevate any outfit from simple to stunning and should be chosen carefully when attending an afternoon tea. Hats are always appropriate for women but avoid anything too large that may block other guests’ views during service.
Jewelry should also be kept simple yet elegant – think pearls rather than flashy statement pieces that may distract from the overall look.
Shoes Matter Too
When choosing shoes for an afternoon tea event, keep in mind that comfort is key since you will likely spend several hours on your feet socializing and enjoying refreshments. Flats are always appropriate but low-heeled pumps can also work well if you prefer something more formal.
Men should opt for dress shoes that are comfortable and polished. Avoid sneakers or any casual footwear that may detract from your overall look.
When attending an afternoon tea, it’s important to consider the weather conditions as well. If it’s a hot summer day, choose lightweight fabrics such as cotton or linen to stay cool and comfortable. On colder days, a light jacket or coat can be added for warmth without detracting from your overall look.
Dress Code for Women: The Do’s and Dont’s
When it comes to afternoon tea attire, women have a variety of options to choose from. However, there are some key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when selecting your outfit. In this section, we’ll explore the dress code for women attending an afternoon tea.
When attending an afternoon tea event, dressing appropriately is key to showing respect for the tradition and setting the tone for a delightful experience. Consider the venue’s level of formality, opt for comfortable yet stylish shoes, accessorize with simple yet elegant jewelry and hats when appropriate, and choose outfits that are feminine yet modest for women and smart-casual for men. Remember to keep accessories and jewelry minimalistic and not to overdo it. Finally, have fun and enjoy the company of friends and family while savoring small sandwiches, scones, and cakes while drinking tea from delicate teacups.
Do: Opt for Elegant Dresses or Skirts
One of the most common choices for women attending an afternoon tea is a dress or skirt. Choose elegant designs that are feminine yet modest – avoid anything too short or revealing.
A classic A-line dress with a knee-length hemline is always appropriate. You can also opt for a flowy maxi dress in lighter fabrics such as chiffon or cotton during the summer months.
If you prefer skirts over dresses, choose one with a modest length that falls below the knee. Pair it with a blouse or sweater and accessorize with simple jewelry.
Don’t: Wear Anything Too Casual
Although afternoon teas can be less formal than other events such as weddings, it’s still important to avoid anything too casual when choosing your attire. Avoid wearing jeans, shorts, t-shirts, or sneakers – these items are far too casual for this occasion.
Instead, opt for more polished pieces such as tailored pants paired with heels and a blouse or sweater.
Do: Accessorize Appropriately
Accessories can add elegance and sophistication to any outfit when chosen carefully. When attending an afternoon tea event, consider adding accessories such as:
- Hats: Wide-brimmed hats are traditional but smaller fascinators can also work well.
- Gloves: Lace gloves add extra refinement but aren’t necessary.
- Jewelry: Keep it simple yet elegant – pearls are always appropriate.
- Handbags: Choose something small like clutch bags instead of large shoulder bags.
- Scarves/Shawls : Light scarves/ shawls in breathable fabrics like silk provide warmth without detracting from your overall look.
Don’t: Overdo It
While accessories can be a great way to elevate your outfit, it’s important not to overdo it. Avoid wearing too much jewelry or adding too many accessories that may distract from the overall look.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with one statement accessory and keep everything else simple. For example, if you choose a bold hat, keep the rest of your accessories minimalistic.
Do: Choose Comfortable Shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must when attending an afternoon tea event since you’ll likely be on your feet for several hours. Opt for low-heeled pumps or flats that are both stylish and comfortable.
If you prefer heels, choose something no higher than 2-3 inches that won’t leave your feet in pain after only an hour or two. Block heels or wedges can also provide extra stability and comfort compared to stilettos.
Don’t: Wear Anything Too Revealing
While showing some skin can certainly be alluring and fashionable in some settings, it’s best to avoid anything too revealing when attending an afternoon tea event. Avoid deep necklines or anything that shows significant cleavage – instead, opt for more modest designs such as boat necks or high-necked blouses paired with skirts.
Similarly, avoid anything too tight-fitting – this is not the occasion for bodycon dresses or tight pencil skirts.
Dress Code for Men: What You Need to Know
While women’s attire tends to be the focus of conversation when it comes to afternoon tea, men have their own dress code guidelines to follow. In this section, we’ll explore what men should wear when attending an afternoon tea.
It is important to dress appropriately for an afternoon tea event, considering the venue’s level of formality and accessories that add a touch of elegance. Women can opt for elegant dresses or skirts, while men can choose smart-casual attire. Accessorize with minimalistic yet sophisticated jewelry and hats, and choose comfortable shoes. Avoid wearing anything too revealing or too casual, and remember to layer up appropriately according to weather conditions. Classic dress with pearls is a timeless choice for women attending an afternoon tea event.
Do: Opt for Smart-Casual Attire
When choosing what to wear for an afternoon tea event, men should aim for smart-casual attire. This could include a blazer paired with khaki pants or dress pants and a button-down shirt layered with a sweater or cardigan.
If you prefer a more formal look, opt for a suit and tie. However, keep in mind that the venue’s level of formality will guide your choice of attire – if it’s a less formal setting such as an outdoor garden party, smart-casual may be more appropriate than a full suit.
Accessories: Hats, Gloves, and More
Accessories can add an extra touch of elegance to any afternoon tea outfit. In this section, we’ll explore some popular accessories to consider when dressing up for an afternoon tea.
Proper etiquette is important when attending an afternoon tea and dressing appropriately sets the tone for a delightful experience. Women should choose elegant dresses or skirts while men should opt for smart-casual attire. Accessorizing should be done with care and comfort is key when selecting shoes. It’s important to consider the venue’s level of formality and weather conditions when planning your outfit.
Hats have long been a traditional accessory for women attending an afternoon tea event. Wide-brimmed hats are the most common choice but smaller fascinators can also work well.
When choosing your hat, keep in mind that it should complement your outfit without overpowering it. If you’re wearing a bold print or patterned dress/skirt , opt for a solid-colored hat instead of one with prints .
For men attending an afternoon tea event , hats are not as typical as they are for women . However , if you prefer to accessorize with one ; straw fedoras/caps or flat caps/tweed caps provide understated sophistication .
Gloves were once considered essential accessories for women attending formal events such as afternoon teas but these days they’re considered optional extras.
Lace gloves provide a classic touch of refinement and elegance . However if you prefer something more modern opt fingerless gloves made from breathable materials like cotton or silk during the summer months .
For men attending an afternoon tea event ; gloves aren’t necessary .
Lightweight scarves/shawls in breathable fabrics like silk or chiffon can add warmth without detracting from your overall look. Choose colors that complement your outfit while providing contrast; for example, if you’re wearing a navy blue dress choose a light-colored scarf/shawl to create balance.
Men don’t typically wear scarves/shawls when attending an afternoon tea event but small pocket squares in coordinated colors with their outfits can do the job just fine.
Jewelry is another accessory that can elevate any outfit from simple to stunning. For women attending an afternoon tea event; pearls are always appropriate and add a touch of sophistication. Other elegant jewelry choices include simple stud earrings, delicate necklaces, or bracelets.
For men attending an afternoon tea event; accessories should be kept minimalistic . Simple yet elegant watches can provide understated sophistication while cufflinks can also add some classiness to their outfits .
When attending an afternoon tea event , smaller handbags/clutch bags are the preferred choice for women. Choose one that’s big enough to hold your essentials such as phone , keys , makeup etc but not too large that it becomes cumbersome.
The handbag/clutch bag should complement your outfit without being too bold or distracting – choose solid colors or simple designs rather than loud prints .
Men don’t typically carry bags when attending an afternoon tea event.
Comfortable shoes are essential when attending an afternoon tea event since you’ll be on your feet for several hours. For women, low-heeled pumps or flats make great choices as they’re both stylish and comfortable . Block heels/wedges can also provide extra stability and comfort compared to high stilettos.
For men ; dress shoes such as loafers or oxfords are the most appropriate footwear options at this type of occasion.
Outfit Ideas for a Perfect Afternoon Tea Look
With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to put together the perfect outfit for an afternoon tea event. In this section, we’ll provide some outfit ideas that are sure to impress.
Classic Dress with Pearls
A classic A-line dress paired with simple pearl jewelry is a timeless choice for women attending an afternoon tea event. Choose a dress in a solid color such as navy blue or burgundy and
What is the appropriate dress code for an afternoon tea?
The appropriate dress code for an afternoon tea usually depends on the occasion. For a formal event, such as a high tea or a wedding, women may wear a dress or a skirt with a blouse. Men can dress formally with a suit and tie. For a more casual event, such as a tea party with friends, a sundress or a blouse with a skirt or pants will be appropriate. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, so it’s a good idea to check with the host or the invitation to get an idea of the dress code.
Can I wear jeans to an afternoon tea?
Jeans are not traditionally appropriate for an afternoon tea, but it depends on the occasion. Jeans can be too casual for a formal event, but it could be acceptable if it’s a casual gathering with friends or family. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and dress up a little more than you think is necessary.
What accessories should I wear to an afternoon tea party?
Accessories add some flair to your outfit and can make you stand out among the crowd. For example, women can wear a hat, scarf, or jewelry to add a touch of elegance to their outfits. A statement necklace or earrings can be a perfect finish. Men can wear a watch as an accessory or a tie to complement their attire.
What should I avoid wearing to an afternoon tea?
It’s essential to avoid wearing anything too revealing and anything too short or too tight-fitting. Flip-flops, shorts, and athletic wear are a no-go, as they are too casual for this kind of event. It’s best to avoid anything too loud and garish as well, like bright neon colors or graphic t-shirts. When in doubt, it’s best to dress more conservatively.