High tea is all about wearing fashionable clothing for a classy and timeless style while enjoying some tasty treats. If you want to dress up for afternoon tea, these high tea outfits will help you create a stylish and elegant look for your party.
When attending an afternoon tea party, you’ll need to think about what to wear to the occasion to look and feel your best. While some venues may have a dress code, there are many beautiful and modern outfit ideas for a tea party that will elevate your style.
For inspiration, we’ll show you examples of high tea attire and what to wear for a stylish outfit. From summer to winter ensembles, explore these amazing tea party outfits to find cute and chic ideas.
- 1 What Is High Tea?
- 2 High Tea Dress Code
- 3 What To Wear To High Tea
- 4 High Tea Outfits
What Is High Tea?
High tea is a light decadent meal that’s usually eaten in the late afternoon. Also known as afternoon tea, this tea party generally includes finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries and a selection of teas.
As a semi-formal event, high tea attire is classy, stylish and somewhat conservative, requiring women to dress up and create a feminine, chic outfit. If you’re invited to an afternoon tea party, you can wear a cute dress, knee-length skirt, elegant blouse with dress pants, a matching pant suit, heels or nice booties.
If you’re wondering about how the tradition of high tea came about, it was supposedly created by the seventh Duchess of Bedford back in 1840 when she found herself ravenous during the late afternoon hours. To keep her energized until dinner was served around 8 PM, the Duchess would ask for bread and butter along with tea.
This simple meal was originally enjoyed by the upper classes in England throughout the 1800s. Since then, afternoon tea has evolved into a high-class event that’s enjoyed with an optional glass of champagne to take things to the next level.
Some tea party attire ideas include:
- A beautiful midi or maxi dress with heels
- A conservative skirt with a blouse or sweater
- A cute blouse and tailored dress pants or trousers
- An upscale jumpsuit or pant suit
- Fashionable footwear such as heels, pumps, loafers, ankle boots and ballet flats
- Colors and patterns should be white, cream, ivory, navy, grey, floral prints, polka dots and pretty pastels like blush, sage green, mist blue
High Tea Dress Code
The high tea dress code is smart casual to semi-formal attire with some flexibility for comfort. If you’ve never attended a high tea before, you might be wondering how to dress for the occasion. As a rule, formal dresses and skirts in light colors are preferred attire, but you can easily showcase your signature style with tailored pantsuits or gorgeous cigarette trousers for a slightly edgy look that leans modern.
Whether you’re searching for outfits to rock during the wintertime or the height of summer, follow these simple guidelines to have all eyes on you:
- High tea is a formal event that requires demure clothing to create an elegant outfit.
- While not required, you can wear wear hats or gloves to high tea for an effortlessly stylish and sophisticated look.
- You may want to style high heels with your classy ensemble to add height and improve the way you carry yourself around a room. When wearing heels, choose closed-toe styles in neutral or muted shades.
- Tea party attire is defined by a conservative dress code so you’ll want to avoid plunging necklines, cutouts or overly structured silhouettes that may be considered inappropriate.
- If you’re planning to wear a dress or a skirt, keep things modest by choosing styles that sit at knee-length or below.
- For women who want to wear sleek pantsuits, stick with brushed linen, cotton and other classic materials that won’t crease excessively. It’s best to avoid flashy denim or skintight leggings at all costs as these are seen as casual and urban styles.
- If the venue mentions smart casual attire, you’ll want to create a business casual or semi-formal outfit to avoid looking over or under-dressed.
What To Wear To High Tea
When it comes to high tea, these stylish tea party outfits will have you looking elegant and effortlessly chic with stunning style.
Dresses are a gorgeous choice for high tea that allow you to look stylish and cute while being comfortable. You can wear a flowing maxi dress that looks colorful and fashionable or an elegant midi that gently skims the body while highlighting your curves for a timeless, feminine style.
For a classic high tea outfit, you should avoid busy patterns or bold colors that draw the eye. While you can pick an edgy shade, you’ll need to stick to muted variations like sapphire, emerald and burgundy. To achieve a conservative look, choose a dazzling pastel pink, blue and lilac for a beautiful and aristocratic vibe.
For an outfit with feminine flair, try a delicate white lace dress with subtle silver accessories and a matching clutch. To elevate your style, combine wear closed-toe kitten heels with your ensemble. To protect your skin from the summer sun, throw on a fascinator or a sophisticated wide-brimmed hat. Alternatively, you can rock a blue linen maxi dress and a cropped cardigan for a chic look that screams upper-class glam.
Skirts are always an attractive choice for high tea, allowing you to experiment with length and texture for a trendy look. You’ll want to avoid skirts that are too short and may be considered slightly risqué for high tea. You can wear stunning midi styles, knee-length skirts, maxi skirts and styles with flared hems that will flatter your figure without looking out of place.
To avoid a fashion faux pas from mismatched clothing, pair your skirt with a simple blouse or fitted knit top for an eye-catching style that gives you room to accessorize. When the weather starts to cool down, throw on a cashmere shawl, a timeless trench coat and a pair of nude tights to transition your outfit into the winter months.
You’ll want to wear blouses with skirts or tailored pants to create an irresistible outfit that will have all eyes on you. Not only will blouses lend your outfit an air of sophistication, but loose options are ideal for hiding any post-pastry bloating from prying eyes.
Pretty white blouses can be a timeless look with most outfits because these tops don’t pull focus but a lightweight pastel design worn with a hat or statement bag can elevate your ensemble. If you’re planning to make a statement with colored pants or a textured skirt, avoid blouses with distracting patterns or see-through lace.
Dressy pants are a smart casual and conservative choice for high tea and can look stylish when tailored properly. While you’ll want to avoid harem pants and jeans, elegant cigarette pants, chinos or well-cut culottes can elevate your style. If you want to play around with hemlines, try pairing an iconic white vest with a pair of dressy flares for a retro look that’s all about breaking boundaries without looking garish. If you’d prefer to play it safe, rock a pair of lightweight tailored pants with a flowing blouse and chic blazer for the ultimate boss babe feel.
When the cooler weather starts to bite, sweaters will become your best friend. You’ll want to consider color carefully before landing on a style, as overly bright colors will draw focus for the wrong reasons. To keep your outfit charming and flawless, stick with shades like teal, deep green, berry, soft pink and violet. Not only are these tones skin-flattering, but they’ll add a pop of color to your outfit without overwhelming it. Simple cardigans pair well with everything from dressy pants to understated dresses, but you can also rock a chunky knitted cardigan if your accessories and footwear are elegant enough.
The footwear you choose for high tea will depend entirely on your outfit, but any shoes you rock should look alluring and stylish. High nude heels are always a classy and reliable option, but you can rock delicate shades like blush pink, tan or white for a pretty springtime feel. If you prefer shorter kicks, cute kitten heels or trendy platforms are excellent alternatives that will make you look like a gorgeous extra from Downton Abbey.
To keep your style effortlessly feminine, pair your heels with simple accessories and a refined dress for a timeless style that’s bound to impress. For women who prefer flat shoes, pretty ballerina flats or leather mules are reliable options that never sacrifice comfort.
When it comes to accessorizing, the right jewelry for your afternoon tea outfit should complement your outfit, meaning anything low-maintenance and dainty will work well. Simple and short necklaces with delicate pendants always look stunning and they’ll draw attention to your collarbones for a ravishing appearance. To pull your outfit together, throw on a preppy charm bracelet and a pair of classic hoops to showcase your features.
For a dose of old-school Hollywood glamour, try a matching pearl necklace and earring set to add regal elegance to your ensemble. If in doubt, choose jewelry that matches your undertones. This is usually silver jewelry for those with cool undertones and gold pieces for olive or dark-skinned women.
Hats are a bold and refreshing way to make a statement during an elegant high tea. Although they’re less commonly worn these days, small-brimmed hats, fascinators and classic pillbox hats are sophisticated choices that will highlight your facial structure beautifully. White and camel-colored hats are the most popular options as they’re incredibly versatile. You can also showcase your personality with new-age shapes, oversized bows and vibrant colors for a charming finish. If you want to add character to a hat you already own, adorn it with feathers or flowers for a unique look that still feels formal.
You’ll want to wear chic and subtle accessories for afternoon tea to create an attractive and understated outfit that exudes sophistication. Jewel-encrusted clutch bags will make a strong statement, but you can also choose a nude crossbody or slouchy tote bag for a more relaxed feel.
If you’re blinded by the summer sun while dining on the patio, a pair of designer sunglasses can take your outfit to the next level. Cat-eye sunglasses are the most attractive for high tea, but oversized black frames are a feminine option that will flatter most face shapes.
For a youthful and modern feel, an embellished or braided headband can be the perfect finishing touch. To avoid pulling focus and creating unsightly clashes, keep all accessories neutral and aligned with the main colors in your outfit.
High Tea Outfits
Stylish Flowing Dress
A stylish flowing dress is a gorgeous way to add irresistible charm to any outfit. These feminine dresses are usually paired with high heels and a simple cardigan or blazer, but a cute pair of ballerina flats or closed-toe platforms are equally stunning if you’d rather prioritize comfort over height.
If you’re heading to high tea during the summer months, stick with relaxed materials like airy cotton or linen to keep things cool and comfortable. As you move into fall and winter, a designer scarf will keep your neck warm without looking too casual.
For a beautiful outfit with a vintage feel, try an old-fashioned tea dress with a pair of timeless Mary Jane shoes and a string of delicate pearls. If you want to take things a step further, rock a small off-white fascinator and a pair of lace gloves for a unique look that’s reminiscent of the Victorian era. To add a feminine edge to your look, switch things up with a pair of dainty kitten heels and a sweet cloche hat that harks back to the Flapper period.
Although you can rock darker colors to high tea, this upscale occasion is an ideal opportunity to experiment with playful pastel shades and bold floral patterns.
Classy Pant Suit
The classy pantsuit may not be a typical choice for high tea, but it can be a polished and fashion-forward option for trendsetters. To create a stylish ensemble, pair a lightweight linen suit with a matching blouse and heels for an effortlessly chic monochrome look.
You can stick with pastels, nude or white shades, but may want to make a strong statement with muted navy or emerald green suits. If you want to go bolder, a flowing floral blouse and a pair of sky-high nude stilettos will add interest and flair to your look without being overly dramatic.
For extra glamour, throw on a fascinator in the same color family as your suit and accessorize with diamond teardrop earrings and a pretty necklace. If you’re blessed with ravishing dark skin, gold hoops and a complementary metal choker are beautiful choices that will boost any outfit.
An elegant jumpsuit is a unique and versatile outfit that will make you stand out at afternoon tea. For petite ladies, a high-waisted jumpsuit paired with a pair of adorable kitten heels is a gorgeous way to elongate the legs.
For taller women, a bright white jumpsuit with charming mules, a wide-brimmed hat and a simple leather clutch can bring out your inner goddess. If you’re wearing a sleeveless jumpsuit, cover your arms with a cashmere cardigan or tailored blazer. To finish your look, pick out a statement ring and a dainty necklace to showcase your décolletage.
Chic Blouse and Skirt
If you want to rock a chic blouse and skirt for a modern and attractive style, don’t be afraid to experiment with different lengths and subtle patterns to find your perfect match. To stay aligned with the refined afternoon tea vibe, stick with skirts that are loose-fitting and cinch you in at the waist to achieve a timeless feminine silhouette.
Midi skirts are the most popular option as they’re modest and versatile, but maxi dresses and shorter A-line styles can also be classy options when worn with the right blouse. To avoid overwhelming your outfit, choose a basic white blouse and keep your skirt as the focal point.
Whether you prefer a delicate silk skirt in a slip style or a low-maintenance pleated skirt with a floral pattern, you’ll look perfectly graceful and cute. An oversized headband and a small shoulder bag can seamlessly pull your look together, but don’t be afraid to keep things simple by tying your hair back into a bun and opting for delicate jewelry instead.
Matching Skirt Sets
Matching skirt sets are often reserved for business-casual events, but they’re also a killer choice for women who adore upscale outfits with a preppy edge. As these outfits are naturally structured, avoid loud patterns and stick with tweed, florals or block colors for a striking result. While most matching sets are tailored, you’ll want to shop around for fashionable two-piece matching sets made from neoprene for an effortlessly feminine appearance.
If you have a limitless budget, head to designer stores like Chanel for sets that wouldn’t look out of place at the Hamptons. To keep your outfit looking cohesive, finish your look with refined jewelry, a neutral bag and a pair of short heels that won’t overwhelm your style.