How to Dress for a Tea Party: The Essential Guide

There’s something undeniably charming and timeless about tea parties. The delicate porcelain, the aroma of freshly brewed tea, and the delightful finger foods all set the stage for an elegant and sophisticated gathering.

But what truly sets the tone for a perfect tea party is the tea party attire. In this guide, we will delve into the world of tea party dress codes, accessories, and even some etiquette tips, to help you make your next tea party a stylish and memorable event.

Short Summary

  • Attendees of tea parties should dress in modest, feminine garments such as knee-length dresses and cardigans.
  • Accessories and footwear should be chosen to match the theme and formality of the event.
  • Etiquette rules for wearing appropriate attire, and displaying proper behavior must be followed for a successful experience.

Tea Party Dress Code Basics

Tea party dress codes emphasize elegance, modesty, and smart casual attire for both men and women. Here are some guidelines for tea party outfits.

  • Women are expected to wear knee-length or longer dresses.
  • Fabrics such as cotton, linen, or silk are ideal.
  • Soft neutral tones and pastel colors, including soft pink, blue, mint, white, cream, and peach, are recommended.

Dressing appropriately for the occasion is essential, as it shows respect for your host and fellow guests. Most tea parties are not overly formal, but they do require a certain level of sophistication in attire. Whether you’re attending a garden tea party or a more formal high tea, adhering to the dress code will ensure that you feel confident and comfortable throughout the event.

In this example, we chose a white embroidered maxi dress with white slingback sandals and a blue classic handbag.

  1. Tyler Ellis: Winnie Bag
  2. Paco Rabanne: Broderie Anglaise Cotton Midi Shirt Dress
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Slingback Sandals

Women’s Tea Party Attire

When it comes to women’s tea party attire, the focus is on dresses, skirts, blouses, and tops that are feminine, modest, and suitable for the occasion. Lightweight fabrics, pastel colors, and floral prints are preferred, helping to create a soft and elegant look.

Dresses and Skirts

Dresses and skirts for tea parties should be knee-length or longer, with options including floral patterns, lace details, and vintage-inspired designs. The most desired shades are whites and pastels. Lace embroidery around the sleeves, neckline, belt, and hems was a fashionable way to embellish garments for a casual tea party in the 1920s.

In these examples, we have illustrated how to combine white with green and golden shades. We chose classic accessories like a satin shoulder bag and a clutch and shoes – pumps and slingback sandals.

  1. Madeleine Thompson: Allegra Cable-Knit Wool and Cashmere Cardigan
  2. Adam Lippes: Floral-Print Cotton-Blend Midi Dress
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Croc-Effect Slingback Sandals
  1. Bulgari: Serpenti Baia Bag
  2. Victoria Beckham: Scalloped Flared Stretch-Knit Midi Dress
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps
  1. Emilia Wickstead: Adele Pleated Floral-Print Duchesse-Satin Midi Dress
  2. Anya Hindmarch: Maud Woven Tassel Clutch
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Gold Slingback Sandals

Blouses and Tops

Blouses and tops for tea parties should be elegant and modest, with options including ruffled or puffy sleeves, pastel colors, and delicate details. Edwardian-era fashion, known for its elegance and sophistication, is another great inspiration for tea party outfits, with blouses featuring full-length sleeves, dainty cuffs, high collars, and lace embroidery near the collarbone.

The Great Gatsby-inspired dresses, characterized by their use of silk, wool, cotton, and rayon fabrics, and prints such as:

  • simple geometric patterns
  • polka dots
  • stripes
  • florals

A skirt and blouse combo can also serve as an excellent choice for tea party blouses and tops. Remember to select pieces that are both elegant and modest, ensuring that you are dressed appropriately for the occasion.

For creating timeless ensembles, opt for midi or maxi skirts, or high-waisted wide-leg pants. Layer with cardigans or blazers for added dimension. A key to achieving refined and polished looks is the use of monochrome pastel hues.

  1. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Gold Slingback Sandals
  2. Alessandra Rich: Sequin-Embellished Metallic Cotton-Blend Bouclé-Tweed Blazer
  3. Valentino Garavani: Silk-Crepe Wide-Leg Pants
  1. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Gold Slingback Sandals
  2. Adam Lippes: One-Shoulder Ruffled Cotton-Poplin Top
  3. Alexander McQueen: Wool Wide-Leg Pants
  1. Lock & Co. Hatters: Amal Hat
  2. Dries van Noten: Cotton-Piqué Peplum Vest
  3. Valentino Garavani: Silk-Crepe Wide-Leg Pants

Tea Party Themes and Attire

Different tea party themes call for specific fashion styles. For example, a garden tea party might require light, airy clothing with floral patterns or pastel colors, while a vintage tea party theme might feature dresses inspired by various eras, such as the 1920s, Victorian, or Edwardian periods.

For a more formal tea party, high tea attire, such as elegant cocktail dresses, might be the best choice for elegant and sophisticated attire at a high tea party.

Garden Tea Party

A garden tea party outfit should be light, and airy, and feature floral prints or pastel colors, perfectly capturing the essence of the event. Floral patterns are an essential element of tea party attire, particularly for garden or lawn parties, as they beautifully complement the natural surroundings.

Comfortable footwear and accessories, such as wide-brimmed hats or fascinators, are also important for a garden tea party. These not only add an extra touch of elegance to your outfit but also provide practical protection from the sun during outdoor gatherings.

To create outfits suitable for the garden, we chose pink, yellow and green colors. We thought about the comfort during the party and the fact that an additional layer of warmth with a cardigan might be needed.

  1. Tory Burch: Belted Pleated Silk-Blend Midi Dress
  2. Bottega Veneta: Knot Intrecciato Leather Clutch
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Slingback Sandals
  1. Paco Rabanne: Broderie Anglaise Cotton Midi Shirt Dress
  2. Dôen: Rive Cable-Knit Alpaca-Blend Cardigan
  3. Gucci: Horsebit-Detailed Leather Pumps
  1. Maison Michel: Kiki Seed Pearl Felt Canotier Hat
  2. Madeleine Thompson: Allegra Cable-Knit Wool and Cashmere Cardigan
  3. Valentino Garavani: Silk-Crepe Wide-Leg Pants

Vintage Tea Party

Vintage tea party dress code can include dresses inspired by various eras, such as the 1920s, Victorian, or Edwardian periods, adding a sense of nostalgia and charm to the event. These styles often feature intricate detailing, lace accents, and classic silhouettes that evoke a bygone era of elegance and sophistication.

To complete your vintage tea party look, consider accessories like gloves, hats, and delicate jewelry. These timeless pieces not only enhance your outfit but also help create an authentic vintage atmosphere that is sure to impress your fellow guests.

To illustrate the example, we chose a vintage-style belted dress and combined it with modern accessories. Notice that pastel blue shades are easy to combine with beige.

  1. Huishan Zhang: Susan Belted Frayed Tweed Midi Dress
  2. Serapian: 1928 Off-White Mosaico Bag
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps

Tea Party Accessories

Tea party accessories should be elegant and complement the outfit, adding that final touch of sophistication to your ensemble. Options include:

  • Hats or fascinators
  • Gloves
  • Delicate jewelry such as pearl necklaces or dainty earrings
  • Hair accessories like headbands or scarves

When selecting accessories for your tea party outfit, consider the theme and formality of the event, as well as your style. For instance, a garden tea party might require a wide-brimmed hat and floral jewelry, while a more formal tea party could require a delicate fascinator and pearl earrings.

In the first two examples, we created formal outfits with a fascinator hat and gemstone jewelry. In the third example, we chose semi-formal attire and modern accessories.

  1. Lock & Co. Hatters: Amal Hat
  2. Safiyaa: Flora Cape-Effect Crepe Midi Dress
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps
  1. David Yurman: Stax 18-Karat Gold Diamond and Emerald Bracelet
  2. Monique Lhuillier: Strapless Pleated Floral-Print Silk-Piqué Midi Dress
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps
  1. Huishan Zhang: Susan Belted Frayed Tweed Midi Dress
  2. Givenchy: Antigona Leather-Trimmed Embroidered Canvas Tote
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Gold Slingback Sandals

Footwear for Tea Parties

Footwear for tea parties should be comfortable and stylish, ensuring that you can enjoy the event without any discomfort. Suitable options for women include:

  • Closed-toe pumps
  • Dressy sandals
  • Kitten heels
  • Ballet flats

It is important to avoid wearing inappropriate footwear such as sneakers or flip-flops, as these choices can detract from the overall elegance of your tea party outfit. Instead, select shoes that complement your attire and help create a polished and sophisticated look.

In this example, we demonstrate how shoes should maintain a neutral role in complementing the style of this particular outfit.

  1. Hermès: Costume de Fete Silk Scarf
  2. Alexander McQueen: Cotton-Poplin Midi Shirt Dress
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Callasli 90 Croc-Effect Slingback Sandals

Seasonal Tea Party Outfit

When dressing for a tea party, it is essential to consider the season and choose appropriate attire accordingly. Lighter fabrics and colors, such as linen and pastels, are more suitable for spring and summer tea parties, while warmer options like cardigans, blazers, and stockings are more appropriate for fall and winter gatherings.

For summer tea parties, linen vest sets or lightweight dresses in vibrant hues or pastel shades are ideal. In contrast, a tweed skirt and blazer set or a cozy cardigan paired with a dress can be a suitable choice for a winter event. Whether you’re attending an afternoon tea or hosting one, these outfit ideas will ensure you know what to wear to a tea and that you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion.

Always remember to dress appropriately for the season, ensuring that you are comfortable and stylish throughout the event.

We showed a high tea party example with a classic coat and fascinator hat.

  1. Lock & Co. Hatters: Amal Hat
  2. Gucci: Button-Embellished Wool Coat
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps

Tea Party Etiquette

Following proper tea party etiquette is essential in creating a pleasant atmosphere for all guests. This includes:

  • Wearing the appropriate attire and accessories
  • Displaying proper behavior
  • Following the lead of the host

When consuming tea and finger foods, it is important to take small bites and sips and to wait for others to finish their course before beginning the next one. By adhering to these etiquette rules, you can ensure that you are not only dressed appropriately but also behaving in a manner that is respectful and considerate to your fellow guests.


In summary, dressing for a tea party requires a balance of elegance, sophistication, and attention to detail. From selecting the perfect attire and accessories to following proper etiquette, every aspect of your party ensemble contributes to the overall atmosphere and enjoyment of the event. Whether you’re attending a garden tea party, a vintage-inspired gathering, or a formal high tea, remember to dress appropriately and enjoy the timeless charm of this delightful tradition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to dress for a tea party?

When attending a tea party, it is best to dress smart casually. Choose light and floral-printed pieces such as a tea-length dress that ends 2-4 inches above the ankle for a beautiful, sun-ready look.

This look is perfect for a garden party or a day out in the sun. Accessorize with a light cardigan or a sun hat for a complete look.

What do you wear to an afternoon tea party?

For an afternoon party, opt for a smart casual outfit which typically means no trainers, t-shirts, shorts, or sportswear. You can wear dresses such as midi or maxi length or a nice blouse paired with a skirt.

Pastel colors and floral prints are also great options for the occasion.

What is the dress code for high tea?

For high tea, formal attire is a must, such as suits and ties for men and formal dresses for women. To achieve the best look, it’s important to avoid wearing anything too revealing or flashy. Classic pieces are recommended.

Featured image by Niko MonDì.

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