High Tea Attire: Exactly What To Wear To High Tea + Outfit Ideas

Learn all the basics about high tea attire and tea party attire including what to wear to high tea in 2024! You’ll also learn about what to avoid and get stunning outfit ideas to wear to your next high tea party! 

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Originally published April 29 2022, Updated Oct 30 2023

High Tea Attire For Women

Have you been invited as a guest to high tea, but have no idea what to wear? It’s no doubt you want to look your best, so I am here to help you learn all about high tea dress code and tea party attire including the best outfit choices and what you should avoid wearing.

And I’ve got the perfect tea party outfit ideas to inspire you, whether you’ll be dressing up for a really special occasion or dressing down for a more casual afternoon tea.

a woman in a blue striped dress sitting at a table enjoying high 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. It 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.

woman wearing a white tweed blazer, pleated ivory skirt, and chanel heels

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What do you wear to a High Tea?

When you’re invited to high tea, I recommend you dress in a more formal manner. Below are a some perfect high tea outfit ideas to choose from:

  • floral knee-length or midi dress 
  • midi skirt and a dressy blouse
  • classic black dress (knee length or longer with a conservative neckline is best)
  • tailored pants and blazer 
  • matching tweed pant or skirt set
  • dressy jumpsuit
  • tailored pants and a dressy blouse
image of a woman at a high tea wearing a black dress and fancy necklace

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.

If you choose to wear a dress, I recommend these options:

two women sitting on the edge of a fountain wearing formal clothing, including a dress and overcoat, tulle skirt, and heels

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 neon colors and overly loud patterns. Some great color and pattern options for high tea include:

  • White
  • Cream or Ivory
  • Navy
  • Grey
  • 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 should be 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
  • Loafers
  • Mules
  • Kitten heels
  • Pumps
  • Peep-toe heels
a woman standing on a sidewalk with greenery in the background wearing a white blouse and wide leg cream trousers and 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, 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, and avoid jeans and athletic pants.

Some great pant options for high tea include:

image of a woman walking down the sidewalk in a floral dress and a fascinator hat

Do you wear a hat to high tea?

While there is no rule saying you have to wear a hat to high tea, it is an acceptable addition! If you choose to wear a hat, make sure it coordinates with your outfit and is more formal in style. Some excellent hat options for high tea include:

Alternatively, I love the idea of wearing a chic headband with pearl or silk details. 

image of a woman at High tea wearing a pink tweed jacket and pearl headband

High Tea Dress Code

If you’re wondering about tea party attire 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 refined look.
  • 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.
  • 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.

More Tea Party Outfit Ideas To Try

High tea is typically a more formal event, so you’ll want to dress accordingly. Below are five more great tea party attire ideas to get you started.

A White Pant Suit

While it might not be your typical outfit for an afternoon, pants suits are an excellent option for those wanting to look polished at high tea. I recommend choosing a well-tailored pair of pants and match them with a sleek blazer.

You can also add a pretty blouse or camisole underneath, and finish the look with some nude heels. For an extra high tea touch, add a pillbox hat or fascinator in the same color as the pants suit. 

Pretty Floral Dress

image of a woman standing on a sidewalk in front of a green fence wearing a floral dress with a white blazer

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If you want to go the more traditional route, a pretty floral print dress is always a safe bet for an afternoon enjoying high tea. I recommend opting for dress that is knee-length or longer and made of a light, airy fabric. 

You can also add a cardigan, cropped tweed jacket, or blazer for a sophisticated touch. Then finish the look with a pair of ballet flats or low heels.

High Tea Jumpsuit

@skirttherules_, @oliviajeanette_

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This would be my top choice for tea party attire – it’s sophisticated yet comfortable!

I recommend choosing a dressy jumpsuit in a solid color or pretty print. While a jumpsuit is a more playful choice for high tea, it can still look very sophisticated and refined in a full-length style (I highly recommend you avoid a short romper).

Go with a soft flowy fabric like linen or silk, and pair it with heels and dainty jewelry to finish the look. In addition,, you can add a cardigan or blazer if you want to cover your arms.

A Blouse & Colorful Skirt

@natalie.yerger, @juliaberolzheimer

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Next on my list of outfits, midi skirts are still expected to be an on-trend piece in 2024, making for a great tea party attire option. I recommend choosing a skirt in a pretty print or a pastel color and pair it with a simple white blouse or sweater. 

You can add kitten heels or comfortable pumps, and go with a sleek hairstyle, hat, or dressy headband to complete the look. Additionally, if you are enjoying High Tea in London, be sure to check out these South London Parks and sport your stylish outfit. 

The Tweed Set

image of three women enjoying high tea wearing floral dresses and a tweed set

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For a classy and elegant look, I recommend a matching skirt set in tweed, or a cropped tweed blazer and tweed pants. There are so many different options for matching tweed sets, I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your personal style!

Add some dainty jewelry, a neutral purse, low heels or ballet flats, and you’ll be all set for an afternoon tea party with friends!

What To Wear To a Tea Party: Final Notes

If you are invited to high tea at a restaurant or a tea party themed event, there are several outfit options to choose from. Opt for a tweed set or a pretty blouse and a midi skirt. Or if you want to be more comfortable, opt for a dressy jumpsuit or pant set. 

Above all, I hope you feel inspired and more confident when it comes to appropriate tea party attire! And if you have any more questions, drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to help you on your way! 


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