tea party dresses

How to Dress for a Tea Party: The Definitive Guide to Tea Party Fashion

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My annual sisters’ tea party is coming up, so naturally, I’ve got all things tea party on the brain! In between the practical menu planning (I can’t wait to eat some finger sandwiches), I’ve been stealing glances at websites online looking for cute tea party dresses. Can you blame me? A tea party is one of the best things to dress for! If you’ve got a tea party coming up and you’re stuck on outfit ideas and wondering, “How do you dress for a tea party?”, then this is the post for you.

Tea Party Dress Code

Ah, the dreaded dress code question. We’ve all been there, staring at our closets wondering what on earth constitutes a dress code for “so and so”. And if you’re wondering what even is “tea party attire”, I’m here to break down the tea party dress code and make sure you show up feeling fabulous.

The general rule of thumb for tea party outfits is smart casual. You want to look dressed up, but not too formal. Good options include pastel colors and floral prints in sun-ready pieces like a tea-length dress, which is a dress that falls past your knee and ends 2-4 inches above the ankle.  

Overall, think knee-length or longer, and great options for fabrics include lace, cotton, silk, or chiffon. Tea parties are all about celebrating life’s little joys, so let your dress reflect that! Don’t be afraid of a floral print or a bright color.

And if it’s a more formal event, then a nice cocktail dress would be appropriate. Though it’s best to avoid an overly formal dress, like a floor-length black satin gown as that would look out of place for afternoon tea.

When deciding what to wear to a tea party, think about what you would wear in the summer months – just slightly elevated. Such as a midi skirt, maxi skirt, or easy, breezy dress. All in all, tea party attire is all about looking put-together but not overly formal for your special occasion.

And if you’re not a dress or skirt person, don’t worry! You can wear nice dress pants with a crisp button-down shirt or blouse if that makes you feel more comfortable. Whether you’re wearing a dress or pants, complete your outfit with espadrilles, ballet flats, or low heels.

tea party dress

Tea Party Theme

Taking the party theme into consideration can help you nail down your look even more. Take a garden party for example. The quintessential garden party, where the flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping, is the perfect time to embrace the outdoors with floral prints, pastels, long skirts, and maxi dresses. Accessorize with a sun hat, sunglasses, and a lightweight cardigan or wrap for when it gets a little chilly.

Or maybe it’s a vintage tea party. Channel your inner 1920s flapper or 1950s woman. Go for vintage-inspired dresses, accessories like pearl necklaces and gloves, and don’t forget the red lipstick. Think elegant, yet fun and playful.

Is the formal tea party really more of an outdoor wedding reception? A formal tea party calls for elegant and sophisticated attire. Go for a classic cocktail dress and add some glamour with sparkly jewelry and a clutch. Keep it simple and chic.

Related: What Are Cocktail Dresses? Here’s the Answer, Plus 11 Cocktail Attire Options

High Tea Attire

High tea attire can be a confusing term, especially for those of us who don’t speak “proper” English. High tea originated in England as a substantial meal served in the late afternoon or early evening. It’s a bit like dinner, but lighter. And high tea attire is basically your regular tea party attire – dressy casual. You want to look nice, but not overdressed.

A sundress or a skirt and blouse combo would be perfect. You could also wear a nice pair of trousers and a flowy top. As for shoes, go for something comfortable yet dressy, like sandals or ballet flats.

The key to high tea attire is to look put together without looking like you’re trying too hard. So, no ballgowns! You want to be able to enjoy your tea sandwiches and scones without worrying about your attire.

Hair and Makeup

When it comes to hair and makeup for a tea party, the key is to keep it simple and elegant. A natural, fresh-faced look is always a good idea. Avoid anything too bold or flashy, as tea parties tend to be more conservative in style. Stick to natural or soft colors for your makeup, with a subtle lip color and a touch of mascara.

Your hair can be worn up or down, depending on your preference. You can add a bit of flair with a small hair accessory, such as a pearl hairpin or a delicate headband. Alternatively, you could opt for soft, loose curls or waves for a more relaxed look.

If you’re unsure of what hairstyle to choose, consider the dress code and theme of the tea party. If it’s a formal high tea, a sleek updo may be more appropriate. If it’s a garden party, soft, loose waves would complement the natural surroundings.

Ultimately, the goal with hair and makeup for a tea party is to look refined and polished, without being overly done up. Keep it simple, classic, and elegant!

Accessories

The right accessories can elevate a simple dress into a stunning ensemble fit for a tea party. First and foremost, a hat or fascinator is a must-have accessory for any tea party outfit. It’s the perfect way to complete your look while keeping the sun out of your eyes. But if wearing hats is not your thing, an elegant headband can still add a special touch.

Next up, jewelry. Opt for delicate, classic pieces that won’t overwhelm your outfit. Pearls are always a great choice for a tea party, but don’t be afraid to mix in other metals if you want to create a more unique look.

As for handbags, a clutch is always a good choice. Choose one that coordinates with your outfit, and make sure it’s small enough to carry all your essentials without overwhelming your look. Simple yet elegant is the name of the game!

You’re armed with the tea party dress code, but if you’d rather have someone else do the shopping for you – you’re in luck! I rounded up some of the cutest tea party dresses that would be perfect for your next event.

tea party dresses

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If your personal style is a bit tame (nothing wrong with that), then a dress in a solid color, like white, is a safe bet for you.

If you see garden parties as a great opportunity and a great time to dress up, then a dress with a little bit more drama is the choice for you – whether that be puff sleeves, ruffles, pleats, or bright colors.

tea party dresses

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tea party dresses

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Need more inspiration? Keep reading for a look at our last tea party! Girl’s Get-Together Idea | Tea Party

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Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.