Style Guide

Crafting the perfect
outfit for high tea

A celebration of all things delicious, dainty and elegant, high tea is the perfect way to socialise in style, yet the event can pose a sartorial challenge. This guide to high tea clothes and accessories ensures you’ll RSVP with confidence, with tips on navigating dress codes, seasonal high tea outfit ideas, and more.

What Is High Tea?

Afternoon tea and high tea are often used interchangeably, yet they originate from two distinct British traditions. High tea was historically a hearty evening meal served on a high table with high back chairs. Afternoon tea was a dainty afternoon affair with sandwiches, pastries and tea. Today, both a high tea party and afternoon tea party represents an enchanting mix of great company, exquisite tableware and delightful treats. A true celebration of refined elegance, they offer the perfect opportunity to elevate your usual attire.

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Is There A High Tea Dress Code?

The modern high tea dress code for ladies allows for flexibility. A high tea party provides the perfect opportunity to dress up, and you won’t feel out of place in an elegant dress or suit. Carefully chosen casual high tea outfits can also create all the refined elegance the occasion demands, so choose the level of ‘dressed’ you feel most comfortable with. Generally, high tea venues advise a smart-casual dress code, however it’s worth confirming with your venue. Their website or Instagram will offer insights into the attire worn by others, along with a glimpse at their décor—both great sources of inspiration.

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Elements Of High Tea Attire

When planning an elegant outfit to suit the occasion, your high tea essentials should strike an effortless balance between comfort and style. Opt for well-crafted garments in premium fabrics, favouring breathable natural fibres such as silk, cotton and wool, to ensure you stay comfortable throughout the event. Focus on well-fitting pieces that are suited to the season: the timeless style of a well-cut shirt, a beautifully tailored pant and a blazer crafted from premium cloth will always add up to a polished look.

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Summer High Tea Outfit Ideas

During summer, the perfect outdoor high tea outfit is grounded in elegance and ease. Warmer weather calls for lightweight, natural fabrics and elegant, pared-down combinations. A dress made from cotton, silk or linen is ideal for one-decision dressing, while a tailored linen shirt feels effortless in high humidity.

Bring personality to your summer high tea outfit by mixing and matching textures: a balance of fitted and fluid silhouettes creates a modern, relaxed feel.

Look for design details that elevate your outfit, from airy split hems to subtle prints that won’t compete with the menu.

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Winter High Tea Outfit Ideas

Planning a winter high tea outfit requires careful consideration, taking the cold weather, indoor heating and the need for elegance and comfort into account. Clever layering is an essential part of creating indoor high tea outfits, and carefully chosen fabrics make all the difference.

Soft and breathable merino knitwear provides warmth without feeling heavy, perfect for wearing under a neat cardigan or blazer.

Tailored pants add polish to these soft knit staples: opt for heritage weaves and warm, rich colours to embrace the season.

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High Tea Outfit Accessories

Complete your look with high tea accessories that carry luxury through to the last detail.

The key is to elevate and add personality to your outfit without forgoing comfort, and elegant simplicity leads the way. Think refined jewellery, a silk scarf in a complementary palette, a well-crafted leather belt, and elegant footwear perfectly suited to the season.

Lastly, consider outerwear an essential part of your outfit to ensure you arrive in style. In winter, a knee-length wool coat is a timeless choice and looks elegant paired with a knit dress in a similar length. During warmer months, reach for a cropped jacket in breathable cotton or linen-rich cloth to create a fresh, contemporary silhouette.

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