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High Tea Dress Code: Dos, Don’ts, and Outfit Ideas

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High tea dress code dos and don'ts, by fashion blogger What The Fab

I recently received a high tea invite and had no clue what the proper high tea dress code is—if you’re in the same boat, I’ve got you covered with all the dos, don’ts, and outfit ideas! 

I’m visiting London again soon, and I’m definitely going to go for high tea in one of the many fancy hotel lounges and country clubs scattered around town.

I didn’t know exactly what to wear or what NOT to wear, so I’ve been researching!

Click the images below to shop for the perfect outfit to fit a high tea dress code:

Before going to a high tea party, you have to come prepared and dressed to impress, which means no jeans, sneakers, or crop tops.

I’ve learned all the tips and tricks of dressing for a formal afternoon tea, so let’s jump into this high tea dress code and style guide.

To make things easy for you, you can shop for these products by clicking directly on the images, the shopping buttons, and the text links. 

These are my affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission when you purchase using my links (at no additional cost to you!), and I greatly appreciate you shopping with my links!

High Tea Dress Code: Dos, Don’ts, and Outfit Ideas

What is High Tea?

High tea might sound like an overly-formal affair, but it’s just a fancier version of afternoon tea.

In the U.K., high tea is considered a special occasion where friends and family dress up to enjoy good conversation and yummy finger food.

The main difference between afternoon tea and high tea is that high tea is hosted in a formal setting, while afternoon tea is more casual.

Since high tea is a classy occasion, you’ll want to put some extra effort into your appearance and dress your best. 

Not sure where to start when it comes to dressing for high tea? Don’t worry—keep reading for my recommendations on what to wear and what to avoid.

Start shopping for my favorite high tea attire by clicking below:

What is the Formal High Tea Dress Code?

When you’re invited to high tea, the invitation will typically specify the dress code, but generally, you can expect it to be a semi-formal event.

For women, you’ll want to follow traditional high tea etiquette and wear a modest dress or skirt with closed-toe shoes.

You can also accessorize with a hat or gloves, though this will depend on whether the high tea is being hosted inside or outside. 

Men, meanwhile, should wear a collared shirt and trousers—they can also add a blazer or tie.

The high tea dress code could be summed up as “smart casual fashion,” meaning items like chic maxi dresses and blouses are a safe bet.

Above-the-knee skirts and dresses are acceptable, but avoid going too short and try to keep the cleavage and cut-outs to a minimum.

What Do You Wear to High Tea?

To dress appropriately for high tea, you’ll want to aim for a casual yet polished look. 

A flowy dress or skirt paired with a blouse and low heels is a great outfit for high tea time because you’ll look classy but won’t have to sacrifice comfort.

When putting together the perfect high tea party outfit, imagine you’re headed to an upscale brunch or garden party. 

You’ll want to leave the leggings, Birkenstocks, and athletic tanks at home!

Shop for my favorite high-tea clothing items by clicking the images below:

Can You Wear Pants to High Tea?

Depending on the style and fit, you might be able to pull off wearing business casual dress pants to high tea. 

Make sure they’re made from a material like cotton or linen and aren’t skin-tight or overly baggy—the pants should be something you would wear to the office.

I know jeans are a safe go-to usually, but they’re frowned upon for high tea.

It’s important to be respectful of the traditions and customs of high tea, and denim is considered an inappropriate choice because it’s too casual.

If you’re going to wear pants to high tea, pair them with a loose blouse or modest top and lightweight blazer, and you’ll be good to go.

High tea dress code dos and don'ts, by fashion blogger What The Fab
Image via Nordstrom

What Shoes Should You Wear to High Tea?

When it comes to shoes, you want to choose something comfortable, like a nice pair of ballet flats or low-heeled pumps.

Whatever footwear you decide on, make sure they’re clean and polished to give you a cohesive look—I recommend sticking with closed-toe shoes.

Avoid wearing sneakers or sky-high stilettos because you’ll probably turn heads for the wrong reasons. 

Click below to shop for the best high tea dress code outfit:

Do You Have to Wear a Hat to High Tea?

While hats aren’t required for high tea, they’re perfectly acceptable and can be a stylish finishing touch.

I never get to wear big hats, so I would take advantage of the occasion and style my party attire with a fancy hat.

Just make sure the hat is chic and doesn’t look like a tacky costume piece.

High Tea Outfit Ideas

High tea dress code dos and don'ts, by fashion blogger What The Fab
Image via Abercrombie

Floral Midi Dress

When in doubt, opt for a classic floral midi dress—it’s the perfect afternoon tea outfit to look effortlessly put together with minimal effort. 

This Abercrombie Emerson Poplin Puff Sleeve Midi Dress is a good choice because it’s fashionable but modest.

The Poplin Mini Dress perfectly balances comfort and style, and floral dresses are ideal for outdoor high tea parties.  

Pair this Puff Sleeve Dress with a pair of low-heeled sandals and a small handbag, and you’re ready to go.

Image via SHEIN

Blouse and Maxi Skirt

One of my favorite looks for high tea is a chic blouse paired with a flowy maxi skirt—the SHEIN Ruffle Hem Skirt is the perfect place to start when styling a high tea outfit. 

This Double Flutter Short Sleeve Top is a great pick for warm, sunny days, and you can pair it with a neutral pair of ballet flats.

Finish the look with a fashionable wide-brim hat, and you’ll be the belle of the ball.

Image via Forever 21

Lightweight Jacket and Pants

My last high tea outfit idea for you is a lightweight jacket and pant combo. 

Start with a light-wash pair of High-Rise Authentic Chinos from Banana Republic and add a basic short sleeve tee or tank. 

Dress things up, add a subtle pop of color with a loose blazer and slingback kitten heels, and prepare to impress.

You’ll be the best-dressed partygoer with this guide to everything you need to know about high tea fashion!

Next time you attend a high tea, tag me on Insta (@wtfab) so I can see what outfit you put together.

Find the perfect outfit for a high tea dress code by clicking the images below:

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What is high tea?

High tea is a formal event where you gather with friends and family to enjoy traditional afternoon tea and finger foods like sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and cookies.

Can you wear jeans to high tea?

Denim is a no-no for high tea guests because it’s too casual.

What shoes should you wear to high tea?

I recommend wearing closed-toe heels, flats, and sandals when attending a British afternoon tea party.

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