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Chic Style Guide for an Elegant Tea Party Ceremony

Chic Style Guide for an Elegant Tea Party Ceremony

Tea parties, marked by their delightful atmosphere, offer a unique and enjoyable experience. From dainty finger foods to steaming pots of tea and a palette of vibrant pastel hues, these gatherings are synonymous with relaxation and socializing among friends. Rooted in English tradition, tea parties boast a rich history.

If you find yourself invited to a tea party and are uncertain about the appropriate attire, our guide is at your service. Here, we provide insights into the typical elements of a tea party and offer fashion advice to ensure you make a chic impression at your upcoming tea gathering.

Anticipated Highlights of a Tea Party Experience

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Tea gatherings trace their origins back to the 17th century, specifically in 1662, when Catherine of Braganza hosted a tea party after her marriage to King Charles II in England. Initially exclusive to royalty and the affluent, this tradition began to shift in the 19th to 20th centuries, with the emergence of public tea parties. Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, played a pivotal role in this transformation by introducing the afternoon tea tradition around 1840, intended to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner.

Originally designed to accommodate the changing meal schedules brought about by industrialization, afternoon tea gained popularity. During early tea parties, both men and women attended, with men favoring coffee while women opted for tea. The gatherings showcased tiered arrangements of sandwiches, sweets, teas, and accompanying treats. The strict etiquette that initially surrounded tea parties has considerably relaxed over the years.

Contemporary tea parties maintain a relaxed and social ambiance, featuring an array of both savory and sweet foods. While tea remains the predominant beverage, modern variations may include options like coffee or non-caffeinated alternatives. Dress codes for tea parties persist today, requiring attendees to adhere to specific attire guidelines, a topic we delve into further below.

Popular Themes for Tea Parties

Tea gatherings often embrace various themes, each offering a distinctive ambiance. In the following overview, Amarra provide a concise exploration of some prevalent tea party themes and offer tailored suggestions for adjusting your outfit accordingly.

  • Garden Party

The garden-themed tea party stands out as a popular choice, characterized by its relaxed and sociable atmosphere. Typically hosted outdoors in garden settings, covered balconies, or areas surrounded by lush greenery, these events exude a casual vibe.

Garden parties often feature a dress code with a more laid-back feel, where pastel colors predominate. Attendees commonly don spring or summer dresses and skirts, reflecting the natural hues and beauty of the surroundings. If the weather is anticipated to be warm, expect to see attendees donning sun hats to complement the delightful ambiance.

  • High Tea

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While many people may perceive high tea as a formal affair, the prescribed dress code is not as rigid as one might anticipate. High tea represents a heartier iteration of the traditional tea party, emulating the customary afternoon tea practice. Designed to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner, high tea maintains a light fare, yet offers a wider selection.

The attire guidelines for high tea lean towards semi-casual, expecting attendees to appear well-groomed without appearing overly formal. Optimal choices include longer dresses, garments with long sleeves, and attire that is more modest such as dresses, blouses, or coordinated two-piece outfits. It is advisable to consider whether the high tea event is indoors or outdoors when planning your outfit.

  • Vintage

Vintage tea parties celebrate romantic ideals from bygone eras, offering a diverse range of historical themes. While the 1920s and 1950s are frequently chosen as the backdrop for these gatherings, the Victorian era remains a favored option. While dress codes aren't excessively formal, attendees are generally encouraged to attire themselves in line with the chosen era for the vintage tea party.

  • Formal

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Elevate your style for formal tea gatherings with a touch of glamour. Opt for semi-formal or formal cocktail dresses, and choose long gowns based on the venue and dress code specifications. Formal tea parties stand out as distinctive events, surpassing the casual ambiance of garden parties. Anticipate indulgent tea selections and gourmet offerings, complemented by upscale indoor or outdoor settings. In contrast to the vibrant tones, pastels, and busy patterns associated with casual events, formal tea parties often feature refined color palettes.

The Tea Party Dress Code

Fortunately, many of us can take comfort in the fact that dress codes for tea parties offer considerable flexibility, alleviating concerns about attire selection. The formality levels vary based on the type of tea party and the venue hosting it. Suitable choices often include summer or spring dresses, elegant flowing gowns, vintage dresses for a more formal touch, as well as two-piece ensembles like skirts with blouses or pants paired with blouses.

The appropriateness of bright, bold colors or pastel hues depends on the overarching theme of the tea party. Nature-inspired patterns can be embraced for both outdoor and indoor events. Accessories such as hats are commonly adorned at tea parties, along with more formal additions like jewelry and gloves.

To ensure you arrive in style, it's advisable to check with the tea party host and consider factors like the venue and the season, allowing you to make a fashionably fitting entrance.

Tea Party Outfit Ideas

Understanding the appropriate attire for a tea party can pose a challenge. That's why we delve into the prevalent wardrobe choices for tea party gatherings below, providing you with inspiration and ideas.

  • Dresses

Tea parties commonly feature dresses, with the dress code influenced by the season and venue. The length and sleeve style of your dress depend on these factors. For garden parties and casual tea gatherings, opt for summer dresses characterized by flowing designs, light fabrics, floral patterns, and pastel hues.

At vintage tea parties, the appropriateness of bolder colors hinges on the specific era and the event's formality. Vibrant jewel tones, deep reds, and blues may be acceptable, but it's advisable to avoid vivid neons and metallic shades.

Formal tea parties necessitate either a cocktail dress or a full-length gown. However, a maxi dress can be considered if elevated with more formal accessories to align with the occasion's dress code.

  • Two-Piece Outfits

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If dresses aren't your preference, opt for a stylish two-piece ensemble. This could consist of a skirt paired with a blouse or dress pants matched with a blouse. Avoid jeans and denim, as they are too informal for the tea party dress code. When selecting a skirt, you can go for either a longer floor-length or a shorter one, but ensure it maintains an appropriate length, avoiding anything that rises too far above the knee, as this is not suitable for a tea party setting.

  • Accessories

Elevate your tea party ensemble with accessories, offering a myriad of options to infuse a touch of glamour. While hats stand out as a popular choice, you'll also encounter elbow-length gloves and petite clutch purses. Opt for understated jewelry to maintain the relaxed and social ambiance of the tea gathering, steering clear of oversized or attention-grabbing pieces. However, if your vintage attire or a formal, upscale tea party beckons, feel free to enhance your look with more intricate jewelry to add a touch of sophistication.

  • Shoes

Selecting footwear for your tea party ensemble should seamlessly enhance your look without being excessively extravagant. Consider opting for ballet flats, modest heels, or stylish sandals, especially for a laid-back garden tea party. For more formal events, a pair of elevated heels or slightly more glamorous shoes may be more fitting.

Men's Fashion Guide for Tea Parties

While tea gatherings are often associated with women, including friends and bridal parties, it's important to note that men are also welcome participants. The dress code for men parallels that of women, typically leaning towards semi-formal or casual attire. Men attending a tea party might opt for slacks or a suit, or alternatively, they can combine dress pants with a collared shirt. Adding a touch of flair, such as ties in vibrant colors, vests, and dress shoes, completes the ideal ensemble for a men's tea party look.

For occasions that lean towards formality, a suit is generally recommended, with a tuxedo considered overly formal for the setting. It's advisable to avoid black and white colors, as these are perceived as too formal for the relaxed ambiance of a tea party. The key to dressing appropriately for a tea party lies in striking a balance between looking polished and presentable without veering into overly formal or extravagant territory.

Tea Party Non-Negotiables

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Tea parties, generally known for their relaxed ambiance, are not typically formal or upscale occasions. Even in the case of formal tea parties, a more laid-back atmosphere is commonly observed. Nonetheless, there are specific attire choices to avoid at a tea party, either due to their overly casual nature or their unsuitability for the occasion.

When preparing for a tea party, it is advisable to steer clear of jeans and denim, as well as outfits that are tight-fitting or have low-cut designs. Additionally, the color black should be avoided. For tea parties commemorating a bride, it is essential to refrain from wearing white to ensure the focus remains on the bride's special moment.

It is always prudent to check the provided dress code instructions for the tea party and seek clarification from the organizer if any uncertainties arise regarding appropriate attire.

Is a Hat a Must?

Certain tea gatherings may suggest or leave optional the inclusion of hats in guests' attire. Regardless of the formality, you have the flexibility to incorporate a hat into your ensemble. It's important to note, however, that wearing a hat at the tea table is generally discouraged. To clarify whether a hat is necessary, refer to the specific dress code guidelines.

Discovering Your Personal Tea Party Elegance

Tea gatherings, with their rich historical background, now typically exude a more laid-back atmosphere compared to their earlier counterparts. If you've received an invitation to a tea party, you may be pondering the appropriate attire to strike the right fashion note without any missteps. 

Prior to perusing our suggestions on tea party attire, it's essential to grasp the nature of the event and its venue. By understanding the specific tea party setting, you can confidently discover your own distinctive tea party fashion. For an exquisite selection of chic and tea party outfits, delve into our diverse range of dresses available at AMARRA

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