A favourite in the fashion circles, a High Tea event is the epitome of feminine, ladylike style. From artisanal teas to award winning cakes, this event is the quintessential female get-together; a special day full of cake, culture and chit-chat. But how do you dress for a prim and proper occasion fit for a royal? After all, a High Tea really is the ultimate daytime event.

What to Wear to a High Tea

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A High Tea is quiet positively the most lavish way to spend an afternoon! This classic British tradition, originating in mid 1700s has now become a fashionable afternoon event, enjoyed worldwide. From decadent costumes reminiscent of the romantic days of F. Scott Fitzgerald to contemporary spreads at some of Australia’s newest (and coolest) hotels, a High Tea is the perfect occasion to dress up with your friends and enjoy an afternoon of opulence.

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The Perfect High Tea Dress

High tea, like your outfit, should be traditional but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Most venues have a fairly relaxed ‘smart casual’ dress code, so that means leaving your sneakers and distressed jeans at home, avoiding anything too short, low cut or with too many cut outs. The chances are, you’re celebrating something special, so when it comes to dressing for a High Tea, why not add a little bit of decadence, like the good old days! Our style guide will help you strike the balance between traditional and contemporary along with some do’s and don’ts for your next (or first) High Tea.

English Rose

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Indulge your feminine side and be inspired by the quintessential English Rose! Think ruffles, bows and beautiful floral prints. As this is a daytime event, keep your colour palette light and soft, choosing from styles with textured or printed fabrics. Be inspired by our luxurious, ready to wear collection of dresses featuring British designer, Self Portrait and Australian favourites, Nicholas the Label and Pasduchas.

With dresses crafted from stunning guipure lace, our must-have collection of ultra feminine midi dresses, boast fabulous florals, feminine frills as well as sophisticated and ladylike fit and flare silhouettes. If you’re the kind of girl that likes to dress up, then you’re going to love this. Fun, feminine and oh so chic, a High Tea is your opportunity to wear the prettiest of dresses!

Parisian Chic

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If sleek is more your style, dress like the world’s chicest woman and ooze Parisian elegance at your next High Tea. This look is a little bit more casual but still has attitude. Be inspired by refined dresses by Australian designers such as, Rebecca Vallance with styles that define your waist and elongate your legs, accentuating your figure in a sophisticated and striking way.

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Keep your look fresh and contemporary for this fabulous daytime event with dresses boasting high quality fabrications, asymmetric hemlines, high necklines and statement sleeves. This is your chance to dress up and show off your femininity with a little bit of understated glamour! Don’t hold back, after all, this isn’t your everyday treat, so why wear your everyday dress! Red lipstick is your secret weapon, don’t forget to wear it!

Is it ok not to wear a dress?

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In a word, yes. Traditionally, the attire worn by women to a High Tea embodied extravagance and opulence, which meant dresses complete with bustles, lace, silk, satin and over the top details; all the trappings of a bygone era. Whilst a certain level of formality has remained for contemporary High Tea events, old age dress codes are no longer applicable and contemporary style prospers.

We are but creatures of comfort and it is absolutely acceptable to wear pants or a skirt to a High Tea event. Choose dressier fabrics like silk, cashmere and leather and opt for something you’ll feel feminine in. Be inspired by minimalist silhouettes, pencil skirts with romantic free flowing blouses or long satin skirts with structured tops. Simple clothes that are super effective. Elegance is key, after all a High Tea is a centuries old tradition with an unwritten dress code that we should gracefully honour.

What do I wear to a relaxed venue?

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High Tea celebrations are becoming increasingly more popular. From Bridal Showers and Mother’s Day to good old fashioned catch-ups with your girlfriends, the demand for the afternoon tradition, which sole purpose is for eating, has become much more accessible and we couldn’t be happier! Not only is High Tea hosted by prestigious hotels frequented by the few, you’re now just as likely to find your local café offering a special occasion High Tea as you are the Hilton! Regardless of the location, it is important to remember that any venue hosting a High Tea event will have put a lot of thought and effort into the afternoon. With that in mind, it is important that as a guest, you still dress the part.

For a more relaxed or informal afternoon look, opt for a low heel or a pair of flat pumps to tone down your look, plus shoes you can actually walk in, are always a bonus! Keep your hair and makeup simple and opt for pants or a light jacket or cardigan, depending on the season will also help relax your look while still letting you flaunt your favourite tea dress!

High Tea Do’s and Don’ts

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As a long time tea drinker, I embarked on my first High Tea without a care in the world however upon arrival, I soon realised there was a little more etiquette involved than I had anticipated. So no matter where you are enjoying your first High Tea occasion, take note of the few things I wish I had known before my first High Tea, so you can be guaranteed a delicious, carefree afternoon.

  • Do use clotted cream and put it on your scone first, followed by jam. The scone construction debate goes back decades, do you put the jam on first or the cream? We say cream first, jam second. It’s more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Do use loose leaf tea, it’s super fresh and tastes much better. Tailor it to your personal taste, adding sugar, milk or lemon!
  • Do let your tea steep for as long as you like but we recommend three to six minutes to avoid damaging the taste.
  • Do stir your tea delicately, being careful not to clink the china. And in case you were wondering what the ‘correct’ way to stir your tea is; start by placing your spoon in the six o’clock position, folding the tea gently towards twelve o’clock. Kate Middleton eat your heart out!
  • Don’t add milk first. Pour the tea first, milk second.
  • Don’t add milk to anything but black tea.
  • Don’t dunk anything into your tea. Leave that for home!
  • Don’t hold your cup with your pinkie out, it’s a high tea faux pas!

Whether your High Tea event is a once in a lifetime occasion, or how you prefer to spend your Saturday’s, hiring a dress will add a little opulence to your next ultra luxe afternoon. With everything being served in miniature portions, a part of the fun is being as dressy as the delicious sweets in front of you. From sparkling sugar to clotted cream and delicate finger shaped sandwiches, don’t forget to choose a dress with a little stretch as you enjoy a tower of sandwiches, scones and cakes.

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