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Ask CF: What Do I Wear to an Afternoon Tea?


Afternoon high tea
Photo: Flickr

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask CF! Every two weeks, we select a reader fashion question and answer it here on the site. Do you have a specific fashion question for us? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to send it our way!

Ask CF Question 


I’m an avid reader of the website and have been for a few years now, so now I’m faced with a fashion question and I thought I’d turn to you.

I’m attending a bridal shower at a posh afternoon tea room in April, and am stuck with what to wear! I want to be well-dressed but stay warm at the same time (the weather in London is notoriously unpredictable – it could be raining/windy/fairly warm all at the same time) and I’d like to wear nice shoes (preferably heels) that I can manage to walk across town and up and down Tube escalators in.

Thanks for your advice!

Our Response

Dear High Tea Hottie,

First of all, can I just say how fun this bridal shower sounds?! That seems like a blast! I know not everyone is lucky enough to have this sort of event coming up, but the chic and sophisticated style of high tea also works for other occasions that hit a little closer to home for the typical college fashionista, such as graduation parties or even a formal brunch.

The first style suggestion I have is to dress with extreme class, so I would gravitate toward modest hems and necklines in classic cuts. Secondly, it’s spring! Spring colors are beautiful, and pastels are very on-trend for the season, so when picking out your outfit think bright colors instead of somber ones.

Lastly, the idea of a tea party brings back childhood memories of playing dress-up, and this bridal shower is just a more mature version. The whole concept feels inherently feminine to me, so flaunt girly styles and embrace some fabulous heels that make you feel chic and confident.

Below, I’ve created three outfit suggestions fit for tea with the Queen herself. Hopefully these sets will provide you with plenty of inspiration for what to wear. Enjoy!



Outfit #1

Afternoon tea ask cf look
Product Information: Dress, Necklace, Clutch, Shoes, Sweater

This first outfit is centered around a cream-colored midi-length dress that has an unexpected yet chic asymmetrical hemline. The necklace has an antique vibe that feels elegant and classic, while the printed shoes really pop against the solid colors found throughout the rest of the outfit.

Of course, in a place like London with unpredictable weather, a sweater is a necessity. This spring green cardigan not only brightens the look, but will also keep you warm.

Outfit #2

What to wear to an afternoon tea
Product Information: Skirt, Top, Belt, Necklace, Sweater, Shoes, Purse

This second outfit has a ’50s-inspired flair, thanks to the cinched waistline and A-line midi-skirt. The embellished belt pulls the focus in to the smallest part of your waist, creating an hourglass silhouette. The pastel tote is a playful color addition that’s also the ideal size for sneaking home a few crumpets.

As with the first ensemble, this outfit can also be warmed up a bit by adding some sheer pantyhose and layering on a cardigan. Don’t forget to accessorize with a fancy statement necklace!

Outfit #3

Afternoon tea outfit
Product Information: Studs, Watch, Tank, Ankle Pants,Shoes, Blazer

In this outfit, I kept with a very neutral theme – other than the attention-stealing color of the blouse, of course! The light tan pants and brown shoes create an earthy yet glamorously sophisticated ensemble, while the orange top keeps things fresh and fun. The texture of the white blazer adds interest, while pearl studs and a rose gold wristwatch are classically chic accessories.

Do you have a pressing fashion question? Ask away!

Is there a piece in your closet that you never know how to style? Do you have an important event coming up? Is there a certain trend that is completely lost on you?

If you have a question you want to see answered in this column, just send it on over via email to askcf @ and one day you might see your question answered right here on the site!

Please note: We get A LOT of email and unfortunately we will not be able to respond to every single question. However, we will read through each question and then decide which ones will be most helpful to the most readers. Thank you for your understanding.

What do you think?

Do you think these outfits could withstand random weather fluctuations? Which of these outfits would you wear? Which outfit is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted on on March 23, 2014 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , ,

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15 Responses to “Ask CF: What Do I Wear to an Afternoon Tea?”

  1. 1
    March 23rd, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    It seems like this event is for the bride..even though it isn’t the actual wedding, I would not wear anything white out of respect for the bride. It’s her special day, not yours.

  2. 2
    March 23rd, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    I agree with Emily, a lot of brides wear variations of white to their events, not just THE day. Black dresses when worn with bright colors would be appropriate for a high tea.

  3. 3
    March 23rd, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I disagree with the above comments. That kind of sentiment seems so bridezilla. I wish people would put as much effort into their actual marriage as they do every detail of their wedding and pre wedding events.

    These outfits are lovely, a black dress with bright colour seems so loud and out of place for high tea

  4. 4
    March 23rd, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Pastels are the way to go. I agree, not white. It is an April tea, you should go for something sweet but not white – that’s a bride’s domain whether she takes it or not.

  5. 5
    March 23rd, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Love the ensembles that you put together in your response. Great looking outfits!!

  6. 6
    March 23rd, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    I personally think that white is okay as long as it’s not the focal point of the outfit but I do think the 1st and 3rd outfit would probably be a bit too much white for a bridal event, maybe swap out the dress for a peachy pink or apricot one and the blazer with a nude one? They’re all really cute outfits though.

  7. 7
    March 24th, 2014 at 1:25 am

    “Don’t wear white to a wedding” seems very old-fashioned to me. It’s 2014, if a bride REALLY gets bent out of shape over someone wearing white (or even an off-white) to her wedding then it’s not a wedding worth going to, IMO.

    Loving the first outfit a bunch. Very classy!

  8. 8
    March 24th, 2014 at 4:49 am

    I like the second styling best!

  9. 9
    March 24th, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I like all these outfits but my favorites are #1 and #3. #2 seems a bit old to me. I can’t picture a 20-something wearing something like that.

    I second Lacy “It’s 2014, if a bride REALLY gets bent out of shape over someone wearing white (or even an off-white) to her wedding then it’s not a wedding worth going to”

  10. 10
    March 24th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    seriously? I didn’t even notice that these outfits were “white” until the comments pointed them out. All I noticed is that they all looked appropriate for the occasion, except that the second one looks suited for someone older than the typical college student. I also second Lacy “It’s 2014, if a bride REALLY gets bent out of shape over someone wearing white (or even an off-white) to her wedding then it’s not a wedding worth going to,” especially considering not all cultures have the bride wearing white. some consider green or red to be lucky and thus the appropriate bridal color. and some just wear pretty, bright colors in general.

  11. 11
    March 24th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Keep in mind that the US tradition of not wearing white to wedding events does not necessarily apply elsewhere in the world. Take a look at the bridal parties in many UK weddings. Best check with locals first, and enjoy the festivities!

  12. 12
    March 24th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    “some consider green or red to be lucky and thus the appropriate bridal color. and some just wear pretty, bright colors in general.”

    Even in other cultures where the traditional bridal color is not white, in my experience, the brides wore a western white bridal gown during the ceremony & changed into something more traditional during the reception.

    In any case, the main thing is to be respectful of the bride & groom, their family & their culture, whatever that may be. You are the guest, after all & it’s not about you, at least not at this point.

    Personally, I think wearing white to a wedding is fine, as long as it isn’t the dominant and/or sole color of your outfit.

  13. 13
    March 25th, 2014 at 8:08 am

    My girls and I are known in our local US city as the tea crawlers–we love visiting tea rooms of all sorts! When we dress up for an event, we often wear very chic and/or classical styles (number one is perfect!), but always with one thing that is a little out of the norm. Maybe its a old west hat, a big fringed boho bag, or even ornamental brass knuckles. Adding just a touch of bad not only is a conversation piece but it stands out to the tea owners and they will remember their quirky customer next time you roll on in!
    As far as white goes with the bride to be, why don’t you just ask the bride? That way there’s no question about it :-)

  14. 14
    March 25th, 2014 at 10:24 am

    These comments are crazy! I’m sure if any bride would have a problem with friends wearing white she’d let them no prior to.

    Anyway, love the concept and all of the outfits, especially the first look. The blazer in the last look is to die for.

  15. 15
    April 10th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Does anyone know where I could possible find a cheaper version of the cream ankle pants? I really love the second outfit. Classy!

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