This week (9th-15th August) is Afternoon Tea Week here in the UK, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look at this popular tradition and the fashion advice you need to be aware of if you’re partaking in a scone or two.
Afternoon tea didn’t become part of the British lexicon until 1840 when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, found that she couldn’t last from lunch until society’s traditionally late dinner at 8pm without indulging in a few snacks in the afternoon.
Requesting a tray of bread, butter, tea and cakes at around 4pm staved off her munchies so well that she began inviting friends to join her and soon the ritual caught on across society. In fact, by the 1880’s, afternoon tea had become an event in its own right, with women changing into long gowns, hats and gloves specifically to enjoy afternoon tea in the drawing room.
In more recent years, formalwear is no longer required to enjoy afternoon tea (unless your invitation is to Buckingham Palace!) but as afternoon tea is often served for special occasions, it’s still not the kind of repast you should be enjoying in your jeans.
We’ve taken a look at the 7 most common occasions for afternoon tea and here are our suggestions for afternoon tea outfits that’ll have you looking and feeling fabulous.
Baby showers and afternoon teas go hand in hand; they’re the perfect way for mothers-to-be to relax and indulge in comfort surrounded by friends and family. Whether you’re the blooming centre of attention or just a guest, being comfortable is just as important as feeling fabulous.
A pretty, floaty skirt is an excellent choice, with wrap styles or those with elasticated waistbands proving very popular. Add an elevated tee to the mix for a look that’s casual but refined, and finish with a pair of glimmering white trainers for a relaxed look.
Celebrating a beloved relative with an afternoon tea party is a great way to get the whole family together. For a family occasion, a tailored suit can be an excellent way to get that smart-casual vibe if dresses or skirts aren’t your thing.
Choose a matched suit set or why not mix and match your own picks? We love slim-fit or tapered trousers teamed with delicate heels for a feminine look with a masculine edge. Coupled with a pretty blouse and a colourful jacket, you have the makings of a look that’ll have the family talking about you for all the right reasons.
Although you’ll see all the colours of the rainbow on display at a christening, we often find that white, neutral or pastel shades look chic and timeless in the inevitable family photos.
Since you shouldn’t wear white to a wedding (unless it’s your own!) a christening afternoon tea is a great opportunity to wear a lighter colour. Finish the look with classic nude heels and a cross pendant for a formal and feminine style.
Afternoon teas are becoming an ever more popular choice for hen parties as brides-to-be move away from boozy nights out and instead opt for more relaxed celebrations. In particular during the summer months, we’re seeing a lot of poolside or beachfront hen parties serving up mimosas and afternoon tea in a relaxed, outdoor venue.
It’s not always easy to feel chic and confident in swimwear, particularly when scones and cakes are on the table, but choosing a flattering body shaping swimsuit will help you feel fabulous enough to enjoy every bite. Cover up with a chic beach dress and finish with a canvas or woven straw bag for the ultimate in poolside cool.
Choosing an outfit for a wedding can be a trying experience; you don’t want anything too pale to compete with the bride, and you have to check what colour the bridesmaids are in so you don’t match.
Typically, choosing a multitone or patterned look will ensure you don’t tread on anyone’s sartorial toes. For afternoon tea wedding celebrations, a charming dress teamed with either flat sandals or delicate wedges is always a safe choice. Finish with a white or neutral blazer for a sophisticated finishing touch.
If you’ve chosen an afternoon tea to celebrate an anniversary with your partner, a classic little black dress works just as well during the day as it does for an evening celebration. The most important thing to remember for an afternoon tea is to check your hem length - miniskirts are not ‘de rigueur’. Opt for a modest hemline and neckline and choose embellishments such as lace or embroidery for a delicate, feminine touch.
Team with pretty heels for a polished look. If you want to add a bold print or bright colour, accessories such as bags or jewellery are a great way to get a pop of personality.
For a summer garden party afternoon tea, it’s all about the florals. You can’t go wrong with a classic ‘tea dress’ style, and whether you choose bright hues or pastel tones, a pretty floral print will match perfectly with a traditional summer tea party vibe.
Team your frock with cute wedges or espadrilles for a chic style that’s easy to walk in (particularly for parties on the lawn!) and finish with a classic straw boater for a vintage twist.
Gone are the days you have that catastrophe of not knowing what to wear for your next outing with these delightful outfit picks for those with great tastes. Our fashion hub is full of outfits-of-the-day for every occasion. For more outfit inspiration, why not check out our top summer fashion picks from our marketing team?