How to Dress for a Tea Party

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Cocktail dresses are tea party perfect for women.
Image Credit: Bernine/Moment/GettyImages

Tea parties aren't just for young girls and their dollies and teddy bears. Although youngsters still enjoy clinking their tea cups and nibbling on finger sandwiches, adults are also partaking in these festive events. Whether you're dressing your child for a birthday party or attending an adults-only gathering with family and friends, tea party attire comes with a few easy-to-follow guidelines, governed by proper etiquette.

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The Semi-Formal Tea Party Style

For attendees of all ages, tea party style is semi-formal. Generally, clothing is comparable to what you would wear to church or an afternoon wedding. Bright patterns and colors are appropriate for a tea party, and kids, women and men can all find tea party outfits that are suitable for this festive occasion.

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Proper Tea Party Outfits for Youngsters

Kids have two options when dressing for a tea party. First, they can wear semi-floral attire, such as cotton or tulle floral sundresses for girls and khakis, button-down shirts and bowties or ties for boys.

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Alternatively, children might want to wear dress-up clothes, from satin and lace princess dresses to kid-sized blazers and slacks, depending upon the child's personal preferences. Let the tea party invitation determine whether your kids will wear semi-formal or dress-up attire to the party.

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Feminine Tea Party Looks for the Ladies

Women attending a tea party should choose semi-formal dresses and skirt-and-blouse combinations. A short cocktail dress, such as an A-line frock or a classic shift dress, are appropriate.

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Avoid black and other dark hues. Instead, choose soft pastels or bright floral patterns -- the more color, the better. A pencil skirt with a colorful silk or chiffon blouse is an alternative to the classic daytime dress. A pair of nude pumps or dressy sandals completes the tea party look.

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Must-Have Tea Party Accessories

For classic tea party ensembles, women need accessories to complete their look. For added elegance, nab some white gloves; choose between those that end at either the wrist or just below the elbow.

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Wide-brimmed, woven hats are a popular accessory as well -- select hats with flowers, tulle, ribbon, feathers and other adornments. A fascinator, a headpiece that features similar adornments, is another option for a tea party.

Proper Tea Party Attire for Men

Semi-formal tea party attire for males calls for a dark suit in hues of navy, gray or brown, which is a safe choice for a tea party. A crisp, sharply pressed white shirt complements the dark suit and brightens the look for an afternoon tea. A colorful tie adds a touch of festivity for the occasion -- a pastel gingham tie or bright striped tie completes the suit look. However, if you prefer more muted colors, choose shades that match and complement your suit.

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Classic brown or black leather shoes and belt finish a gentleman's tea-party outfit. It's important to match up and color coordinate shoes with your outfit. Select black belts and shoes or boots for gray, black or blue suits. Save the brown belts and footwear for suits in shades of tan, brown or camel.

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