What Should I Wear to Afternoon Tea?

British Man

Visiting London comes with a long list of things to do, from watching musicals on the West End to tucking into the classiest of afternoon teas at hotels throughout the city. Of course, The Devonshire London is no exception! Afternoon tea here at the hotel promises French macaroons, crisp bubbly, and even themed versions like Chocolate Afternoon Tea and Indian Afternoon Tea.


Though most of us have a basic idea of what afternoon tea is all about, not everyone knows exactly what to wear for such an occasion. Though everywhere has different standards and some places are more relaxed than others, if you are going for traditional afternoon tea (as opposed to an Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter themed one, by contrast), then the following dress is pretty standard across the board.

The code 

The dress code is usually smart-casual for afternoon tea, which doesn’t mean you have to dash from your Paddington accommodation to Oxford Street and buy yourself a suit and tie, or ball gown. Instead, this is more of an indication of what you should avoid. Ultimately, steer clear of anything you might find someone wearing on the beach, and think along the lines of what you might wear for a dinner at a good restaurant. People will interpret smart-casual whichever way you want, but here are some pointers on how to achieve that. Men – a collared shirt never disappoints. Women – something floral always goes down well.


For men, closed shoes are a necessity. For women, this is a little more relaxed because everyone knows a glittering pair of heeled sandals or open-toe pair of heels can look just as glamorous as a closed-toe. Save your trainers for when you are walking the streets of London looking at all its iconic attractions, but keep them away from afternoon tea dining rooms. Shopping for a new pair of shoes in London is something people travel specifically to do, so if you don’t have anything appropriate, you are in the right place. Both men and women can head to the following department stores for the best variety.


Selfridges on Oxford Street is a beacon of designer fashion in not only London but Europe and the rest of the world. Here, you will find brands such as Jimmo Choo, Christian Louboutin and Gucci. Harrods in Knightsbridge is another fantastic option, offering brands like Balenciaga, Magnanni and Alexander McQueen. What makes Selfridges and Harrods such incredible places to shop is the sheer quantity of brands and shops inside, meaning both men, women and children can head in with totally different purchases in mind and everyone still leaves satisfied.


Do not wear caps or beanies when taking your afternoon tea – though this is a fairly common practice for any dining establishment, not just afternoon tea. However, that is not to say all headwear should be avoided. This is one for the ladies – donning an elaborate hat or fascinator is a welcome treat when lapping up the luxury of afternoon tea. But if a fancy hat wasn’t something you thought you needed to pack for your stay in Bed and Breakfast Paddington London, then here are a couple of London’s top shops to buy them.


Christy’s is one of London (and the world’s) most famous hat shops and can be found in a few locations across the city. They have been supplying classic felt hats to everyone who’s anyone since 1773. Everyone in the store is an expert in their trade, so just let them know where you are headed and what clothes you intend on wearing it and they will help you select the perfect hat.


Victoria Grant represents Haute Couture at its most indulgent, proffering iconic top hats for women. You visit Victoria Grant on an appointment-only basis, and hats are available for hire if you are in town for London Hotels Special Offers and don’t want to take a pearl top hat back home with you. Victoria Grant has dressed all the who’s who of London at some point in her long and fruitful career and you could be the next.

Bright colours 

Though a luminescent yellow blouse is certainly not what is meant by this, it is important that while aiming at keeping formal for afternoon tea, you don’t slip into “black tie” territory – this is not the time for a chic black evening dress or a black suit. Instead, it should retain a spring-time feel about it: it is a bright and cheery occasion where colour and patterns are encouraged. A floral dress or floral collared shirt are both perfect. Keep it light and bright and you will fit right in.

Dress length

This is one for the ladies. Though there is no requirement as to the length of your skirt, this is a prime occasion for that oh-so-stylish maxi dress. Here are some shops worth visiting if you’d like to acquire one before your tea-session.

Zara is a world-famous high-street retail store which has absolutely crushed the maxi dress phase currently sweeping the streets of London. They have a range of beautiful pattern dresses which you can buy either in-store or on their website. They are flowing and soft, making them an easy new item to fold up small and take home with you.

Monsoon describe themselves as “perfect for party dresses” and this is exactly what they are – a pillar for festive dresses and women’s wear that you ought to make the effort to visit during your stay in London. Their longer dresses make the idea that a skirt needs to be short to be trendy a notion of the distant past.

It is important to remember that unless you are off to tea with the queen at one of her famous garden parties, you really don’t need to stress too much about what you wear to afternoon tea – unless you intend on wearing your flip flops. You just need to look like you have made a bit of an effort. It is, ultimately, a relaxed environment where you sink your teeth into jam and cream scones whilst elegantly sipping on a piping hot cuppa. However, it is a great occasion to dress up a bit, feel the part and have a new experience, so follow these tips and you are bound to have an excellent time.

Book your afternoon tea for two at The Devonshire London now!



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