Wear a dramatic, high crown, wide-brimmed hat for a formal garden party.

Proper Attire for a Tea Ceremony

by Mercedes Valladares

Garden tea parties, brunch time teas and cultural tea ceremonies are just a few events where proper clothing is required. The locale and type of ceremony dictate the protocol, as well as the appropriate outfit. Enjoy dressing in dainty ensembles, while showing respect for your host by donning the proper attire for tea time.

1. Garden Tea Party

When attending an outdoor tea ceremony, select an outfit with garden-esque colors in mind. Dresses in shades of soft green, yellow, lavender or pink are perfect for complementing the blooming landscape of both formal and informal outdoor settings. If the event requires formal attire, choose an embroidered or printed, floral shift dress or a light colored, form-fitting sheath dress. Accessorize the look with a fabric covered handbag and floral patterned, high-heeled shoes. Since hats are a must, choose a small to medium crown and brim for informal settings and a high crown, wide-brimmed style for formal ceremonies.

2. Brunch Tea

Leave your jeans and T-shirts at home when dressing for a weekend brunch tea ceremony. Even if the brunch tea is an informal setting at a friend's home or restaurant, avoid low-cut dresses and blouses, as well as high-end cocktail dresses. Wear an A-line dress with lace detailing or an empire waist frock with a contrasting satin ribbon and bow. Neutral colors in cream, as well as medium toned colors such as coral or green, are generally acceptable with matching accessories. Even though you are indoors, wear a low crown hat with a small brim paired with lace gloves and a small clutch bag.

3. English High Tea

Even if you are not a member of the royal family, you can certainly feel like you are part of the lineage by attending a traditional English-inspired tea. Enjoy wearing frilly chiffon or organza dresses with full skirts and peek-a-boo tulle hems along with a waistband satin sash and large bow. Now is also your chance to sport an eyelet-bordered parasol, a lightweight umbrella for sun protection. Add pearls, white gloves and a wide-brimmed hat to complete your look. You can sport darker colors for a more fashionable high tea ensemble.

4. Japanese Tea Ceremony

Consider yourself a valued friend if you receive an invitation to a formal Japanese tea ceremony, referred to as Chaji. Historically, guests wore kimonos; today western clothing is acceptable. Wear a long dress with side slits in pastel or muted colors, and pair it with sling-back, high-heeled shoes. As a guest avoid wearing dresses that have distracting patterns, as it may detract from the host or the ceremony itself. Since you will most likely be sitting on the floor and removing your shoes, opt for a long sleeve blouse with an understated neckline and full skirt with kitten-heeled mules.

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