Afternoon tea has its origins in the mid 19th century when etiquette and dress codes were always strictly observed. Although the 'rules' have become more relaxed these days, expectations remain high in the finer establishments, such as the Ritz and Claridges, where ladies dress demurely and gentlemen wear a jacket and tie.
The tea dress has never gone out of fashion and is one of our favourite and feminine pieces of frockery, which has the added benefit of being flattering to most body shapes. Whether you favour delicate florals or bolder prints, silks or cottons, it is the perfect frock for sipping your Earl Grey and nibbling on your cucumber sandwiches.
To achieve a retro look, wear a pretty hat, carry a small handbag and accessorise with gloves and a pretty brooch or corsage pinned on the bodice or at the waist. For some old fashioned feminine frockery and classic accessories, check out our Get the Look: Tea at the Ritz section. We can also highly recommend the work of vintage inspired milliner Lisa from Off With Her Head, who creates the most beautiful hats and fascinators.
Afternoon tea also demands fine table linen, silverware and china, and we especially like the vintage sandwich plates and tiered cake stands which are enjoying a long ovedue revival. Keep an eye on our Homeware department for charming examples of old fashioned cake plates, china and linen to help you host your traditional vintage tea party. And for vintage themed cupcakes and other delectables, take a look at what our friends at The Scarlet Bakery have to offer.