What to wear to a christening (And what NOT to wear…)

What to wear to a Christening or baptism is one of the most frequently asked question here at The Fashion Police, so let’s jump right in and talk christening attire…

What to Wear to a Christening

What to Wear to a Christening

What to Wear to a christening: the basics

Like weddings, christenings are formal events, which means that a certain formality of dress is expected of those in attendance. Unlike weddings, however, the good news is that  there aren’t many strange superstitions or colour-based clothing rules attached to them, so you’re much less likely to offend someone by turning up in the wrong thing. They’re also slightly less “dressy” than weddings, so unless you’re a Godparent, or, well, the baby, you’re probably not going to have to rush out and buy a whole new outfit which you’ll never wear again, and should be able to pull something together from your existing wardrobe: phew!

(We’re going to assume for the purposes of this article that you’re NOT involved in the ceremony itself, and are simply a guest. If you’re the baby, meanwhile, you don’t need to read this at all: you’ll look cute whatever you wear…)

So what DO you wear to a christening?

Most christenings take place in a church, or other religious building, and the advice most often given about their dress codes is that you should wear more or less what you’d wear to church.

“That’s all well and good, Fashion Police,” we hear you say, “But what about those of us who don’t attend church on a regular basis? We still have no idea what to wear to a christening!”

OK, here’s another little rule of thumb for you: think less formal than a wedding, but more formal than a casual barbecue, say. The kind of thing you’d wear for a smart lunch, say, should be perfectly fine.

Still confused? Your exact outfit will depend on many things (the weather and season being two that instantly spring to mind), but here are some suggestions…

What to Wear to a Christening

[All outfits: Coast]

What to wear to a christening: some suggestions…

  • A dress (make sure it’s not too short or otherwise revealing)
  • Tailored trousers with a blouse or other smart-ish top
  • A skirt and jacket/blouse (again, think “smart” rather than “sexy” when it comes to skirt length and shape)
  • A trouser or skirt suit
  • A pretty cardigan, shrug or other wrap: churches can be cold, whatever the time of year
  • Almost any colour or pattern: it’s a happy occasion, so bright colours are good, but not essential.
  • A statement necklace or other accessory to add a touch of interest to plainer outfits
What to Wear to a Christening
[All outfits: Reiss]

And, more importantly….

What NOT to wear to a christening?

what to wear to a christening

  • Jeans
  • Sweatpants
  • Flip-flops
  • Ugg boots
  • Sneakers
  • Uggs
  • Anything that looks like it belongs in a nightclub – leave the micro-minis, stripper shoes and sheer tops at home
  • A floor length gown or anything too “eveningy”: most christenings take place during the day – you don’t need to break out the ballgown for them.
  • Anything that will make YOU, more than the baby and its parents/Godparents the centre of attention: as with weddings, it’s not your day, so it’s not the time for dramatic fashion statements or outlandish attire.

Can you wear black to a christening? 

Yes, you can: while christenings are joyful occasions, and you’re there to celebrate, black is so ubiquitous these days that it can be appropriate for just about anything. The key to wearing it is to make sure that you don’t look like you’re in mourning, so nothing too severe or funereal: think about adding some bright accents or accessories to your outfit rather than going with unrelieved head-to-toe black.

What to wear to a christening

Can you wear jeans to a christening? 

We get asked this all the time. Seriously, aaaalll the time. And the answer? NO. Please don’t wear jeans to a christening – or to any other formal event. Jeans are casual wear: they’re not appropriate for a christening any more than they are for a wedding, and it won’t kill you to wear something else for just a few short hours, to show your hosts that you’ve made at least a little bit of effort.

Do you have to wear a hat to a christening? 

Nope: you can if you want to, of course, but most christenings are less formal than that, so you won’t look out of place by turning up bare-headed.

A final disclaimer:

As with all events of this kind, all christenings are different. We’ve based the advice above on the “average” kind of ceremony, but you will, of course, come across christenings with different levels of formality, from the very dressy, wedding-like ones to the completely casual. As always, if you’re at all in doubt, check with your hosts to find out whether there’s a dress code, and what they feel would be appropriate. And have fun!


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