By Jess Beech
Christening invite but no outfit? Don't worry - from the best shapewear to failsafe outfit recommendations, we've got you covered.
In some ways, deciding what to wear to a christening or baptism is far easier than working out what to wear to a wedding.
For one, there are no strict rules surrounding which colours you can and can’t wear - nor do you have to worry upstaging anyone. (That is, of course, unless you’re planning on wearing a full-length white baptism gown.)
But, with fewer rules in place, it’s hard to know where to begin.
If there’s no dress code specified on the invite, it’s best to take your cues from where the ceremony will be taking place, or which part of it you’re attending.
Smart casual is perfect for more low-key occasions, but for fancier events, take notes from Duchess of Cambridge's outfits for her own children's christenings, and that of her nephew Archie. Our archive of Kate Middleton's dresses is a good place to start for fashionable yet sensible pieces.
You’ll need to put slightly more consideration into your outfit if you're attending the church, making sure your shoulders are covered and you’re not showing too much skin.
Can you wear a short dress to a christening?
Super short dresses and churches don’t tend to mix. To ensure your outfit remains respectful whether you’re sitting or standing, opt for a knee-grazing length or longer. If you really do want to go short, team with a pair of opaque tights to reduce the risk of a mishap.
There are plenty of affordable midi-length skirts and dresses out there, so you won’t struggle to find something that hits the mark.
Is it OK to wear jeans to a christening?
Whether or not it’s ok to wear jeans to a christening is up for debate, and will depend on both the style of jeans you’re planning to wear and the dress code of the celebration.
As a general rule, we’d say white skinny jeans teamed with a tunic or blouse sit on the right side of appropriate, whereas acid-wash or ripped denim will be a no-no.
What to wear to a christening in winter
Special occasions often call for more form-fitting clothing, so establish good foundations by first considering shapewear. A structured bodysuit or pair of thigh-whittling shorts will hone your shape, creating a smooth canvas for your clothing. Not to mention the addition of an extra layer will help keep you warm too. Tailoring can apply to jackets, skirts, trousers and dresses - anything that has been carefully crafted to flatter your figure in all the right places. Choose substantial fabrics over flimsy ones, as these are likely to cling.
Take your lead from British royal Kate Middleton and choose a dainty court shoe over chunky boots or strappy sandals. The pointed toe will make your legs look longer, while the narrow heel adds height and elegance. One of the most versatile styles of shoes, they’ll more than earn their keep in your wardrobe - working for interviews, work and weddings too.
A chic coat
It’s likely your trusty parka or well-worn puffa won’t quite hit the mark when dressing for a christening, so look to smarter, more classic styles instead. A wrap coat is a good choice, adding structure and definition to your shape. Straight-cuts work just as well, creating a streamlined silhouette. Black, grey and navy can feel too sombre for such a happy occasion, but if you don’t have the money to spend on investing in a camel or pastel-toned coat, the addition of a vibrant scarf will make all the difference.
What to wear to a christening in spring or summer
A shift towards more natural fabrics has fuelled the linen comeback in recent years. A great choice for christenings, it will help you carefully toe the line between formal and casual. Think a tailored linen blazer thrown over a silky midi dress, or a lightweight linen suit in a rich rust or pastel tone. Worried about creases? Look out for linen mix fabrics, that won’t crumple as soon as you leave the house.
Christenings are joyful occasions, so don’t be afraid to dress to match the mood. The bigger and brighter the print you opt for the better. And of course, busy prints cover a multitude of sins. Normally favour a more muted palette? Ease yourself in by teaming a vibrant blouse with a neutral pair of trousers, or visa versa.
Sitting in church during warmer weather can become uncomfortable quite quickly. Steer clear of that hot, sticky feeling by favouring loose fit, draping fabrics. That could mean a floaty maxi dress, or a pair of wide-leg trousers, teamed with a soft camisole or billowing blouse. Pleated skirts work well too.
Christenings tend to involve running around with little ones, so if you are worried about a wardrobe malfunction, a jumpsuit is the perfect solution. Go sleeveless on really hot days, or, if you’re not keen on showing off your arms, a caped or angel sleeve is very flattering. Cropped styles are great for petites, while a wide-leg style will suit all silhouettes - flaring out from the waist to create the illusion of a longer, leaner frame.
What to wear to a christening if you’re the Godmother
If you’re lucky enough to have been asked to act as Godmother for the child that’s being baptised, you’re likely to want to put more consideration into your outfit than if you were just attending as a guest.
Firstly, speak to the little one's parents, and see what they are planning on wearing. This will not only help you to get a feel for what sort of clothing might be appropriate, but ensure you don’t arrive under or over dressed.
An all-in-one like a dress or jumpsuit is always a good option, offering a ready-made outfit without worrying about mixing and matching separates. How you accessorise from there is up to you. If it’s a fancier occasion, consider adding a hat, smart jacket, heels or a beaded clutch. If it’s more laid back, flat pumps and a leather tote (with enough room for a packet of tissues!) will be all you need.
Go-to brands when shopping for a christening outfit
If you don’t want to spend too much, Zara creates designer lookalikes for a fraction of the RRP. Don’t just rummage through the racks for dresses and jackets, their accessories are well worth a look too.
For something a bit different, you can’t beat Anthropologie. Expect plenty of colours, prints and embellishment. Home to carefully curated pieces from other designers, alongside their own brand offering and collaborations, there’s less likelihood of wearing the same outfit as someone else too.
Elegant and timeless, Ann Taylor is our go-to for smart workwear. Outside of the 9-5, their everyday collection would perfectly suit an occasion like a baptism or christening, with a range of feminine styles and classic shapes.
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC.
She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!
Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress.
The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
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