What to wear to a christening: Appropriate outfits that hit the right mark

If you're not sure what to wear to a christening, these stylish outfit ideas will help

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Deciding what to wear to a christening isn't always easy. Unlike weddings, there often is no clear dress code or theme, but there are some guidelines you can follow to ensure you're dressed appropriately.

An important landmark occasion, a christening is often seen as a grey area when it comes to what to wear. If no dress code has been specified on the invitation then you'll want to take your cues from the venue and setting of the ceremony. For low-key events, a smart-casual vibe will suffice, think your best dresses, or smart pants and a blouse. Grander christenings, however, will  require an outfit upgrade. 

The Princess of Wales consistently nails what to wear to a christening, dazzling in designer outfits for her own children's big days, so if you're really stuck for some style inspiration, our archive of Kate Middleton's dresses is a good place to start for fashionable yet sensible pieces. And remember, if you're attending a church, make sure your shoulders are covered and you’re not showing too much skin. And of course, christening outfits for moms or godparents will need a little more thought behind them too.

What to wear to a christening: 7 key pieces

When it comes to what to wear to a christening there is no need to get yourself into a style panic. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and go for smarter, more polished pieces over keeping it laidback and casual. Most importantly, select an outfit you're comfortable in - whether that's opting for sharp tailoring and a blazer or you need a little boost with the perfect dress to hide a tummy and some of your best shapewear, confidence is the key ingredient to pulling off most looks. 

"Like weddings, christenings are a formal occasion and so when you're selecting what to wear, it's best to avoid casual items such as jeans and trainers and opt for smart occasion wear. A pretty floral midi dress or tailoring such as a pastel-colored suit teamed with a low block heel are both fail safe stylish options. While hats and fascinators are still popular, many are choosing to go with a more modern take on headpieces, such as an oversized Alice band, similar to those worn by the Princess of Wales," says fashion editor and stylist Antonia Kraskowski.

1. Midi Dress

four women in midi dresses

A printed midi dress gives maximum impact with minimal effort.

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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. This season has a particular fondness for bright color clothing, so embrace the fashion color trends 2023 and dopamine dressing by opting for a printed midi dress in mood-boosting hues. The best midi dresses offer maximum impact with minimal effort. While summer is largely about rainbow brights, dramatic monochrome prints will look chic and stand the test of time.

For a summer christening add your best sandals and you're good to go. When it comes to silhouette choice, opt for more flowy styles over more bodycon designs - a tea dress or shirt dress are good choices. 

2. A smart suit

four women wearing bright trouser suits

You’ll be able to get plenty of wear from your two-piece beyond the christening.

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Two-piece suits can work fabulously for a sleek and contemporary look that’s comfortable for all-day wear. Look for colorful blazer and pants combos or lift more classic, muted hues by layering a vibrant blouse underneath. Wide-leg pants or culottes not only look elegant and feminine but deliver on comfort too and are one of many big spring/summer fashion trends 2023 has on offer. You’ll be able to get plenty of wear from your two-piece beyond the christening, styling them out as separates, nailing how to style a blazer and discovering what to wear with wide leg pants in the process.

3. A chic jumpsuit

four street style shots of women in jumpsuits

You can never go wrong with a flattering jumpsuit.

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Christenings tend to involve running around with little ones, so if you are worried about a wardrobe malfunction, a flattering jumpsuit is a perfect solution when it comes to what to wear to a christening. 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 jumpsuits are a great alternative to the best petite dresses if you're shorter in stature, while a wide-leg style will suit hourglass body shapes - flaring out from the waist to create the illusion of a longer, leaner frame.

4. A dress coat

four women in dress coats

Draw inspiration from the royals and seek out stylish dress coats.

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We're not talking about your best winter coat or even a chic camel coat. When it comes to dress-coats for a christening, or a wedding ensemble, this style very much draws inspiration from the royal family and royal occasions. To nail this look you're either looking for a dress and coat co-ord, where a shift, knee-length dress has a coordinating coat in the same length, or you can pair a frock style, tailored coat, over a neat shift dress in a well-matched hue to replicate the idea. If your capsule wardrobe already contains a dress you'd like to wear, give it a seasonal refresh with a wrap coat, or a lightweight trench coat. 

5. Comfortable yet fancy shoes

street style shots of smart shoes

Consider a wedge or block heel for a smart yet comfortable look.

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Much like weddings, christenings can be long days and involve a lot of standing up so make sure you choose smart, comfortable shoes. Consider a wedge or block heel, or take your lead from Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton's shoe choices and choose a dainty court shoe. 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. And if you can't abide heels, we've also got a great guide for comfortable flats for women, that has a section on dressy flats too. 

6. Hats and Headpieces

street style shots of women in hats

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Christenings that err on the more formal side will generally require a hat or headpiece. Look at this as an opportunity to really dress up and embrace some of the latest accessory trends to inform your choices. When it comes how to wear headbands or how to wear a hat, the more formal the occasion, the more luxe fabrications you're looking for. For a headband for a christening, look for sculptural styles, tulle and embellishment detailing to ensure you stand out (in a good way). Don't opt for anything too large though, so you can comfortably wear it all day. 

7. Bags

When it comes to bags to wear to a christening, remember that, like with a wedding, you'll want to travel as light as possible. As a dressier occasion, you'll want to leave your best tote bag at home, even if it does give a nod to the handbag trends 2023. Opt for smaller, delicate clutch bags with wristlets or one of the best crossbody bags. This will allow you to go hands-free and enjoy a day spent with friends and family in comfort and style. Select bags that just fit your essentials, otherwise you'll be tempted to fill it with items you simply don't need to be carrying.  

Christening dress code - some handy guidelines

Worried about the kind of outfit you've picked out or need some extra guidance? We've put together answers to some of the most common questions about christening outfits.

Can you wear white to a christening?

women in smart white outfits

It's a classic color, but is it appropriate for a christening?

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The rules are different to that of weddings and it is absolutely fine to wear white to a christening or baptism. Traditionally, the person being christened or baptized will wear white (or a similar color), but that doesn't mean guests can't wear it too. And if you're a mother or godmother at the christening, then it's even more common to wear a white outfit.

Can you wear black to a christening?

two women in black smart outfits

Many wonder if black is too sombre for the occassion.

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Again, there aren't such strict rules around wearing black to a christening as there are when it comes to weddings. You can definitely opt for black if that's the outfit you're most comfortable in, although you should still consider the settings and theme for the day in the aesthetics of your look.

Is it OK to wear jeans to a christening?