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 outfit choice. Rarely as formal or as tricky as deciding what to wear to a wedding, there might not be any hard and fast rules, but there are some soft guidelines we suggest you stick to to make sure you look appropriate for the occasion. 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 shirt dress, or smart trousers and a blouse. For grander christenings, however, you will naturally require an outfit upgrade. Most importantly though, select an outfit you're comfortable in—whether that's opting for sharp tailoring and your best 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.
The Duchess of Cambridge 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 mums 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.
"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 queen of occasionwear herself, The Duchess of Cambridge" - fashion editor and stylist, Antonia Kraskowski (opens in new tab)
1. Midi Dress
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 that dopamine dressing trend and go for a printed midi dress in mood-boosting hues. This look offers 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.
Mango Flower Print Dress
RRP: $79.99 / £49.99 | Sizes: US: 0-20 / UK: 4-26 | Pastel blue hues are an ideal way to step into spring and the soft palette and pretty floral print make it ideal for a christening. Available up to a size 26.
Boden Puff Sleeve Tiered Midi Dress
RRP: $180 / £120 | Sizes: US: / UK: 6-22 | This puff-sleeved dress is bang on-trend and the pretty print makes it an instant mood booster. With pumps or sandals, this dress can easily be dressed up or down.
2. A smart suit
Two-piece suits can work fabulously for a sleek and contemporary look that’s comfortable for all-day wear. Look for colorful blazer and trouser combos or lift more classic, muted hues by layering a vibrant blouse underneath. Wide-leg trousers or culottes not only look elegant and feminine but deliver on comfort too and are one of many big fashion trends 2022 has on offer. You’ll be able to get plenty of wear from your two-piece beyond the christening, styling them out as separates, making it a worthy investment,
Me+Em Orange Trouser and Blazer
RRP: $780 / £440 (jacket & trousers) | Sizes: US: 0-12 / UK: 4-16 | This glorious co-ord in a color pop hue is ideal for a summer of special occasions. Available as separate items you can easily dress down the blazer with jeans, or the trousers with any of your best white t-shirts.
Ann Taylor The Cutaway Blazer
RRP: $189 / £190.33 | Sizes: 00-18 | Available as a cutaway blazer, with matching trousers, skirt or shift dress options, the Ann Taylor collection does great building block outfits when it comes to tailoring. Mix and match to make the look that's just right for you. We love this color too.
3. A chic jumpsuit
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. 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.
Coast Ruffle Sleeve Wide Leg Scuba Jumpsuit
RRP: £99 | Sizes: 8-18 | Florals for spring, we know, groundbreaking, one of the most memorable fashion quotes, this scuba fabric jumpsuit really is the spring/summer buy you can enjoy on repeat. The fabric shapes and sculpts curves for a flattering finish.
Karen Millen Curve Floral Hammered Woven Satin Jumpsuit
RRP: $232 / £135 | Sizes: US: 14-20 / UK: 18-24 | This curve-loving jumpsuit is great if you're plus-size and looking for something to wear to a christening. The flared leg makes this super modern and you can easily add a cropped cardigan for extra coverage.
River Island Black and White Polka Dot Jumpsuit
RRP: $102 / £55 | Sizes: US: 2-14 / UK: 6-18 | Polka dots are one of fashion's favorite prints. Utterly seasonless and ever-enduring, you can rest assured that polka dots will always be 'in'. Double up and use this chic piece as the answer to what to wear to the races too.
4. A dress coat
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 guest look, 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.
Hobbs Jennifer Floral Jacquard Coat
LK Bennett Mint Green Trench Coat
RRP: $720 / £399 | Sizes: US: 1-6 / UK: 4-20 | If you've had your eye on a Burberry trench coat, but haven't quite yet committed, this gorgeous spring green coat from LK Bennett will easily dress up any classic shift dress, making it ready for a special occasion in an instant.
Tommy Hilfiger Curve Houndstooth Coat
RRP: $502 / £320 | Sizes: UK: 18-26 | Another classic buy for plus-size women, this striking coat can see you through more than just christenings. With a tailored style, it will be the item to reach for next time you're searching for what to wear to an interview too.
5. Comfortable yet fancy shoes
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.
Dune London Click Tan Shoe
RRP: $125 / £90 | Sizes: US: 5-10 / UK: 3-8 | These moc-croc tan shoes are a pair you can turn to time and time again. With the look of some of the best designer heels, the classic styling means they'll pair with pretty much any smart-casual and occasion wear look.
LK Bennett Eevi Suede Espadrilles
RRP: $360 / £199 | Sizes: US: 4-11 / UK: 2-9 | Kate Middleton can often be spotted in her collection of trusty LK Bennett heels and wedges and this classic Eevi style will always come in handy as part of your capsule wardrobe. Wear with occasionwear all summer long.
Jigsaw Maybell Block Heel Sandal
RRP: £110 (international shipping available) | Sizes: 36-41 | As we enter the warmer months, a pair of white, sandals will help dress up your favorite midi dresses. The low heel adds comfort and stability and the wide strap and toe post will ensure you feel secure.
6. Hats and Headpieces
Christenings that are erring on the more formal side will generally require a hat or headpiece. Look as 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, 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.
Phase Eight Green Fascinator
RRP: $55 / £39 | This bold green will team well with any of the best pink dresses, or add a zesty freshness to neutral hues. Mounted on a hairband, this is easy to put on for the more formal part of the day and remove later if need be.
Eliane Sarah Milinery Headband
RRP: $28.07 / £22.50 | Add a touch of sparkle with this bronze metallic headband. The knotted style adds height, lengthening your silhouette and elongating your face. The added height adds a welcomed dose of drama too to any look.
Anthropologie Floral Headband
RRP: $20 / £28 | If you're heading to the races this summer, check your enclosures dress code as with a broader baseband, this floral beauty might pass for race day, allowing you two wears in one. We love the bright colors too.
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 2022. Opt for smaller, delicate clutch bags with wristlets or one of the best crossbody bags - as 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.
Ted Baker White Floral Applique Bag
RRP: $250 / £150 | Is there a better way to welcome in the warmer months than with flowers? This detailed applique makes this bag standout from the crowd. The color is timeless too.
Monsoon Embroidered Envelope Clutch
RRP: $50 / £39 | Artisanal finishes were all over the runways and this sweet embroidered envelop clutch promises to dress up any outfit. Pair with jeans and a blazer after the main event.
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?
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?
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?
While jeans might seem a bit informal, a tasteful darker denim could be passable. It really depends on the style of the event and the people hosting. You could team a pair of jeans with a smart and well tailored jacket for a sharper finish. We think it's safe to assume you can leave anything with rips in the knees or anything "acid-washed" in the closet for this one.
As far as fit, we’d say a white jeans outfit, such as a skinny or tapered pair teamed with a tunic or blouse sit on the right side of appropriate, whereas baggier denim will be a no-no. Although unless you have to wear jeans, leave your denim at home on this occasion.
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.
What to wear to a christening as the mother
If you're attending a christening or baptism as a mother, then it's nice to be a little more dressed up than your guests. Of course, there's no requirement to, but this is your day as much as it is your child's.
Opt for a floral midi or maxi dress for a more casual party, or dress up with a more structured dress for something more formal. You could even opt for a two-piece or a jumpsuit. Light colors, dainty prints, and any embellishment is a bonus.
What to wear to a christening as the godmother
If you’re lucky enough to have been asked to act as Godmother for the child that’s being baptized, 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 will ensure you don’t arrive under or over-dressed.
An all-in-one dress or jumpsuit is always a good option, offering a ready-made outfit without worrying about mixing and matching separates. How you accessorize 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.
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 a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. 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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