What to wear to a Christening or baby naming ceremony - according to etiquette and fashion experts

If you’re stuck on what to wear to a Christening then we’ve consulted the experts for some failsafe looks to give you all the outfit inspiration you need

a collage showing clothes and what to wear to a christening

Our social calendars are filling up fast which can bring a whole host of wardrobe dilemmas, one of them being what to wear to a Christening or baby naming ceremony.

Whilst most of us know the general style rules for various important life events such as what to wear at a wedding or what to wear to a funeral, when it comes to Christenings the perfect outfit may not be quite as obvious. However, much like weddings, Christenings and baby naming ceremonies are a formal event and can have a dress code, meaning that certain outfits are seen as more appropriate than others.

GoodTo's Fashion Director Paula Moore has this advice: “When you’re attending a Christening, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and choose a smarter outfit. A pretty printed midi dress or tailored outfit such as a suit or co-ord is an easy yet stylish option.”

What to wear to a Christening or baby naming ceremony

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about upstaging anyone although most services - particularly if they are in a church - will be more formal so it’s still important to dress the part. On this occasion, it’s time to swap your best flared jeans for a flattering frock or tailored jumpsuit.

Can you wear white to a Christening?

Unlike wearing white to a wedding, you don’t have to worry about avoiding white when wondering what to wear to a Christening. In fact wearing white is sometimes encouraged especially if you’re the parents or godparents.

“White is usually only worn by the parents if they choose to do so,” says Lucy Challenger, etiquette expert and founder of Polo & Tweed.

If you need outfit inspiration from someone who always gets it right, look at what the Duchess of Cambridge has worn at her children’s Christenings.

Model wearing white midi dress for christening

Credit: Zara

Zara Lace Midi Dress | Price: £29.99 | Sizes: S-L

If white feels too bright or bridal, look for dresses in softer natural hues such as cream or ecru. This cream midi dress looks far more expensive than the price tag, thanks to the stylish lace detailing and gentle bias cut.

VIEW NOW - £29.99 | ZARA (opens in new tab)

Can you wear black to a Christening?

Similarly to wearing black to a wedding (opens in new tab), there are no strict rules about wearing black to a Christening. However, with black often being associated with mourning and funerals, it might be wise to steer clear of the dark hue.

“Black is accepted – but it is a little sombre. After all, it is supposed to be a happy occasion!,” says Lucy.

If you do want to wear black or navy, lift the look with colour popping accessories or a punchy print to break up the block shade.

“If a little black dress really is your best fashion friend, consider the shape and fabric, too. A stiff pencil shape can feel too much like workwear, whereas floaty fabrics that have movement feel more dressy for the occasion,” explains style expert and fashion editor Joely Chilcott.

“Consider elements like sheer sleeves, pleats and belts that will elevate a black dress for a Christening. And a pop of red lippy never goes amiss!”

Black Christening dress

Credit: New Look

New Look Black Floral Button Side Midi Wrap Dress | Price: £20.99 | Sizes: 4-20

The pretty floral print on this New Look dress is perfect if you prefer a dress with a darker base. The pink pattern will make it feel more summer appropriate - try teaming it with accessories in similar shades of pink to the print for a stylish occasion look.

VIEW NOW - £20.99 | NEW LOOK (opens in new tab)

Should you wear a hat to a Christening?

Even with weddings, the shift to more casual affairs means many people are choosing not to wear hats and there are no rules on headgear when it comes to Christenings either.

“You don’t have to wear a hat, but obviously if you feel comfortable doing so, then go for it. Not many people do these days, especially as christenings are regularly held as part of a Sunday service where most attendees are dressed smartly, but not really for a big occasion,” explains Lucy.

Hairbands and hair accessories are having a bit of a moment so if you do fancy adding some bling to your barnet, then a jewelled hairband is a more subtle alternative to a hat. When considering what to wear to a Christening don’t forget about classic jewellery either. A pair of statement earrings is a great way of injecting colour and will give you and your outfit a boost.

model wearing a yellow floral headband for a christening

Credit: Oliver Bonas

Oliver Bonas Rose Floral Yellow Beaded Headband | Price: £26 | Sizes: One size

Take a tip from the Duchess of Cambridge and swap traditional hats and fascinators for an embellished headband for a modern take on typical headpieces.  This pretty headband is the perfect finishing touch to an outfit featuring a simple block colour dress.

VIEW NOW - £26 | OLIVER BONAS (opens in new tab)

Can you wear jeans to a Christening?

Christenings are considered special occasions so wearing jeans to a Christening can come across as a bit too casual. However, there are some styles you may possibly be able to get away with wearing, especially if the service is in a more low-key venue.

If you do choose to wear jeans, avoid anything ripped or distressed and look to darker washes for a smarter finish. Offset the casual style with a silky pussy-bow blouse and a pair of heels – jeans and trainers are a big no-no.

In the summer, an outfit of white jeans teamed with a smart shirt and polished blazer sits on the right side of appropriate.

Another exception to the rule would be a smart denim jacket worn over a printed midi dress or jumpsuit.

Marks & Spencer Ecru Mom Jeans

Credit: Marks and Spencer

Marks & Spencer Ecru Mom Jeans | Price: £39.50 | Sizes: 6-22

When it comes to wearing denim to a summer Christening, look for a pair in white or cream with a tailored finish. With a tapered ankle and high waist, these cream jeans will look occasion-appropriate when teamed with a pretty blouse and heels.

VIEW NOW - £39.50 | MARKS & SPENCER (opens in new tab)

Should you avoid short skirts at a Christening?

Super short dresses and churches don’t really mix, so opt for a midi or maxi length skirt or dress instead.

“If wearing a dress or a skirt, stick to a midi or maxi hemline. This style is flattering and comfortable for a daytime occasion,” says Lucy.

Longer length dresses and skirts tend to be more comfortable too, especially if you’re having to sit down a lot or run around after the little ones. Look to floaty styles such as tea dresses with flared skirts for an effortlessly chic look.

model wearing Phase Eight Raya Pleated Dip Dye Skirt

Credit: Phase Eight

Phase Eight Raya Pleated Dip Dye Skirt | Price: £89 | Sizes: 6-20

The stylish dip dye hem of this midi dress offers plenty of options when it comes to how to wear it. Try a classic white shirt tucked in or a simple shell top in navy or peach for a colourful alternative.

VIEW NOW - £89 | PHASE EIGHT (opens in new tab)

What to wear to a Christening – things to consider

Where is the Christening being held?

Checking the aesthetics of the venue is a good place to start when it comes to choosing your outfit. A village hall or pub function room is more casual, whereas churches have stricter guidelines.

“Whilst there is no set dress code for this type of event, what you do need to remember is that if the ceremony is being held in a church, then dressing appropriately for the occasion is essential,” explains Lucy.

Your outfit will need to be more reserved when attending a church service, which means longer hemlines and not showing too much skin.

“Traditionally shoulders would need to be covered during a religious service so steer away from strappy tops and low-cut tops, along with overly tight-fitting clothing and miniskirts and dresses,” adds Lucy.

It’s also worth noting that churches can be drafty so a smart extra layer such as a blazer is worth considering.

Oasis Mixed Floral Animal Ruffle V Neck Midi Dress

Credit: Oasis

Oasis Mixed Floral Animal Ruffle V Neck Midi Dress | Price: £41 | Sizes: 6-18

The print clash of florals and leopard print on this frock offer the best of two stylish worlds. Keep your accessories simple and let the dress do the talking.

VIEW NOW - £41 | OASIS (opens in new tab)

Stradivarius Rustic Open Blazer

Credit: Stradivarius

Stradivarius Rustic Open Blazer | Price: £39.99 | Sizes: XS – XL

A pastel-hued blazer is a summer wardrobe staple that you’ll wear time and again after the Christening. This open design with turned-up cuffs is a seasonal update on a timeless tailored piece that will work well as an extra layer over a dress or pretty blouse during the service and keep any drafts at bay.

VIEW NOW - £39.99 | STRADIVARIUS (opens in new tab)

Think about injecting some colour

Although it may feel smart to stick to a muted colour palette, Christenings are great opportunities to add some colour to your look. Cheery hues such as yellow will work like a dream and sweet, romantic prints such as florals are also a stylish option.

“Bright colours and pastel shades are the safest,” says Lucy.

As previously mentioned, you don’t have to worry about stealing the focus when thinking about what to wear to a Christening, so embracing vibrant colour and playful prints are actively encouraged. A joyous occasion such as this deserves happy hues.

“Mood-boosting hues will reflect the emotions of the day, so don’t be afraid to go bold,” says Joely.

“Remember ditsy prints are slimming so can help you feel more confident. Graphic prints pack a punch and are a real showstopper. Consider timeless patterns like florals, stripes or polka dots so that you can make the most of your wardrobe and re-wear your outfit for weddings or garden parties in the future.”

Topshop Jacquard Stripe Midi Dress

Credit: Topshop

Topshop Jacquard Stripe Midi Dress | Price: £37.50 | Sizes: 4-18

Make a statement in multicoloured stripes from Topshop this summer. With a wrap front and loose drop waist, this dress is the perfect easy and breezy option for formal occasions as temperatures creep up. Keep your accessories neutral and let this frock make a statement.

VIEW NOW - £37.50 | TOPSHOP AT ASOS (opens in new tab)

Do consider dress alternatives

A dress may be your go-to when deciding what to wear to a Christening but there are plenty of other stylish options too if that’s not your bag. A jumpsuit is an instant outfit maker and has that throw-on and go appeal, much like a statement dress.

Alternatively, a stylish two-piece has serious longevity and can be mixed and matched with other pieces in your wardrobe, creating endless outfit options.

Warehouse Blue Floral Print Ruched Front Jumpsuit

Credit: Warehouse

Warehouse Blue Floral Print Ruched Front Jumpsuit | Price: £41.30 | Sizes: 8-16

A jumpsuit is a flattering alternative to the typical Christening attire of dresses. The ruched front of this floral design creates a fitted top half before flaring out to a stylish wide leg. This style works well for both formal occasions and casual weekend outings. For the big day, dress it up with block heels and gold earrings, then try wearing with flat sandals and a denim jacket for brunch.

VIEW NOW - £41.30 | WAREHOUSE (opens in new tab)

brunette model wearing ASOS Design Mix & Match Slim Boy Suit in Blush

Credit: ASOS

ASOS Design Mix & Match Slim Boy Suit in Blush | Price: £55 | Sizes: 4-18

Give your suit a warm-weather update in a sugary pastel hue. This pale pink slim fit trouser suit from ASOS will see you through a range of summer socials. Try styling it with a silky camisole in a contrasting colour underneath for a feminine touch.

 VIEW NOW - £55 | ASOS (opens in new tab)

The best high heels for a Christening:

Although Christenings don’t tend to be as long as weddings, comfort is still key if you’re standing around for much of the day. You don’t have to wear heels but smart shoes are more appropriate. Consider a block heel or chic mule.

“Avoid wearing trainers. Flat shoes are appropriate, and heels are fine, but it is wise to avoid any footwear with too high a heel,” says Lucy.

a pair of H&M black sandals

Credit: H&M

H&M Black sandals | Price: £19.99 | Sizes: 2-9

There’s a high chance you’ll spend a fair amount of time on your feet at a Christening and the subsequent party afterwards, so opt for a comfortable pair of block heels such as this stylish strappy design from H&M. If the event is al fresco, the wide heel will also stop you from sinking into the lawn.

VIEW NOW - £19.99 | H&M (opens in new tab)

Office Foxy Knotted Flat Mules

Credit: Office

Office Foxy Knotted Flat Mules | Price: £39.99 | Sizes: 3-9

Not a fan of heels? These stylish knotted mules from Office in an off-white shade are the perfect flat shoe to heels alternative for special occasions. The neutral colour will work with a variety of outfits this summer, meaning you’ll get more wear for your money too.

VIEW NOW - £39.99 | OFFICE (opens in new tab)

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