Much like weddings, christenings have a dress code. While it’s a fair assumption most know the drill when it comes to nuptials (don’t wear white, try not to upstage the bride and cover up if it’s religious), I’d be the first to admit I don’t understand the rules of dressing for a christening. As someone who has attended a mere two in their lifetime, I decided to speak to etiquette expert and stylist Isobel Kershaw, who gave me some brilliant and simple rules to follow on the best kinds of dresses for the event in question. “There are guidelines for a christening, but not as many rules as there are for a wedding. Of course, with a wedding, you’re trying not to upstage the bride with your outfit, but upstaging a baby isn’t a problem,” says Isobel.
“For a christening, you really want your look to be less structured and softer, although avoid something like a loose cardigan, as that’s too informal. Midi and maxi dresses or even an up-down hem are ideal. While short dresses might work at an evening do for a wedding, they’re inappropriate and not a good fit for a christening. If you really want to look to someone who always gets it right, see what the Duchess of Cambridge has worn.”
The Duchess of Cambridge in an Alexander McQueen dress and a Jane Taylor headband for Prince Louis’s christening.
Isobel also has advice on the type of colour palette you should go for, and I was surprised to hear that it’s not a safe bet to go for more muted tones: “Don’t always think to go for neutrals,” says Isobel. “Try pastels and bright colours—it’s a happy event, after all. You don’t want to go for stark navies or stripes, as that can seem too corporate. If you do go for block colours, think about your yellow-based reds, as these flatter everyone, but break it up with accessories and jewellery.”
As for prints, Isobel recommends dresses such as those from Rixo, as the brand has “modernised [the tea dress print] and made them look a bit more vibrant.”
Besides short hemlines, are there any other dress styles to avoid? “Steer clear of oversized dresses as they can look too informal—it’s best to keep those for a beach. If you have a big bust, a wrap dress is one to avoid, especially if you have a baby pulling at it. I would say that the shirtdress is better, as it’s more on-trend and more structured.”
Before you scroll down for the shopping picks, here’s a quick reminder about those rules:
Style of dress: Shirt or tea dress
Hemlines: Midi, long or asymmetric hem
Colours: Pastel tones, white, yellow-based reds
Prints: Florals are ideal (although others are fine), but feel free to experiment
Avoid: Anything too dark, such as navy or black and white and stripes, as these are too corporate. Wrap and oversized dresses are too unstructured.
SHOP OUR EDIT OF THE BEST DRESSES FOR A CHRISTENING
Throw on blazer for cooler weather.
One you can wear throughout the whole summer.
From one of our favourite brands around right now.
Simple and chic.
The contrasting red with pink is gorgeous.
Warehouse consistently gives us great dresses.
Another winner from Ganni.
Kinda old-school but we love this. The belt will flatter any figure.
Super pretty and guaranteed to work for all those summer weddings you have coming up too.
Pair with a pair of red heels for a bit of contrast.
Gold accessories are a must with this one.
One of our favourite prints from Rixo.
Wear for a christening, a wedding and the office.
Remember to break this up with some accessories.
Ideal for the British weather.
A floral shirtdress nails two christening rules.
It doesn’t have to be all about florals.
Still not over how much we love Batsheva.
Flowing, yes, but not unstructured.
This subtle animal print from Finery will work for a christening.