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Published: Friday, Aug. 6th, 2021

What to Wear (and Not Wear) to a Baptism

When it comes to something as important as a baptismal ceremony, you want to dress respectfully for the occasion, and feel comfortable. And a Sunday-best suit or dress might be perfect for a church baptism, but is it appropriate for an outdoor ceremony down by the river? Baptism invitations will sometimes suggest a dress code, but not always. 

 

And because a baptism is a religious ceremony -- a ritual done in a particular way -- your wardrobe should reflect your role in the day. Are you conducting the baptism, or attending as a guest? If you’re the one being baptized, will it be by sprinkling, pouring, or total immersion? Because that will influence what you choose to wear! 

 

You’ll also want to consider denomination, weather, and level of religious formality.

 

Let’s dive in! 

 


If you’re performing a baptism...

 

Baptisms are one of the most enjoyable rites for Christian ministers and clergy to perform, washing away sins and welcoming a new member into Christ.

 

Most traditional denominations have strict attire for clergy, and some (such as those for the Catholic Church) can be complex -- with different colored vestments on different holy days. 

 

Non denominational ministers and pastors follow fewer guidelines, but should dress respectfully and modestly. 

 

 

Do wear :

 

  • a button-up shirt or fashionable blouse, with or without a suit jacket or blazer (any color)
  • long pants, including slacks, khakis, dress pants, and dark-colored linens   
  • a well-fitting dress or long skirt (covering the shoulders and below the knee)
  • dress shoes 


Don’t wear : 

 

  • large or flashy accessories
  • jeans or joggers 
  • shorts, short skirts, or tank tops 
  • fabrics that will be discolored or damaged by water

 


If you’ll be stepping into water to perform an immersion baptism,

we suggest all of the above, in addition to :

 

  • pants are usually best
  • dark-colored clothing that won’t cling or become see-through when wet (stay away from white!)
  • dark-colored undergarments 
  • remove shoes and anything in your pockets

 

 


Pro tip for officiants : 
Bring a towel and a change of clothes. If you’ll be performing the baptism outdoors, dress for the weather and bring a pair of backup shoes to suit the terrain (mud, rain, pool decking, etc).

 

 

 

 

A woman and man hold an infant while he is baptized. The woman wears a white dress and the man wears a white button up shirt, they smile as they look down at the child, who is in a white garment. The officiant's hand is seen reaching out to dry the infant's head with a yellow towel.

 

 

If you’re a guest at a baptism…

 

When attending a church baptism, choose something modest and comfortable with clean, stylish lines. Think “smart casual,” and always err on the side of too formal -- rather than too casual. 

 

Adults: Collared button-up shirts and slacks are appropriate, along with dresses, dress pants, blouses, suit jackets, and blazers. Stay away from jeans, joggers, t-shirts, low-cut tops, tank tops, and high hemlines (above the knee)... and anything tight fitting that shows a lot of bare skin. 

 

Children: Long pants, dresses, collared polo shirts and blouses, and modest skirts are all appropriate for children. Kids should avoid anything too casual, including sandals and flip flops, tank tops, and shorts. 

 

 

 

When attending an outdoor baptism, choose something comfortable that suits the weather. Most of the suggestions above will work, but you'll have a little more flexibility to accommodate the weather and any unusual terrain or locations (such as a muddy riverbank, hiking trail, or community pool). 

 

Choose lighter fabrics for warmer months, but avoid clothing that reveals a lot of skin, including shorts and tank tops. A light button-up and khakis generally works, as will a summer dress with short sleeves. Choose warmer fabrics for cooler months, and don’t forget a light sweater, coat, or umbrella, just in case! 

 

 

 

An action shot of a baptism, the person being baptized is blurry, and water splashes around them as they are immersed in the pool by the officiant.

 


If you’re getting baptized...

 

Infants sometimes wear a white ‘baptismal gown’ during baptisms, usually made specially for the ceremony. Sometimes infants are baptized in their usual clothing, nude, or in a diaper, and are changed into the gown after the cleansing to symbolize their salvation. Bring a small towel to dry them off after the ceremony. 

 

 

For baptism by sprinkling or pouring of water: 
Do wear: 

 

  • a button-up shirt or fashionable blouse, with or without a suit jacket or blazer
  • long pants, including slacks, khakis, dress pants, and dark-colored linens   
  • well-fitting dresses and long skirts  
  • dress shoes with socks

 

 

For an immersion baptism:
Do wear: 

 

  • first, ask if a robe is provided or if you need to bring your own clothing
  • dark-colored clothing that won’t become see-through when wet, such as a dark-colored t-shirt and swim trunks, dark leggings, or a dark robe (unless your denomination prefers white)
  • dark-colored undergarments with full coverage (ex: sports bra, boxers)
  • consider wearing a one-piece swimsuit under your clothing to ensure modesty
  • when choosing how to wear your hair, consider a ponytail, wrapped or dutch braid, or bun 


Don’t wear: 

 

  • white or light fabrics that will cling or become see-through when wet (unless white is specifically preferred by your denomination / church)
  • garments that will easily tangle around arms and legs
  • jewelry and other accessories that could fall off or become lost 
  • shoes (take them off before the ceremony)
  • take your cell phone and wallet out of your pockets first (this is obvious, but… we’ve all been there.)

 

 


Pro tip for those being baptized:  
Bring a towel, hair brush or hair dryer, and change of clothes and undergarments, especially if there will be a celebration or service after the ceremony. If you wear glasses, you might want to keep them off. 

 

 

 

 

White clothing for an infant to be christened in

An infant's white gown and slippers, to put on after their baptism.

 

 


 

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