Published: Friday, Aug. 6th, 2021
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!
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.
If you’ll be stepping into water to perform an immersion baptism,
we suggest all of the above, in addition to :
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!
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.
An infant's white gown and slippers, to put on after their baptism.
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