Style clinic


Chic but warm in church plus dressed to impress at lunch afterwards

My son is being christened in a few weeks’ time, and I have no idea what to wear to the christening. It’s in a church, so it can’t be anything racy, but we’re going to a restaurant for a casual lunch afterwards, so I don’t want it to be too demure, either. Any suggestions?

Eleanor, by email

Your best bet for the day is a dress, which you can dress up slightly for the church with a jacket or bolero and scarf (churches are notoriously cold, even during christenings) and then you can relax by shedding your insulation during lunch. Go for something in a soft fabric that will be comfy and facilitate picking up and handing around baby, and opting for a pattern will mean any accidents due to over-excitement of said baby won’t show up as obviously as they would otherwise.

This floral dress (above) from Warehouse (€72) will look great with a pair of navy tights and a cardigan. The structured bodice makes it formal enough for the church (plus, there’s neither cleavage nor upper arm in sight), while the flowy skirt keeps it casual enough for afterwards.

If you fancy something a bit more structured, this tulip printed number from French Connection (right, €155) takes its inspiration from a classic 1950s pencil dress.

Layer it over a black polo-neck to make it more modern, or jazz it up with a slim belt and some chandelier earrings.

The pattern will keep it young and fun.

If you have more to spend, this M Missoni dress from Arnotts (left, €700) is stunning.

It’s a fitted dress that veers dangerously close to bodycon, but the knotted detail at the front will keep any unwanted attention away from your midsection and the pattern in the knitwear – yes, this is a knitted dress – is really eyecatching.

Alter my mind about dress or have it altered?

I’ve been in the process of losing weight and plan on losing more this year. This was great news until I tried on a dress I bought in the US last October (tags still on!) that is now too big. I don’t want to keep it hanging in my wardrobe as I don’t plan on ever fitting into it again, but I’m loath to throw or give it away as I quite like it. What’s your advice? Should I donate to a charity shop and move on, or can you recommend an alteration service that won’t butcher it?

Clíodhna, by email

Congratulations, Clíodhna! You must be quite chuffed at the tangible results of your efforts, although I can imagine this dress debacle takes from your joy somewhat (but not a lot).

There are loads of alterations places out there that will, I’m sure, be more than happy to part you from your hard-earned cash and attempt to size your dress down.

You haven’t mentioned whereabouts in the country you are, but in Dublin, Fitz on Drury Street and Upper Abbey Street comes highly recommended. See alterations.iefor contact details.

Elsewhere, ask around and go on word of mouth – a good tailor is a very different animal to a bad tailor, and it can be hard to know the difference.

Personally, I’d be tempted to see the dress as a symbol of your past and leave it there, where it belongs – you could try consigning it (see main piece) or selling it on eBay in order to recoup at least some of your losses.

Use your winnings to buy something in your new, smaller size and move on.