Ask Martha: What do I wear to a christening?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...


Q. I have been invited to a christening in central London, which I feel sure will be rather smart. As it is about 25 years since I last went to a christening, I am a little unsure as to what to wear. Would a large hat and gloves still be appropriate? Sue Ashworth, by email

A. Dear Sue, I love the sound of your outfit, which reminds me of Cecil Beaton's My Fair Lady. But with a heavy heart I have to tell you that standards in dress have declined shockingly of late. Hatless, gloveless women now attend christenings, some even – brace yourself – in trousers. There is a new dress code for such occasions, and that is fashionable self-expression. Samantha Cameron attended the christening of her last-born hatless, wearing something designed by Marc Jacobs that could be described as a pinny. Geri Halliwell wore a blue shift dress to her daughter's christening because the baby's name was Bluebell. Liz Hurley wore an open décolletage and fur to the Beckham sprog's christening, because she damn well felt like it. The rules are now that there are no rules. So if you feel smart and stylish in your hat and gloves, go ahead and share their glory. If, however, the idea of being the only woman in such formal clothes strikes you as daunting, I recommend the safe half-measure of a "fascinator" from Monsoon.

Q. Do I have to offer my builders tea? HK, by email

A. That all depends if you have a washer you want tightened, a heavy bench you need lifted or, for that matter, a spigot that needs loosening, just for fun.

Q. My romantic possibilities feel limited because I have known all my friends since university. How do I branch out? Cat, Ashford

A. In America they throw "trash for treasure" parties, where women bring ex-partners, old flirting friends and near-misses along for each others' delectation – a bit like a thrift sale for the opposite sex. Why not in Ashford too? I think you should host one, Cat. It would be a way of tapping into the gold mine for singletons that is called "friends of friends". Otherwise, to further the reach of your net, develop some extracurricular interests. No one really likes table tennis, chess, diving or choir, you know, Cat.

Q. Hey, can I link to your website? Guys meet guys online at my website. Ryan

A. I know your game, Ryan. Spam, sir, is an austerity foodstuff, not something I want in my mailbox in the morning. One more unsolicited approach and I am changing my email address. Parasite!

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