First Holy Communion is a monumental day for young Catholics. For parents who want their kids to look their best, we compiled the best fashions for the big day. Rules vary from parish to parish, diocese to diocese — do the boys have to wear all white or not? — but there are many options available for your little angel this spring.

Some parishes have specific requirements for Communion outfits: White only for girls or — at most — some pink accents. Others are more open to individual touches, like veils, headbands, or ribbons with some color or sparkle.

In the past, dresses were traditionally A-line and either plain or lacy.

Now, “everyone wants their daughter to stand out,” said Stephen Warshaw, accounts manager at Sweetie Pie Collection, one of the largest children’s formal wear manufacturers.

Over the years, many churches have become less conservative than they used to be, Warshaw said. Long and cap sleeves, once required for girls, are not necessarily the norm anymore.

Now, the trend calls for skirts that a lot fuller than they used to be, most with more beadwork on them. The dress is still typically white, but “definitely a lot shinier,” Warshaw said. One dress with lace embroidery, scattered beading, a tulle skirt, and a satin ribbon at the waistline has been their bestseller for years.

Some details about the dresses hold true across the United States, in general. Most customers prefer tea length dresses, so people can see the shoes.

However, particular styles are more popular depending on where you’re based.

People in New England want more lace, beadwork, and shine, Warshaw said. In the South, people tend to choose toned-down dresses that are typically more simple.

“Despite the recent economy, Communion is one thing that buyers would rather pay more for to have a nicer dress,” Warshaw said.

It’s okay for girls who are not fans of poofy dresses to wear a skirt and blouse or dress pants.

Overall, boys’ Communion outfits tend to be simpler.

The traditional white suit is still popular, especially in parishes with a large Hispanic population, said Charles Merrill, general manager of Heritage House, which specializes in boys’ suits. Heritage House has operated out of Miami for more than 45 years.

A striped or paisley-patterned white tie are also very popular to make a white suit stand out, Merrill said.

In Miami, some customers also reach for navy and linen suits. Colored bow ties are also more popular now.

For some of his customers, Communion is such a big deal that they start preparing four to five months in advance.

“We put them off because boys grow!” Merrill said.

— Christina Reinwald

After you peruse the dresses and suits below, go to the Comments section and upload a photo of your First Communicant in her or his finery with a description of the big day.


The most popular dresses from the Sweetie Pie Collection:

Popular items for boys: