By Bari Cener
Ask a girl what her favorite part of planning her Bat Mitzvah celebration is and you’ll likely get a resounding vote for THE DRESS! For many girls, in fact, it’s several dresses; one for synagogue, one for the party, and perhaps one to change into later in the evening or for a second-day affair.
Remember that this is a religious rite of passage and the service dress should reflect that. A classic A-line or form fitting dress in a subdued tone can be paired with a ballet flat or even a nice wedge to add a little personality. Even if your synagogue doesn’t have a specific skirt length that is deemed appropriate, “the family’s values should be kept in mind,” says Rachel Pouyafar, owner of It’s Simple For You in Syosset. “If Grandma is Orthodox, there’s no way the skirt should be above the knee.”
But we know the dress your daughter is really dreaming about is the one for her party. Finding a dress that both mom and daughter love doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you both adhere to certain guidelines.
“The dress must be age appropriate,” says Cortney Cohen, co-founder of Best Dressed NY. “A lot of these dresses are made for older girls, but can be altered for a 13-year-old’s body. Not all girls should wear a deep sweetheart neckline; fit is so important.”
This season delivered some of the hottest styles we’ve seen in awhile. This year it’s about achieving a look — edgy, sweet or somewhere in between. We’ve talked to the experts, we’ve checked out the runways and we’re telling you what it’s all about.
It’s All About The Texture
The edginess of leather with the femininity of lace, or the richness of velvet paired with the wispiness of chiffon adds instant drama to a dress. “The mixing of materials, particularly the heavier fabrics that are associated with a more mature look, is an easy way to accommodate a younger woman,” says Erica Serotta, also co-founder of Best Dressed NY. Lace dresses in every possible color walked the runway this season. “A dress done completely in lace can be overwhelming,” says Cohen. “But paired with an airier fabric like tulle, it looks youthful and elegant.”
It’s All About The Hardware
Photo credit: Sherri Hill, Photo credit: Cortney Cohen
Drawing inspiration from Valentino’s Rockstud collection, nail heads and studs are edgy little details that add dimension. Graduated beading has been a long-lasting trend, and it’s a good way to incorporate a lot of bling. “The look you want is one of elegance and fun. Heavy beading on the neckline that sprinkles down onto the skirt won’t overwhelm the girl,” say Serotta. For those who want something a little different, consider a dress with a high, embellished neckline or one with a necklace already built in.
It’s All About The Investment Piece
Custom dress for Best Dressed NY, Photo credit: Cortney Cohen
No matter which denomination of Judaism, it is in good taste and proper form to keep your shoulders covered in the sanctuary. Many girls find a suit “stuffy,” and prefer to wear a dress. If so, consider a feather shrug or a fur wrap over your arms. “It’s an investment piece that you can wear with anything from jeans to a party dress for years to come,” says Serotta.
It’s All About The Heavy Metal
Forget black, white or tan…the new neutrals for the season are metallics like nickel, gold, silver and copper. “The metal colors photograph really well and you don’t have to worry about it clashing with your party’s color scheme,” says Serotta. On ombre dresses (where the color goes from light to dark lengthwise) jewel-toned sparkle pairs nicely with dark grays and other deep colors.
Mitzvah tips for getting the right look:
• There’s nothing like the classics: Pastels like baby pink and light blue will always be popular- and why shouldn’t they be? These are 13 year old girls after all! If you’re looking for something a little less cutting edge, there’s nothing like a beautiful ball gown in a soft color. Something in between? Try a jewel-tone cocktail dress in emerald green. “It’s universally flattering on all different skin tones and hair colors,” says Cohen.
• If the shoe fits: The biggest fashion faux pas is wearing shoes that you can’t walk in, “says Cohen. Do a walk test, she suggests. “If you can walk comfortably, then the height of the heel is fine.”
• Shine on: “A bracelet and earrings is all the jewelry that a girl needs,” says Pouyafar. “It’s the old saying of ‘less is more’– you don’t want your jewelry to compete with your dress.” That said, a stunning clutch dripping with beading is nothing to shy away from to complete the total look.
• Synagogue cover up: In most synagogues, it’s appropriate to cover your arms and shoulders for the service. “A girl can wear a sheath with a bolero, or we have a wrap that attaches to the dress and isn’t annoying,” says Rachel Pouveyer of It’s Simply For You in Syosset. Or why not try a dress with a classic cap sleeve; a look, Sherri Hill debuted in their Fall 2013 look book.
• Think custom: When you’re truly looking for something one-of-a-kind, a custom dress is the best way to get everything you want. It also might be the best choice when mom and daughter don’t see eye to eye. “Sometimes a custom dress is a good compromise that will satisfy both of them,” says Pouyafar.
Custom Dress It’s Simply For You, photo credit: Art Photographers
While the girls have all but abandoned wearing a suit for their service, it’s still a must for a boy. “Everything is a little trimmer and slimmer,”says Steve Worby, owner of The Clothing Center in East Brunswick, N.J. “The trend is slim fit, two button side vented jacket with a flat front trouser in navy, gray or black.” Dress shirts have also been given a revamp, and colors like aqua, lavender, and raspberry are replacing a classic white shirt.
And-deep breath, parents: the biggest change has been the attire worn to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration (if it’s not directly after synagogue). “It’s really changed from sports jackets to a pair of nice dress pants and a non-tucked-in shirt,” says Worby. “Most boys change into the favor t-shirt or simply take the jackets off.”
Having a more traditional celebration? The classic approach, a pleated pant and jacket in a conservative, pinstripe gray or navy never goes out of style.
This story is from the 2013 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.