Whether it’s your first Mitzvah or your fifteenth, deciding what to wear to a Bat or Bar Mitzvah can be tough: each party and family is different, and calls for a different level of formality. If you’re struggling to figure out what to wear to the party, here are a few cues that can help you decide what’s appropriate.
1. The time.
Where and when the celebration is taking place is perhaps the biggest cue as to what to wear. If it’s a lunchtime gathering at the family’s home directly following the ceremony, chances are good that you won’t have to dress to the nines. A simple shift dress or a pantsuit will work for these events, just make sure it is modest enough to wear to the synagogue, too.
If the event is at a reception hall, hotel, or private space at a restaurant, opt for something a little fancier, like a cocktail dress and statement jewelry.
This Jovani cocktail dress would be a beautiful choice for a daytime Bar or Bat Mitzvah:
2. The place.
Though some Mitzvah receptions will directly follow the morning ceremony, many will take place later in the day. If the party is more than a couple hours after the ceremony ends, it’s advisable that you change for the second half of the celebration.
Like weddings, it’s a safe bet that if a bat or bar mitzvah is held in the evening (meaning a start time after 5 p.m.), it’s going to be more formal (and call for a matching manner of dress) than a party thrown during the day.
You can’t go wrong with a little black dress, and this one is both sophisticated and modest, since it’s neither too tight, nor too short.
3. The invitation.
Besides the obvious–that the invite may actually specify the dress code–looking at the invitation itself can also offer clarity about the formality of the function. A letterpress envelope with a formal reply card is almost certainly a sign of a fancy gathering, while a flat printed invitation and an email RSVP signals a less formal party.
Does the invitation call for black-tie? Feel free to go all out with a long gown.
4. The family.
How religious is the family? If the Bar Mitzvah is being thrown by a Orthodox or very traditional family (Orthodox families don’t typically throw Bat Mitzvahs), expect to get more dressed up. Ladies, that means opt for a dress, like the one below, instead of a pantsuit.
Remember: It’s a religious ceremony and a big event in the lives of the children being honored. If you’re stuck between two outfit choices, air on the side of formality and modesty.