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Old 03-23-2011, 11:52 AM
102 posts, read 486,813 times
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I've searched several forums on C-D and haven't come up with any info about this, so I'm hoping someone in our NoVa forum can help me.

My daughter is attending her friend's Bat Mitzvah celebrations this Saturday, and I am having a hard time figuring out what she should wear. She only owns one dress right now; it's the one she wore for her 6th grade graduation and, since it's sleeveless and has a fitted bodice, I don't think it's appropriate for the synagogue. Is that correct? Could she wear it to the evening reception though? (I can't find a photo anywhere to show what it looks like, but it has a dark tank-top-like bodice and floral skirt that falls just above the knee. She wore a shrug with it for graduation but doesn't own the shrug anymore.)

I am thinking of taking her to Nordstrom at Tysons to look for something, but all of the styles these days -- as anyone with a tween-ish daughter knows! -- are sleeveless, or strapless, or spaghetti-strappy. It's nearly impossible to find what I would call 'modest' attire. UGH!

So I guess I have several questions:

1) What is the proper attire for the Bat Mitzvah service and Kiddush luncheon?
2) What is the proper attire for the evening reception?
3) Where can we find this proper attire?

Thanks in advance for ANY help!
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:05 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,569 posts, read 12,665,533 times
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To some degree proper attire varies. Orthodox would suggest elbows covered and skirts below the knee. But since this synagogue is in Alexandria, I will assume it is Conservative or Reform. In either case, I would have my child wear a cardigan or some type of jacket over a spaghetti strappy or strapless dress. To me, that is proper. Although, I'm sure there are people who wouldn't.

Generally, most people wear a different dress for the daytime event and the evening event. For the daytime, any dress you would have your child wear to church would be fine. For evening, it depends where it is. If it's in a fancy hotel with an 8-piece band, then something dressy. If it's more of a kids' party at the synagogue reception hall, then a similar dress to the daytime affair would be fine. Kids can get away with most anything. (For adults I'd typically suggest something dressier for evening.) And sleeveless or spaghetti straps would be fine (again, assuming it's not Orthodox). The invitation should give you a clue to the formalness of the event - if it says "black tie optional/preferred" then assume it's formal. You can often get a hint from the wording, style, and paper, too.

The typical bar/bat mitzvah affair these days has a DJ in the evening with all times of games and contests for the kids. They play Coke/Pepsi, limbo, dance contests, etc. Most give out little socks to wear so the kids can take their shoes off and slide. Usually, the kids are up dancing/playing a good portion of the time, so it should be comfortable and roomy to play.

And if you are unsure of a gift, monetary gifts in denominations of 18 are always welcome. The number 18 (Chai in Hebrew) means "life" - think "L'chaim" which means "to life." It is a typical gift that Jews give to each other. A non-monetary gift would be fine, too.

End of Bar/Bat Mitzvah lesson...

Last edited by michgc; 03-23-2011 at 12:14 PM..
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:11 PM
493 posts, read 1,010,108 times
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Not knowing whether it's a conservative, orthodox or reformed (oh, and there are others, too!) synagogue, I would have her dress more orthodox--no bare shoulders, sleeves to at least the elbow, skirt length not too short (hers doesn't sound like it's a mini). But synagogues realize that for celebrations such as this one, there will be more young adults (and with a likelihood that many are school friends and not Jewish), and as long as the dress is not too shocking, they are more lenient.

For the morning service and luncheon: Does your daughter have a little sweater, blazer-like jacket or nice jean jacket she could put over the dress? To me, that would be quite acceptable.

I think this could also be fine for the evening party. Is it going to be a fancy party or what? She really wouldn't have to wear the jacket (except to ride to the event in -- it could be chilly!)--usually kids are running around having fun...

Since Easter is coming up, a lot of shops are selling little topper sweaters and such. I think a little jean jacket would be suitable (flip the cuffs up!) and she'd probably like wearing it cuz it's got a bit of "cool" factor.

I would hit these stores:
Burlington Coat Factory

Because it's coming up fast, I wouldn't waste time with Marshalls and stores like that, because they are so hit-or-miss. Unless you are totally free during the day!

What about shoes--is she good on that?
(Oh, one more thing: Make sure you have her try on the dress to make sure it still fits properly! You don't want the "tweenish" meltdown come Saturday morning. Been there/Seen that/Walked into the next room to let the mom and live-in house & family helper deal with it.)
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:32 PM
Location: The Port City is rising.
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I second what michgc says

I will add that my wife at least, is sometimes scandalized at what young people wear to Bar/batzvah mitzvah parties (and even sometimes to synagogue) especially considering these are 13YO's. But then my wife was raised Orthodox, and left it largely for reasons of feminism, neither of which made her fond of the look that was around a few years back (I think she said fashions are running more modest these days)
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:38 PM
102 posts, read 486,813 times
Reputation: 119
Thank you so much for your help and info!

The events are being held at the Fort Belvoir Main Chapel and Officer's Club. There's no indication about dress code on the invitation. I was scrutinizing it for info.

We're good for shoes as my daughter has a few items for her school orchestra performances.

Now, to the shopping...
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