What To Wear To A Bat Mitzvah – An Insider’s Guide

As someone who has attended more than my fair share of bar and bat mitzvahs, I’ve learned the hard way how to dress for a bat mitzvah.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: I’ve been to more than my fair share of bar and bat mitzvahs. It’s an experience that most Jewish children have, but it’s also one that non-Jews are often curious about (and it even pops up on a famous episode of Gossip Girl). In fact, a friend of mine once asked “Do you wear some sort of special dress? Like, a Lilly Pulitzer kind of thing? Or do you just show up in whatever you were wearing that day?” The answer to both questions is no.

In general, when attending a bar or bat mitzvah service, it’s important to consider your level of comfort and familiarity with Jewish customs. You don’t want to be disrespectful or distracting by dressing inappropriately—or worse, look like an idiot next to everyone else there dressed in their best clothes. So what should you wear to a bat mitzvah anyway? First things first: Let’s define this ceremony.

Don’t wear a white dress.

Rule number one, do not wear white. It is not the color to rock at a bat mitzvah. People will think you are trying to steal the spotlight or be a bridezilla. I’m not sure why some people think it’s okay to wear white these days, but believe me, no one wants that accessory on your body on this day. This also goes for bar mitzvahs and weddings! Don’t you dare show up in white! And even if there is a funeral happening at the same time (which I hope never happens) don’t wear white either!

Do not wear that little black dress with those red stilettos to meet your girlfriends for lunch either! That outfit should only be worn on special occasions like say… birthday parties!

Respect the dress code, if one is listed.

Here are some expert tips to help you figure out the best way to dress for a Bat Mitzvah:

  • Respect the dress code, if one is listed. You may have an idea of what you’d like to wear, but make sure it fits with the suggested attire on the invitation or event page. If there’s no mention of what to wear, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask your host or hostess if they have any suggestions. This will also give you insight into how formal or casual the event will be.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to move and dance freely throughout the night. Bat Mitzvahs are known for being fun parties filled with dancing and socializing—and uncomfortable shoes can put a damper on things quickly! If you want to wear high heels, pack a pair of flats in your purse so you can change into them when needed.
  • For kids attending a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (or any kids’ event), make sure their outfits are as comfortable as possible so they’re able to enjoy themselves without worrying about their clothes causing discomfort or embarrassment.

Dressing for Jewish holidays or wearing Jewish symbols or anything blue is never a bad idea for a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah celebration.

Dressing for Jewish holidays or wearing Jewish symbols or anything blue is never a bad idea for a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah celebration. I have worn the same blue dress to many, many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. It’s appropriate, chic and it makes me feel connected to my culture. If you don’t have something in your closet that fits this criteria then you can always buy a cute themed t-shirt from Etsy.

When attending a Bar Mitzvah, you might consider either dressing formally or semi-formally depending on the event. While there will never be an issue with dressing up too much, I would recommend avoiding excessively causal looks like jeans and t-shirts as these may make you stand out in an unpleasant way (and not in a good way).

Don’t wear black!

Don’t wear black! Black is a color of mourning and is generally associated with death. As far as I know, no one has died at a Bat Mitzvah or even been sick (this is not the case at weddings where I’ve heard of people dying or getting sick…but that’s a different story). It’s also not appropriate to wear black to a wedding. Since Bat Mitzvahs are right in the middle of wedding and funeral, it seems like you can never go wrong if you think about it as a celebration that falls somewhere between the two.

Even if you think wearing black makes you look thinner, it doesn’t! And for all those reasons above, don’t do it!

Dress to participate in whatever activities the event includes (besides dancing).

Dress to participate in whatever activities the event includes (besides dancing).

While you won’t likely be doing cartwheels or climbing into a swimming pool, you may find that you’re doing more than expected. Bat Mitzvahs are held at a variety of venues, from bowling alleys to country clubs. Some have an outdoor component, like a cocktail hour on the lawn. Make sure you have shoes that will allow you to comfortably enjoy whatever activities the venue offers!

Bat Mitzvah guests can also work up quite an appetite after hours of singing and dancing away with their newly-found friends on the dance floor. If your Bat Mitzvah event features a buffet, wearing flats or other comfortable shoes will come in handy as there’s plenty of table maneuvering required when carrying plates and drinks back and forth from the food tables to your seat!

Be sensitive to other faiths, and keep covered up if you aren’t sure what the rules are.

You might be wondering about what to wear to a Bat Mitzvah if you are not Jewish and aren’t aware of any of the traditions. There’s no need for worry, even if you’re uncertain about the rules for attire. The best rule of thumb is to keep your shoulders, chest and legs covered up until you understand what the religious clothing rules are (for example, in some religions women are supposed to cover their heads). Once you know that, it is easy to find an outfit that will make sure your hosts feels comfortable and respected.

Don’t wear jeans, unless there is definitely a “casual” dress code specified.

No matter how nice the jeans are, they are not appropriate for any of these things. And if you are going to a morning ceremony, definitely leave them at home!

If you’re looking for that casual vibe, go for something like a cute dress or a skirt with a fun top. I would personally avoid shorts because it is still a religious event and I want to be respectful of that. That said, I know plenty of teens who wear shorts to bat mitzvahs in the summer and no one cares. Wearing items like cardigans or blazers over your outfit is another good way to add flair while maintaining an air of formality.

Check the forecast.

Let’s start with the most obvious step in preparing for any event: checking the weather forecast. A few days before you head to your bat mitzvah, open up the accuweather app and see what’s going on! If there’s a chance of rain, take an umbrella or raincoat so that you can stay dry while you watch Joey and Abby cut the rug. If it looks like it will be hot out, then wear light clothing. Or if it looks like it will be cold out, take a jacket to keep yourself warm.

A guide to help you know how to dress for a bat mitzvah party

A crash course in bat mitzvah attire:

Attire for a bat mitzvah is dictated by the formality of the location, time of day and the type of ceremony. If you are unsure about what to wear to a bat mitzvah, the invite or the bar/bat mitzvah’s family should provide guidance on any dress code requirements. If in doubt, a safe bet is always to err on the side of more formal than casual.

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