A bat mitzvah celebration may not only bring thoughts of Torah and temple but, for some girls, also of tulle. Although the main emphasis is on the religious aspect of this coming-of-age milestone, the dress plays an essential part in the bat mitzvah experience. This is the first “special occasion” dress for many girls who want to stand out as the guest of honor.
For the ceremony itself, dresses should be modest with sleeves to cover the shoulder, knee-length or longer suggests the website TheJewishWoman.org. Girls should opt for comfortable shoes over high heels — nobody wants to trip while carrying the Torah. The festivities that follow in the evening allow for a shorter party dress, one that matches a bat mitzvah’s personality.
“It’s such a wonderful time in their lives — and as a Jewish mother myself, having been down this road twice — it’s fun planning — and sometimes a little stressful,” said Laurie Dickman, owner of Laurie’s Bridal in Scottsdale. “The dress shopping experience for these young ladies should always be fun.”
A search on Pinterest for “bat mitzvah dresses” shows mostly short-length party dresses in varying colors that range from pastels to jewel tones for the after party.
“Light tones such as pretty blush and light blue are top trends for bat mitzvah dresses for 2022,” according to Jovani in New York, a brand known for designing high-quality dresses at affordable prices. “Fabrics can be textured or with added sheen, such as layers of tulle or glossy satin. Soft and feminine, these options are ideal for any bat mitzvah.”
“We are seeing all different colors, from lavenders and pinks to pretty blues and even brighter colors, like oranges and hot pinks,” said Dickman.
“Patterns and bright colors are more popular than ever before,” said Felicia Kessler, co-founder of Celebrity Tux and Tails, with locations in Gilbert, Peoria and Tempe.
“Colors for this season are jewel tones in hot pinks and electric blues and black and white graffiti,” said Jenny Weinstein, owner of Jenny’s Dresses and Accessories in Scottsdale. For years, artists have moved their art from walls and the side of trains to fashion and the result is graffiti on jackets, shoes, hats and party dresses.
“Nothing surprises me when it comes to fashion,” she said. “When you have a great fashion stylist anything and everything is possible.”
Suk-Hui Banks, owner of Suk-Hui, Ltd. unique custom fashions, said she has been making more dresses in silk lately, with red and emerald green being popular colors. She admitted she has been doing more custom dresses for weddings lately instead of b’nei mitzvahs.
Banks, who now works out of her home in Paradise Valley, used to have a storefront in The Shops at Hilton Village shopping center in Scottsdale. There, she would often make dresses for the bat mitzvah girl, her mother and grandmother. Designing different ones for the shul and the party at night.
Since the guests often wear more understated dresses, the bat mitzvah girl may want to stand out with a bit of sparkle.
“I do see my mitzvah customers add their own little touch to their dresses, whether it’s adding a sparkly belt or straps; it’s nice to see how creative they can get and have fun doing it,” said Dickman.
Mothers and grandmothers who want party dresses often opt for more muted tones in navy, metallic, wine, ivory or black.
And for mothers and grandmothers who don’t want to wear a dress, Kessler said there are more options available for women who want to wear suits or tuxedos for special occasions.
“When the ladies are selecting their suits with us, we do recommend one button jackets. They’re more suited to the female proportions and physique,” she said. “Just like the guys, alterations are key for the ladies to ensure proper fit.”
Even though dresses may still be the go-to for special occasions, it can still be customized.
Banks said that she recently designed a dress for a grandmother with a hidden surprise. “The dress was gray and the lining was a leopard print that would show a little bit when she moved.”
Jovani’s website states: “The best dress is one that feels comfortable or has a flattering fit. As you go shopping, it’s a great idea to try on a variety of styles. Many girls gravitate towards that cute princess-style silhouette. It includes a fitted bodice (with any neckline, strapless or sleeves) and then a flared skirt with pleats and plenty of volume. It looks great in photos and on the dance floor.”
“In Arizona, most mitzvah dresses are short,” said Dickman. What surprises her most is when a customer says that someone told them their dress must match the theme. “I always tell all my customers that their dress needs to match them and not to worry about the theme. When my customers find the perfect dress, their smile says it all — and they don’t want to take it off!” JN