What Is the Proper Attire for a Bat Mitzvah?

A bat mitzvah commemorates the transition that a Jewish girl undergoes as she moves from being a child to a young adult with religious knowledge and accountability. To mark this monumental moment, a bat mitzvah is celebrated with a formal religious ceremony and perhaps a reception that require equally proper attire. While modesty is a concept that everyone must abide by when choosing clothing for a bat mitzvah ceremony, there are distinct bat mitzvah attire etiquette rules for men, women, boys and girls.


At more liberal bat mitzvahs, those held at reform or reconstructionist temples, men should wear slacks with a button-up shirt and a pair of dress shoes, while a tie and sport coat or suit are more appropriate for conservative bat mitzvahs. All men, regardless of their religion, should wear a yarmulke. However, only men who are Jewish should wear a prayer shawl, called a tallit in Hebrew. Similar attire, minus tallits and yarmulkes, should be worn to bat mitzvah receptions and dressed up or down based on the formality of the celebration.


Although dresses and skirts that fall below the knee are the most common female attire for bat mitzvahs, a pair of slacks with a blouse is also acceptable. However, all women should make sure that their shoulders are covered. Hats and lace head coverings are also required for women, especially those who are married, at conservative bat mitzvahs. At liberal bat mitzvahs, women can choose to wear a yarmulke and tallit. Women should not carry a purse into the synagogue for bat mitzvahs held on the Sabbath. While the attire worn to the religious service is suitable for daytime bat mitzvah receptions, women should dress up in a cocktail or evening dress with high heels for nighttime receptions.


Similar to male attire, the attire for boys should be somewhat dressy, including slacks and a button-down shirt. A sport coat and tie might also be required for more formal bat mitzvahs. Although every boy is expected to wear a yarmulke, regardless of age, only Jewish boys who are 13 or older should wear a tallit. Boys should also wear slacks and a button-up shirt to casual bat mitzvah receptions and a suit for more formal receptions.


Girls are expected to dress in the same modest attire that women wear for bat mitzvahs. Dresses and skirts should be at least knee-length and shoulders should be covered. A dress or blouse without sleeves can be disguised with a cardigan sweater or light jacket. Girls should also wear dress shoes, such as flats or low heels, with their outfits. Only girls who are celebrating their bat mitzvah or are in their teenage years should wear a lace head covering or yarmulke and tallit. For bat mitzvah receptions, girls should wear semiformal party dresses and dress shoes.