Although I tried very hard to focus on the theme of Yom Kippur in synagogue yesterday — repentance — I found lots of bad outfits a serious distraction. (As were the great outfits!) So with the Big Two (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) just behind us and Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share some don’ts with you.
So here are some rules in order of how how frequent and serious the infractions were. (I really want to know what you think the biggest infractions are, so leave your comments.) I think the high holidays are a daytime dressy occasion, and here are some guidelines that make sense in similar dressy occasions (and keep ‘em in mind for next year):
1. Wear a small bag. Synagogue is indoors and serious, and you’re pretty much packed like a sardine in your seat.
So leave the big work-appropriate bag at home, if only because you won’t have room for it at your feet and will be stepping on it with all the up-and-down you’ll be doing. Instead, carry a smaller envelope bag on a long shoulder strap.
2. Be mindful that we are in a new season. To put it bluntly, summer is over, folks! At the end of September, only the most chic and transitional sandals look right. — thin, strappy heels just look wrong — too summery and outdoorsy. (Ditto the Birkenstocks.) Darker, dressier fabrics looked great. Almost anything with white did not. (The notable exception here is the wearing of white as traditional Yom Kippur garb — a definite DO.)
3. Give the heavy makeup a rest. On the holiest day of the year, skip the four-inch heels and the troweled on makeup. The look should be dressy, yes, but also appropriate to a place of worship, whatever your religion. (Same with the jangly armful of bangles or noisy shoes — distractions like these are a no-no.)
4. Know your body. I saw some definite don’ts yesterday, including skirt lengths too short for either the bodies in them or for synagogue (or both). I saw some ankle-length skirts left over from a decade (or two!) ago. In general, the older women seemed to know what was appropriate for synagogue, but the younger women looked as if they’d bought their clothes sometime within the past year or two. So let’s keep all these things in mind: In nearly all instances, clothes from five or 10 years ago aren’t going to make you look your best. (Same with haircuts!) And please, take a critical look in the mirror before you step out. That multitiered mini-skirt I saw yesterday on a very short woman wasn’t doing her any favors, no matter how expensive it might have been.
5. Know the limits of dressy. See #3 above. But don’t be afraid of a few sequins or other shiny stuff. I like that hint of festivity in this situation — again, daytime dressy. A tight, short, scoop-neck black sheath is not what you’re looking for. (And yes, I did see a few tight sheath equivalents — please! you probably aren’t going to a club after services so you probably don’t want to look as if you are!) A dressy suit would be perfect, and so is this long-sleeve dress by Rag & Bones (worn with a good piece of jewelry, tights, and dressy boots.