Getting Dressed: Clothing

First, consider wearing your own clothes

Some members of the bar or bat mitzvah family may want to get a new outfit, and it’s important to some couples to have their attendants wear matching, custom-made clothing for the day. But take a look at your current wardrobe first; there may be opportunities to eliminate waste and expense if you or some of your honored guests can come to your event in their own dress clothes.

Consider rental and vintage clothes

Using previously loved dress clothes for your celebration can save money and resources: 

Consider gemach clothing

Some Jewish communities have developed a communal lending system called a gemach (the word is formed from the first letters of gemilut chasadim/ deeds of lovingkindness):

  • Rise Goldstein maintains a simchah-wear gemach for women in the basement of her Silver Spring home: 301.681.0860, Any women in thecommunity are welcome to make an appointment to browse or borrow from the gemach. Completely free; borrowers are asked to return the dresses, clean, within 30 days after the event for which they were borrowed.
  • Chani Mendlowitz maintains a simchah-wear and wedding dress gemach: 301.681.3411.

Consider clothing made with sustainable fabrics

Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides which pollute soil and water and sicken farm workers. Fabrics made from more sustainable crops, likenhemp, use fewer resources and water than chemical-intensive cotton. Search for formal wear made with sustainable fabrics, or ask the tailor or seamstress who is creating custom-made clothing for your celebration to consider using sustainable fabrics:

  • NearSea Naturals’ online store offers organic fabrics made under fair labor conditions, and other “notions” for greener sewing projects:, 877.573.2913

These boutiques, for example, create custom-designed wedding gowns (and some suits) using hemp silk, organic cotton, and other sustainable fabric:

Consider menswear by workers who have a voice on the job

Two resources for men’s formal wear made by American manufacturers where workers have organized a union to advocate for living wages and good working conditions:

For opportunities to donate your dress clothes for re-use after the big day, see After the Simchah:Leftovers and Cleaning Up