Getting Dressed: Clothing

First, consider wearing your own clothes
Some family attendees of the bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, or other festive occasion 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.  Couples can choose a unifying theme or color for their attendants if they'd like.

While you are at it, consider donating clothes you no longer need to a local organization, esp. looking for business attire that can be used by organizations training people to enter or re-enter the labor force.
Consider rental and vintage clothes
Using previously loved dress clothes for your celebration can save money and resources.

For a listing of LA and Bay Area stores where formal wear can be rented, see the Yellow Pages

The LA area and the Bay Area are full of vintage stores. To find listings, check the Yellow Pages,, or try websites such as Yelp,, or SF Station,

Find secondhand bridal wear at Cherished Wedding Gowns, (925.280.0128), in Pleasant Hill. Find out when the Making Memories Foundation,, will be bringing its used and new bridal gown sale to town. In the LA area, try Encore Bridal, They also ship anywhere.

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). Check out the “gmach” section of the LA Jewish Guide,, for leads on wedding dresses and other formal wear to borrow.,, has a local Gemach directory of dresses and other wedding essentials, or consult your local synagogue to see if this service is provided near you.

Consider clothing made with sustainable fabrics
Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides which pollute soil and water and sicken farmworkers. Fabrics made from more sustainable crops, like hemp, 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'
, (877.573.2913), online store offers organic fabrics and “notions” for greener sewing projects.

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

Consider menswear by workers who have a voice on the job
Check out two resources for men’s formal wear made by American manufacturers. At the supplier factories, 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  

“If God attended upon a bride, how much more so should we! The Holy One ... braided Eve’s hair and dressed her as a bride and brought her to Adam, as it is said, ‘And God brought her unto the man.’ [Breishit/Genesis 2:22]
— Pirkei Avot d’Rabbi Natan

“A fancy-clothing gemach would save harried parents of b’not mitzvah many trips to the mall. These party clothes are expensive, yet are only worn a few times before their owners either outgrow them or outgrow the bar/bat mitzvah circuit. By collecting dresses, shoes, accessories, ties, suits, etc., and making them available to the next year’s crop of kids, much would be gained. Such a gemach would create a communal culture that de-emphasizes shopping, and the money not spent on a fancy outfit could be donated to tzedakah.”
—Moti Rieber & Betsy Platkin Teutsch, “Simplicity as a Jewish Path”
“For my wedding, I borrowed a good friend's dress that had been sitting in her closet since her big day. I then asked another friend to make me a new sash in the color that I preferred. I saved money, minimized my carbon and labor footprint, and felt embraced by my friends the whole day!” – Jaime and Tim Barry, Mar Vista

Have suggestions? Real-life stories using these or other ideas? Please share them with us for future versions of the Guide!