Life & Culture

Celebrate! The Yomtov outfit is back

After two miserable pandemic years, it's time to rediscover the joy of festive frocks


The tradition of buying new clothes for our most important chagim has been eroding for well over two decades, least for grown-ups. Economic and societal changes and shifts in buying patterns played a part before environmental concerns gave an extra nudge. Two years of pandemic, with little or no synagogue attendance and proscribed Passovers with Zoom sedarim or no sedarim at all, was surely the final blow for the “Yomtov Outfit”.

Or maybe not. The Jewish calendar aligns so perfectly with the need for new-season fashion — new autumn pieces at New Year and new spring ones at Pesach — it would be a pity to drop the tradition altogether. Instead we should adopt the same rules that we apply to the rest of a modern wardrobe: choose truly versatile stand-out pieces that can be styled in one way for synagogue or seder and another way for other parts of our lives.

Whether you shop high end or High Street, you will find dresses and skirts with hemlines, cuts, prints and colours, perfect for the season as well as for seder and synagogue.

Tiers, splits, asymmetry, frills and ruffles continue as key details on dresses and skirts. Midi and maxi remain the key lengths, with the mini offering an alternative aesthetic.

In dresses, there are still plenty of statement sleeves while neckline shapes include the directional square neck, as well as shirt-style, Vs and simple round-necks.

In skirts, the more streamlined silhouettes of mid-calf A-line or pencil shapes and sarong-type skirts in all lengths offer an alternative to the hippy vibe of frills and tiers.

Myriad pastels and paint-box brights are on offer, though pink, green and blue are vying to be named the season’s hottest hue. Key neutrals include beige, navy and cream. There is also pattern of every kind, from sweet florals and bold blooms to animal print, abstract, paisley and ikat as well as spots, stripes and checks.

Polished accessories elevate the relaxed vibe of the denim dress — a key piece for spring — making it perfect for synagogue or Seder. Alongside the designer versions by, among others, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Chloe, many high street brands have desirable denim dresses including Monsoon, M&S and And/Or at John Lewis.

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