Stay in tune with the barmitzvah-suit trends. By Louisa Shulman
SCRIBBLED-ON WALLS and neglected homework are nothing to this. Kitting out your son for his barmitzvah is quite a parental challenge. You’ll have a clear idea of how you want him to look, but he will have a totally different set of images in his little head. Just remember that, at the attirebuying stage, he is not yet a man — so your word goes! However, you do want him to be happy, so it sometimes helps to let him think that he is the boss.
Richard Wood has been putting together barmitzvah looks at his shop Woody’s in Whetstone, north London for more than 21 years.
“We feel that the boy is our customer and we listen to his desires first. Then we try to steer all parties to the same conclusion, so that everyone is happy,” he says.
And while Mum will be on the phone or popping in to discuss the sartorial requirements, the young clients themselves often choose to communicate their wishes by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Head for the shops about three months before the barmitzvah.
If your son is a non-standard size or you don’t want a straightforward, suity look, you don’t necessarily have to go for made to measure. Some shops will let you choose jackets and trousers from different suits. To get the perfect fit, though, go somewhere with an alterations service. Woody’s can completely take apart and rebuild a suit if need be.
“We also offer a full made-to-measure service where we sit down with the client and design the suit and the fabric to any specification,” says Richard. “We have fun playing with different-colour linings, pocket details and embroidering inside the suit, creating something unique.”
A coloured jacket lining to match the theme of the forthcoming function might well satisfy Mum’s theming requirements, without embarrassing the barmitzvah boy. Or it might fulfil the son’s desire to be different or outrageous, while keeping the overall look as classic as a parent could wish.
The number one influence on barmitzvah suits is the music industry — you can gather inspiration from TV or magazines and you’ll get a better idea of what designs might be on your son’s wish-list.
When you think you have found The Suit, have a go at creating several different looks with party shirts, funky t-shirts, trousers and jackets. You’ll eventually find the outfit that feels right for your particular simchah — whether that’s very formal and black-tie, or relaxed and dressed to party. When it comes to ties, beware of chain stores. Woody’s stocks only a few of each style, to avoid any embarrassing encounters with a matching accessory.
Graffiti is a popular finishing touch — you can add the barmitzvah boy’s name or create a logo for your function and carry it right through. Woody’s has an in-store graffiti artist, who can customise anything including kippot, trainers, shirts, jackets and hats. It also has its own crystalliser, who can jazz up ties, shoes and shirts.
Penguin shirt, Autograph at Marks & Spencer, from £11
Autograph blazer, Marks & Spencer, from £38 Print shirt, H&M, £7.99
Trousers by Boy Carrot, John Lewis, £14-£16
Brogues, Marks & Spencer, from £28