Myth: For the Celebrate Israel Parade,
you just need to be comfortable.
Truth: You need to look good, too.
When I was in high school, one of my favorite things was working on our school’s display for the Salute to Israel parade. In 11th grade I would come every Sunday to help. In 12th grade, I placed myself on the committee and I would work on the parade display twice a week. It wasn’t easy, but I loved it. When my children were small, I started taking them to the parade to watch. And when my daughter was old enough, she started marching with her school and I loved watching her.
Whether you’re marching in the parade or coming as a spectator, you do need to be comfortable. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking and you’ll likely have supplies to schlep. And the weather could be sunny and hot, sunny and nice, chilly, or rainy, and you need to be prepared. But you mustn’t use any of these as an excuse to look sloppy.
From me, you get the truth.
No matter what physical or technical aspects you’re handling, the Celebrate Israel Parade is a cultural and social event. You will see and be seen by other people. Therefore, you still need to dress well. Don’t worry – it’s not hard. I’ll take you through it from the ground upward.
Sturdy walking shoes are a must. If you have flat shoes with thick sneaker bottoms and you want to wear them, I won’t say no, but lace-up sneakers are safest here because you won’t likely step out of them. However, those sneakers should be clean and neat and not look all beat-up. Black is actually best because it doesn’t look dirty.
With your sneakers, you need good strong socks that will prevent chafing and blistering. Ankle socks that don’t show much are best. Avoid high athletic socks; they’re not flattering and you don’t need them. If it’s chilly out (or if your minhag calls for it), wear hose or tights as needed under your socks.
For your skirt, an A-line shape is always best. Not only is that shape universally flattering, but it’s great here because it gives you plenty of room for walking. Straight is fine if that flatters you and it gives you enough room to walk. Just don’t go too narrow. Not only is that unflattering, but you need room to move. JBTK (just below the knee) is a universally flattering length and it’s perfect here. If you prefer a longer length (like I do), it’s okay to wear ankle-length. But do not go longer; you don’t want to risk tripping. Denim and khaki are the best fabrics because they both have enough structure to work on every frame.
Your top has to be fitted, especially if your skirt is A-line. If it’s warm out, you can wear just one top. A cotton T-shirt works if you don’t need structure, while a button-down shirt works if you do need structure. If it’s chilly out, you can wear layered tops. Make sure that at least one top is in a pretty color that flatters you. It will keep your outfit from looking boring and it will give you an energy boost for all that walking. At least one of your tops should be in the same value (lightness or darkness) as your skirt. That way you get a nice long line.
If you’re carrying a bag, keep it simple and casual. I don’t recommend your regular workday pocketbook for this. It’s better to carry a smallish knapsack or a duffel bag that can hold travel money, ID, keys, extra sunscreen, snacks, and water. But make sure your bag is clean and neat and not beat-up looking. And try not to go too big.
For accessories, keep them simple and minimal. I’d recommend avoiding necklaces and draped oblong scarves because they’ll just get in your way and they may come off too dressed-up. Earrings are best. Go with small studs or tiny drops if you prefer a more subtle look, or longer drops if you prefer a more dramatic look. No chandeliers.
Always make sure you use cleanser, lip balm, light moisturizer, and sunscreen on your face. In general, you’re not required to wear makeup for this, but if you do decide to wear some, keep it to the bare minimum. I wear only mascara, face makeup, bronzer, and gloss.
If you’re wearing your own hair, be aware that you’ll be outdoors in the elements. Now is not the time to fuss with your hair. If it’s straight, wear it that way; and if it’s curly, wear it that way. If it’s long enough, pull it back into a ponytail, braid, or loose up-do to keep it out of the way.
If you want to wear a sheitel, I won’t tell you not to wear one, but remember that this is a relatively casual event and it’s better to save your sheitel for dressier situations that call for it. If you do choose to wear one, keep the style simple; and if it’s long enough, pull it into a ponytail. Otherwise, soft cotton hats, berets, and mitpachot are all great. I happen to feel that mitpachot are particularly appropriate here because they come off very Israeli (my family and I love that). If you do wear mitpachot, go with simple wraps and keep tails to the back or tucked away so that they don’t get in your way.
If you’re marching in the parade, the above rules apply except for two things. First is your bag. Be aware that parade rules may not allow you to carry one in the parade itself, so you need to be prepared for that. Second is the group T-shirt. While the teens and tweens may want to get the largest sizes possible, you should go only one size bigger than your normal size so that you can wear it over your own top. And do wear it. It’s safer when you’re easily identified with your group.
Whether you’re a marcher or spectator, the Celebrate Israel Parade is a fun, cultural, and social event. If you’re dressed well, you’ll be comfortable and enjoy it that much more.
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe organizer, personal shopper, jewelry designer, and fashion writer/blogger and speaker. She helps women look great while saving time, effort, and money, all within tznius guidelines, and she’ll add to that with custom-designed jewelry. Read more about her ideas on her blog- www.truetzniutistruebeauty.wordpress.com. She also has a YouTube channel, “Look Your Best in Mitpachot,” where she does head-wrapping tutorials, and she is also available for private demonstrations. She can be reached at (718) 644-6135 or at MESAtik@gmail.com.