Formalwear-filter, modesty edition
April 12, 2015 1:27 PM   Subscribe

My (Orthodox Jewish) friend is getting married in June in New York. Appropriate dress for the wedding has been described as "fancy" and "very fancy." Which retailers offer very formal, relatively affordable, modest dresses?

I'm in my early 20s, size 2 or 4 with a distinct hourglass shape. The challenge is not finding asuitable dress or skirt + top combo, but one that doesn't look frumpy or old. I want to be excited about what I'm wearing, and feel good in a sea of very well dressed women. I'm very familiar with the Orthodox Jewish/frum part -- formal is the greater challenge.

My criteria:
-below the knee
-covered collarbone
-ideally, 3/4 sleeves, but there are a variety of ways to add arm coverage. Sleeveless with full neckline coverage can be managed.
-under $200, ideally significantly less
-no cut-outs, high slits, etc

I've seen a few other questions about modest dress, but nothing with this level of formality in an American context. Even suggestions of shops to peruse would be much appreciated!
posted by femmegrrr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where do you live? If you live in NYC, you could just go shopping at the stores in Boro Park that cater to the frum community. Although to be fair, some of that clothing might make you, personally, feel frumpy or old.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2015

If you have a small waist, you will look amazing in a 1950's style tea-length dress. Like this, this, or this. Wear with a full petticoat to make the skirt stand out and very delicate, very high heels.
posted by cilantro at 1:47 PM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I hate to say it but David's Bridal is a good source of MOB dresses with a good selection of long dresses with 3/4 length sleeves in your price range. I realise you are far from MOB age but I think many of them would be very elegant on a slim, smaller woman. You can sort by dress length.

PS: To me, "formal" means full-length, fwiw.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with cilantro. Shabby Apple has some good options in your price bracket.
posted by bimbam at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2015

Shabby Apple is one of the "hip Mormon" clothes companies - that's probably the route you're going to see the most success with.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:16 PM on April 12, 2015

A friend of mine goes to a lot of frum weddings and she normally finds dresses that are right on the length front at h and m or forever 21 and then pairs them with cute boleros or some sort of jacket to make the top work modesty wise
posted by KernalM at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2015

Best answer: Tadashi Shoji starts a little above $200 but they hit your other points (longer length, usually with sleeves, fancy).

You might also try Adrianna Papell and Laundry (most department stores carry both these manufacturers) which tend to have sleeves and generally have more coverage while not always crossing over into matronly. They are usually longer on ordinary women than on the models, if you look them up at department stores online.

For "clearly youthful" and "modest", I think the suggestion of vintage-inspired is spot on, although the repro stuff tends to be a little casual (or poorly made). Trashy Diva's coat dress might appeal, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:12 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

My Orthodox Jewish sisters have gotten dresses custom-made by Vampal, starting with something listed there and providing instructions to mod the heck out of them, lengthening sleeves, building up necklines, and so on. (It helps that the sister who handles the order is a graphic designer who can provide a quick'n'dirty mockup in Photoshop.) It's gone well, but you do want to order as far in advance as possible, because delays can happen.
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:19 PM on April 12, 2015

I think the category "mother of the bride" (sorry) may have what you need. Something like this?
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:17 PM on April 12, 2015

Have you browsed on Rent the Runway? I did a simple search filtered for sizes 2/4, long length, black tie formality, and various high neck styles, for a rental under $200, and came up with tons of options. Lots of them don't meet the modesty requirements but many of them do while also looking extremely bomb. Good luck!
posted by telegraph at 6:44 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Many women you age wear a formal dress with a turtle neck / form fitting long sleave shirt underneath to these orthodox things. Or you wear a formal dress with a sweater that you don't take off.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 7:06 PM on April 12, 2015

My wife likes eShakti. Most of their dresses have customizable necklines and sleeve lengths. They have a wedding and events section that would be perfectly suitable for your needs. This dress has an appropriate neckline with customizable sleeve and length.
posted by supercres at 7:26 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was also coming in to recommend eShakti. Right now they've got a $40 off coupon for new customers and a buy two get one free sale. They seem to be offering more formal-type options lately and the nice thing is their dresses are very customizable. If you found one that you liked but it wasn't frum enough they'll add longer sleeves, a longer hemline, and they can change the neckline as well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go buy myself some dresses...
posted by elsietheeel at 7:38 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]
posted by alygator at 10:53 PM on April 12, 2015

I would suggest looking at ModCloth as well -- example.
posted by trillian at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2015

I get married this summer, and my mom is wearing this dress: so cute! in the grey, and we tacked that slit down a little so it's not so high, as my mom is in her mid-50s.

cute cute cute, and modest without being too frumpy.

we also considered this: which has no slit.
posted by euphoria066 at 11:17 AM on April 13, 2015

There are places in Brooklyn where you can rent modest evening gowns. Tulle + Lace is one such place, it's run by young, trendy Orthodox women so the dresses are modest and not generally frumpy but I'm not sure how affordable they are.
posted by doublenelson at 4:30 PM on April 13, 2015

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