Modest is as Modest Does

Dressing modestly was probably pretty far down on my list of things to do, when I  became frum. It’s not that I dressed particularly immodestly – I wore baggy jeans and baggy sweatshirts all through university; and I never went for tight skirts or plunging tops.

But the concept of wearing only skirts just didn’t appeal to me. It seemed way to ‘old’; and to be a statement that I would never ride a bike or jog in public again.

That’s when I was in my early twenties. I got married at 23, and then another element of ‘tznius’ came into play: should I, or shouldn’t I, cover my hair?

I decided I shouldn’t. Not because I thought G-d didn’t want me too – on the contrary, I knew I should be doing it. But it was just so hard. I have thick, black, curly hair that over the years has become almost my calling card. If I covered it up, I’d have to chop it off or risk passing out from heat exhaustion.

If I covered it up, in the UK workplace, I’d have to wear a wig or risk really standing out from the crowd, which I didn’t have the self-confidence to do. And wearing a wig just wasn’t ‘me’.

And so, every few years the question of dressing more modestly would crop up, and I would gently pat it away, to be dealt with at some point in the future, when I would need to be more consistent in my frumkeit.

That time came when my first child was born, and started to attend an orthodox school where the dress code for parents picking up stated that any woman on school premises had to be wearing a skirt.

A lot of my fellow parents complained about it; but I thought it was a fair request. The school was orthodox, it was teaching an orthodox way of life, and wearing skirts – for girls and women – is an halachic requirement.

At first, I thought I’d wear a skirt to drop my daughter off, and pick her up, and then change into jeans in between. But 3 changes a day wasn’t practical, so what happened instead is that I went out and bought a few more skirts, and started wearing them every day except on Sundays, when it was the weekend.

I have to say I did notice a difference. I did feel less ‘young-looking’ in some ways; but I also felt more feminine and less ‘hard’. Difficult to explain, but I started getting a lot more compliments from my husand. I also realised that shopping was SO much easier, when you were limited to buying longish skirts. I hate shopping, so having my choices curtailed by tznius factors was like a blessed relief.

Then we moved to Israel, and I started to only wear my jeans on the plane trips back to the UK. But something about Israel persuaded me that even that was a stretch to far, and last year, I donated my jeans to the local clothing charity.

But hair covering was still a big no-no. It was even hotter in Israel; it was even harder to do it, in some ways. It was even more of a statement of religious belief. It’s a long story, but to cut it short, I finally realised that it’s what G-d wants; and at least in Israel, I could cover it exactly how I wanted, without standing out from the crowd too much.

But it was still a shock to the system. For the first few weeks, I felt that my (chiloni) neighbours were looking at my new bandana quite suspiciously; it was like wearing a t-shirt with ‘I am properly frum’ emblazoned on the front.

But after a few weeks, both they and I got used to it. That was almost a year ago. Today, I’m only wearing skirts, and covering my hair – although not all of it, but that’s a topic for another conversation entirely.

A few months’ ago, I was talking to my friend, another BT, who had also struggled with maintaining a sense of her own style, when she became frum. As we talked, we realised this must be an issue for a whole bunch of BTs – and so, we decided to do something about it.

We have put together a website,, which sells affordable, fashionable clothes that are modest, but still stylish. We’re starting it on a shoestring, but as it develops, we’d like the site to become a forum for frum ladies to discuss clothes and fashion, and to share tips and experiences. As you’ll see if you visit, we’ve tried to kick things off by discussing what can happen when you cover your hair and you want to go down a water flume…

But it’s a work in progress, and we’d love to get more feedback from the Beyond BT community on it. My friend and I know from our experiences that ‘dressing frum’ is often one of the hardest parts of ‘living frum’. By launching, we’re hoping to make dressing modestly easier and more enjoyable, and also to make the point that dressing tzniusly doesn’t always have to mark such a radical departure from what came before.

63 comments on “Modest is as Modest Does

  1. Ora ,
    Thanks for the comebacks änd insights on males, modesty must do’s and baby birthing. Interesting take on the nine months before the baby comes pain. I never thought of it that way. Or any way other than it being one long hardcore hangover with an end of the year birth pain bonus. So I’m thinking eventually if I do decide to do the mother thing änd have a halachically pure baby would the judge step in and override my name choice should I decide to name my baby , BBT junior. Maybe ill get him or her little baby t shirts with slogans like “my mother beyondbt’d therefore I am”. Or “beyondbt comment blogging & hogging is good for babies or “born and being bred on beyondbt threads”.

    Miriam P, its been quite the comment trip celebrating Taharas Hamishpacha Tutoring Tuesdays w/u.
    Thanks for your insights.

  2. In the book of Samuel (Me’am Loez) the Israelites were punished for looking at the Ark when it was uncovered. Me’am Loez says that “when something it holy, its honor is upheld by its being covered.” When the Ark rested in the Holy of Holies, it was concealed by the curtain…

  3. Jaded,
    you wrote:
    “Also, regarding your eloquent reasonings for mandatory mikvah dipping rules änd regulations, how does it work when one can avoid these requirements for long periods of time.”

    I have a whole bunch of kids. I’ve done the “long periods of time” of not having the on-again off-again thing many times. It by no means erases the relationship strengths gained through occasionally being not available to one another. No one said it had to be 2 weeks on 2 weeks off to work. Even 9 months on and 6 weeks off and then however months of nursing on until cycles resume still contains that “off” time. Once a husband internalizes that he doesn’t “own” the rights to his wife’s body and has learned to also treat her as not only as person but as a friend, they might not need the reminder quite as much. It certainly doesn’t turn rancid.

    That explanation for “do not talk excessively to a woman” took into account the traditional roles of the day when it was written. It was a given that the women were in charge of running a household, and therefore the men (who would be hopelessly lost if asked to oversee the cooking, much less do it) needed to get out of the way and let her do her job. Today those traditional roles are still found among the orthodox community, but not exclusively… but it wasn’t written for today’s society, after all.

    As for male dominance, like I said, you’re looking for it. I don’t see it. I see DIFFERENT roles for men and women. I don’t need to hold a public role, or daven for the amud or lein from the Torah to be fulfilled. I don’t see men ranting and raving that they are unable to bear children, (they’re actually probably grateful they get to skip all the pain of labor) but the ability to grow, nurture and bring new life into the world is, well, it’s God-like. Worth every little bit of pain and hardship.

  4. More thoughts for Jaded,
    I just had another thought, I think that ultimately the things that bother you aren’t part of the fundamental reality of Torah so much as later additions due to our current state. So for example, it’s completely natural to feel that seperation in shul and modesty laws aren’t quite “right,” because both were the result of a spiritual decline. In an ideal state, ie first Temple times/gan eden, those laws weren’t around.

    I still think it’s important to keep those laws, because as I said in my last post, it’s part of today’s reality that we ignore at our own risk. But it makes sense IMO to have more difficulty with them.

    Also, somewhat off topic, I remember before you were asking about the pregnancy/hangover connection, and now childbirth has come up, so I think I’ll address the pg/birthing/etc issues here. In my experience, the main difference between pregnancy and illness is that illness feels somehow wrong, like something that shouldn’t be happening to your body, while pregnancy feels right. It’s like the difference between spraining an ankle and feeling your muscles burning during a long run. One feels “right,” because it’s actually a positive step towards building your body, while one feels “wrong.” Of course, not everyone feels like I do on this.

    I think the main sign that pregnancy and childbirth aren’t things to avoid is that so many women, the majority on earth even, choose to do them more than once. Despite the morning sickness, exhaustion, weight gain, and extreme pain of birth, most women think “that was 100% worth it, I think I’ll do it again.” I had a relatively easy pg and birth, but even my friend who was constantly sick and another friend who had two days of labor agree with me that it was worth it. All of us are impatiently waiting to do it again.

  5. With no offense to the men on this board, I’m sure many of you are among the other 00.01% of the male population who are so spiritually attuned that you don’t even notice if the women around you are in burqas or bikinis.

  6. Jaded–You didn’t respond to my earlier post, so I’ll try to rephrase. Do you not think there’s equal opportunity chauvanism? Would you really be satisfied if the roles were reversed that women were being treated well, or would you be offended by all of the references to men as more spiritually attuned, men as more able to control their urges, wives should ignore abusive behavior from their husbands, etc.

    Also, the phrase is don’t talk excessively with women, not ignore women. Obviously if you read it the second way you’ll be offended, but I don’t know why you would read it the second way.

    Ultimately, for me at least, the question isn’t whether or not some certain phrase/ blessing/ halacha offends my western sensibilites, but whether or not it’s true. As an example, whether or not I like it or understand why, when women take over male roles in synagogue it seems to lead to a male/female dynamic that is noticably different than that I see elsewhere, and IMO not in a good way. I can tell people that they “should” be able to let anyone read from the Torah without changing a thing, but that won’t change reality. I think a lot of people get too wrapped up in “should(n’t)” and not “is.” A man “should” be able to respect a woman for her personality no matter what she’s wearning, but that’s just not reality 99.99% of the time.

  7. Miriam P,
    Also, regarding your eloquent reasonings for mandatory mikvah dipping rules änd regulations, how does it work when one can avoid these requirements for long periods of time.Then it doesn’t matter that “the husband might view the wife as a sex object” and the relationship without sex perks do those kind of in depth two week moments suddenly become so last season reasonings.And subsequently just go rancid like bad acid.

  8. Miriam P ,
    That explanation for “do not converse excessively with women” definitely wins the male chauvinism moment of the month award !!!! So the pious husband goes out and about inviting the hungry and then he does the wife a favor by ignoring her! So she can work hard in peace dutifully practicing what her pious husband is preaching. Why is the wife not out and about inviting the hungry comforting the poor and then ignoring her husband so that he could work so hard in peace cooking for all those hungry people ?

    Sorry that directive is exceedingly difficult to understand as is the reasonings for mandatory after marriage hair covering and the related list of endless laws.

    And you don’t need to look for the “male dominance” its everywhere.If your happy letting your love for “traditionalism” keep you perpetually sidetracked that’s your choice.The “male dominance” is just way too distracting for my kind of brain to ignore änd ór focus on any sidetracks of sentimental traditionalism.

  9. Jaded, I heard a wonderful explanation for “Do not converse excessively with women.” The passage in question come from Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) mishnah daled (4). It says “Let your house be open wide, let the poor be members of your household; and do not have excessive conversation with a woman…” (from the schottenstein Edition, produced by Mesorah/ArtScroll) The explanation went as follows: you just invited all the poor to come and eat, etc., with the rest of your household. Your wife has a ton of work to do to make that work, so get out of her way and don’t waste her time with idle chatter!

    You’re looking for male-dominance, so you’re going to find it. I see beauty in the “traditional” ways that is just invisible to you. It’s called cognitive dissonance, and is well documented. People will see what they expect to see and completely miss that which they consider impossible.

    But modest is a poor translation for Tznius anyway. Hebrew-English isn’t a one to one correspondence, you know. But even taking that definition and running with it, have you read Wendy Shalit’s “Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue”? Very un-tzniusdik cover photo, and I haven’t actually read the book, just excerpts, but my understanding is that Ms. Shalit posits that a world in which women generally dress as if they are sexually available, leads to men generally viewing women as if they are sexually available. This leads to an increase in such phenomenon as rape and date rape, Ch”v’sh (it should never happen). Not that a woman who is raped, date or otherwise, is ever somehow personally at fault for dressing immodestly, as some people have misunderstood her as saying! Just that society somehow encourages it by encouraging young women to flaunt their bodies. I think there is something to be said for dressing modestly, frum or not, and the freedom to be a sexual object (other than to my husband and even then not only that) is not a freedom I seek. I’d much rather be seen as a person rather than an object. And anyone who tells you that hair isn’t sexy is lying. (I refuse to get into the whole wig thing. I’m not a big wig person myself, much preferring snoods. But pretty ones! Yes, I think snoods can and should be pretty. And not just because I own heavenwarddesigns. Or actually, that’s why I created heavenwarddesigns.)

    The laws of mikvah, Jaded, play into that as well. They are not intended to punish the woman, but to help her husband realize that he doesn’t own her body, and thus he has to (at least two weeks of the month) treat her as a person instead of as a sexual object. It leads to a more balanced and deeper, stronger relationship between husband and wife, and as hard as it sometimes is, I wouldn’t give up the depth it has added to our relationship.

  10. I was looking at one of my kids’ Calvin and Hobbes comic books last night and in one panel, Calvin asks Hobbes something along the lines of, “How do you think a person should be judged morally? By what’s in his heart or by his actions?” (He’s angling for a good judgment, perhaps for Santa Claus purposes, despite his awful behavior.) So Hobbes says, “I think his actions tell you what’s IN his heart!”

    We can probably say more or less the same thing about tzenius, can’t we? More or less?

  11. My suggestion to anyone bemoaning the way modest clothing looks on frum women; check out some of the Christian dress wear sites – now those are dumpy! And let’s not even discuss burkas here.

    From my viewpoint, we, as frum women, have managed, with a bit of creativity, to look quite fashionable.

    My husband has often told over a d’var torah about how modest dress is one of the key factors differentiating Jews from others. And this doesn’t only apply to women – it wouldn’t be appropriate for a Jewish man to march down the street bare-chested either.

    Re Shietels – the first one is the hardest. After awhile it can even become somewhat “fun” because you can completely change your look from one day to another – like having an everyday shietel and a Shabbos/simcha piece. And these days, with hat falls, hairband falls, et al, there’s a lot of variety. I’m shre you’ve noticed how these days the young kallahs get shietels that look exactly like their own hair to minimize the “trauma” of covering one’s hair.

    Which brings me to the point of wishing all of you celebrating anniversaries a mazel tov.

  12. Re:
    “Jaded Topaz
    June 24th, 2007 19:28 48”:

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think she flipped her wig.

  13. Leah, thanks for the mazal tovs. And mazel tov to you and Eliahu on your upcoming anniversary. It’ll be 31 years for Bob and me on 14 Cheshvan.

    I also agree with what you said in the rest of your post.

  14. Jaded, just a side point–birthing doesn’t have to be terrifying.. with the right education, support and understanding of the process it can end up being the highlight of a woman’s life.

  15. Bob Miller,
    So are u suggesting that the answer to my “snippety” sincere points & questions on material modesty must do’s and their seemingly direct relation to covert male chauvinism and no real relation to freedom of conceit pursuits and concerns, is to stop the questioning, praise everyone often and ummmm give away all my jeans to the salvation army. And then start “wear the wig all week” nationwide wig-athons.Why wait till marriage get bonus spiritual brownie points and wear your wigs way way before your demanded to ! Maybe its the new reverse psychology shidduch crisis remedy, potential husbands will be attracted to the “off limits” wig touting babes.And everyone will be married in no time and wig wearing will be a cinch.

  16. Shalom Bob,

    Re post 43, to you and Sharon: :-) mazel tov, mazel tov! How many years? We’re celebrating our 4th anniversary on 13 Av.

    Re post 46: That is my growing concern too. In this and other threads, where fundamental aspects of observancy or outreach can create such negative reactions, I do have to wonder what the heck is going on????


  17. I think there is some understanding that the participants in this forum look favorably on teshuva, and have done it themselves to some degree at least, and are not opposed to others who have done it. So comments sniping at tznius or its conceptual basis make me wonder what’s going on here.

  18. Katrin,
    Heres merriam webster black and white definition.
    Main Entry: mod·es·ty
    Pronunciation: ‘mä-d&-stE
    Function: noun
    1 : freedom from conceit or vanity
    2 : propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

    Since when do “packages” generally consist of numbered separate independent definitions ?

    So its either “housecoats” or “bikinis” for female dressing. Right, of course, females wear bikinis to their cubicles all the time. Casual summers ?

    As for birthing babies- so we are supposed to thank Gd that he made us “according to his will” which includes the terrifying birthing babies fun ?

    So your recommending “silence” instead of questions. Would that be TID or QID.
    OTC remedies will only work temporarily though.

  19. jaded

    the american heritage dictionary gives the following definition(s) of modesty:

    The state or quality of being modest.
    Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.
    Lack of pretentiousness; simplicity.

    Why did you only focus on the first ‘element’ of the definition – as it’s clear even from the dictionary (which last time i checked wasn’t written by any women-hating orthodox man)

    that is comes as a package.

    if someone is wearing short shorts and a bikini top walking down the street they are looking to turn heads and get attention.

    and they do.

    when is the last time you saw a women in a housecoat trying to sell you a car / house / holiday / whatever?

    re: your other points, i can only comment (in any meaningful way) on the first one. the prayer that men say thanking Hashem that they weren’t women made SO MUCH sense to me after i gave birth.

    even in our modern times, it can still be a terrifying experience – and the risk of dying in labour is so much smaller than it used to be.


    dialogue is useful if it promotes something constructive, or if it’s a meaningful exchange of ideas. when it does neither of these things, silence is preferable – and also much healthier.

  20. by “feminists” i mean more the modern feminist stereotype, not anyone who thinks women deserve equal pay for equal work and all that fun stuff.

  21. Katrin,

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey on this issue. Congratulation on launching the site. I can tell from the items you have up that you have great style. There is a real difference between your inventory and the stuff I’ve seen on other sites for modest clothing. I would totally be buying that long denim skirt if I weren’t pregnant. Maybe in a few months.

    I agree with Fern’s feedback, and I would add that the product descriptions could be fixed up a bit. I would look to, etc for guidance.

    Good luck!

  22. #39 Jaded
    I simply can’t believe that there are women walking around happily in bikinis who are purely focused on their inner growth. And I’m saying this as someone who was one of those women in a bikini. Think about it this way, how many truly ugly/ overweight people dress in say, miniskirts and tank tops (OK, there are a few, but really not many). The people who dress that way are people who are attractive, know they’re attractive, and want to attract. Maybe there are 10% who just haven’t noticed the reaction of all the other people on the beach, but as Jews we have to take that into account as well.

    Guys have modest clothing issues too. I’ve never seen a religious guy walking around with his shirt off, for example, or in shorts above the knee. Guys have their own “uniform” that’s actually about as restrictive as the women’s (they get short sleeves, but they also have tzitzit).

    I think that if men and women’s roles in Judaism were exactly reversed, feminists would still find plenty to complain about. I can just imagine it “the Torah says we can’t control our thoughts when we see a man, but he’s all pure and spiritual? He’s trusted to keep the laws of mikvah and kosher without other witnesses, but we have to do our mitzvot where everyone can see us? The rabbis said that men are naturally on a higher spiritual level? Pure male chauvanism, no way around it.”

  23. Katrin,
    I’m defining modesty just like merriam webster does under definition 1) : “freedom from conceit or vanity”

    While were in defining mode how would you (rhetorically speaking) collectively define these random directives and suggestions.

    “Eishes Ish”
    That adorable prayer men say every morning with the sunrise “Thank you gd for not creating me a women” if thats not a comforting prayer for women to hear, i’m not sure what is.
    “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife”(what about coveting thy neighbors husbands, are husbands always covetable ànd their wives barely touchable for two weeks every month?)
    Do not converse excessively with women.
    Juicy jewish divorce laws.
    Kol isha issues.
    Lack of Jewish female leaders.
    Partitions for praying.
    The must dip in mikva directives.
    Is any of this screaming male chauvinism in polite roundabout halachic english or am I just spiritually tone deaf.
    Or should I distract myself and concentrate on learning that endless list of laws ànd requirements for Jewish wives.
    And your wondering why I’m second guessing your modest material clothing for spiritual feminine living pitch? It goes a little deeper than sparkly snoody snoods /glitter funky kerchiefs /wiggy wigs ànd falling in love with feminine skirts all over again for life. Its the underlying Y.

    I’ve spent a large percentage of my life ,glittering up the confusing/contradicting parts I didn’t understand that deeply. And managed to be hyper happy just decorating the dark parts with colorful sparkly christmas lights. Eventually the glitter ànd sparkle dust settles and the christmas lights go dark… and one is left with the hardcore elements of truth that require some long term reckoning minutes. Decorating material mandatory modesty must do’s with sparkle ànd glitter will not fix the fun facts of why there is a halachic demanding of material modesty.

    And I’m not liking nor understanding those underlying reasons very much at all. Which is why I will never try to make material modesty sound feminine, spiritual,sparkly And MANDATORY for character refining cuz its not.

  24. Katrin,
    Of course I know people that don’t dress modestly but are quite refined ànd modest in actions. That’s why I don’t understand the need for modest dress.
    The hardcore reasoning behind all this hiding behind the material is so that men should not start yearning for sin ànd ór if the woman is married so that she knows she’s married. Ànd other eishas ish related ideologies. I think there are way too many laws makin sure the woman understands she’s for her husband only. Do men have any of these extra heat exhaustion oriented ànd cover cover cover precaution measures must do’s so they know they belong to théir wife.Or is it only the wife belonging to the husband that’s of concern to all.

  25. There multitudes of factors whether experiential, environmental etc that can affect a person’s psychology and disposition.

    It seems disingenuous and lacking of intellectual honesty to say that attire never and under no cirucumstances plays a role.

  26. To Bob and Sharon (are you two choson and kallah?),

    Bob, no I never contacted NIKE. I just presume the market is way too small for them to even consider it. However, if I could pitch a snood/burqua line to capture both the Yiddin and the Muslims, then I might be on to something. ;-D

    Sharon, I’m glad you like the idea. I proposed it once before on BT and got a mixed reaction. ;-D

    In all seriousness, the question of the poster who thought she had to give up horseback riding to become BT because the clothing didn’t fit the rules of tsnius, and me, presuming I’d had to give up tennis for the same reason, makes me think there certainly is an under-served market out there for tsnius workout and sports gear.

    I have to think about this…


  27. Shavua Tov all,

    Jacob — you reminded me of a little incident that happened to me. I’ve always had a habit of dressing “modestly” for work, although I didn’t realize it.

    Back when my job kept me more in contact with the public, I’d wear neat long simple, dark skirts to mid-calf, and tailored-style blouses — short sleeved, but down to around or just below the elbow; usually a button-style shirt, top button open but never immodestly.

    Anyway, I used to visit a photo shop to get our pix for work developed BD (before digital), run by my friend from Israel, Adina.

    It happened that day that her mom and sister were visiting from EY, and she introduced us, but they didn’t speak English. Anyway, I went off on my merry way. The next day, when I saw Adina, she said her mother asked if I was religious, because of how I had been dressed.

    I was stymied. Huh? Religious, me? That’s what I look like? At first I thought, yuck, that’s not very good out there in the world of competitive dating. And then I took measure of myself and realized, that’s pretty well how I’d been all of my adult years. I don’t like the flashy world out there, and I’ve always had a distate for the way women display their bodies.

    Making the jump to “tsnius dressing” was actually pretty easy for me. When I took stock of my warddrobe, much of what I gave away had to do with bright coloured things versus overtly revealing clothing.


  28. fern

    thanks so much for the feedback – just what i was looking for.

    i’m getting some quotes now to redo the site, and if i send in a lot posts to Beyond BT, maybe mark and david will let me post another small ‘plug’ once that’s done.

    jennifer – i’ve had similar chats with friends – and it seems to be something that can especially ‘hit’ after kids, especially if people are still struggling with post-baby weight issues too.

    western society is so full of ‘look good this way’ messages, that it’s very hard to go against that grain and find a way of still looking attractive (to or for ourselves) whilst being modest.

    when i started covering my hair, i also felt like i’d somehow aged a bit – hair is a very big deal in modern society.

    a few things helped me: i don’t cover in my house (and as i work from home, that’s a real help); and my husband went out of his way to give compliments.

    as he says, his opinion (and mine…) are really the only ones that count.

    but it’s not easy.

    jaded: i’m not really sure what your argument is, to be honest. Of course what you wear affects how you act and how people percieve you.

    it doesn’t mean that everyone dressed modestly will act modestly. the clothing is only a start (but a very good one).

    conversely, are you arguing that someone can be dressed in cut off jeans and a bikini top, and still be acting modestly?

    i’ve never met someone like that. honestly, can you say that you have?

  29. There is a website that sells hats, snoods, and scarves for women who have lost their hair because of chemo or alopecia. It is called I have several of their hats and scarves and they are all cut deep to cover the whole head. Their prices are reasonable as well. For me it was VERY hard to begin to cover my hair because, well, my hair (imo) was the best part of my appearance. I never even wore ponytails so my face would not be noticeable. My hair is long, straight, and brown. When I put on hats and scarves in the beginning I really wanted to cry and felt so ugly, no matter how nice my lipstick looked. Now I guess I am used to it, but if I pass a window or mirror I NEVER look at my reflection. The model on is adorable and looks cute no matter what. Not so for me.

  30. Jacob Haller ,
    Of course you pick the one sentence that has word usage errors for your noting.
    Firstly, please note its “should never” not “shouldn’t never”.
    My lunchtime blackberrying slot doesn’t allow for perfect sentence structuring.

    Anyway regarding my two Jacob Haller noting worthy statements , are you suggesting that should I attempt to function as the epitome of humble ism with the purest sense of figuretive modesty in a sequined tank and jeans , my humble modest life achieving would be at best mediocre ànd ór fluttering with flaws ànd failure in flutterlike fashion.

    I’m not so sure that you need the modest clothing to work on inner modesty deficiencies ànd other fun life objectives.
    As a matter of fact I’m sure you don’t need the modest dress to act modest. At least some don’t. Not saying its universally applicable given …..

    Does one need a modesty panel on a desk in order to keep the discipline in a cubicle. How about those bare corner freestanding workstations. Are they destined to mediocre undisciplined lives cuz they have no modesty panels. Maybe they are inherently disciplined so they don’t need extra material as external check systems. Maybe they are that good or well learned ànd insulated internally. Maybe they just learn differently ànd the modesty panel would just be cumbersome ànd wouldn’t fit properly on their freestanding everywhere less established space. And they move around to different çubicles often and prefer fuss free hassle free set up. Modesty panels would just get in their way.

  31. It looks like you have some really, really cute things on your website. I absolutely love the Handkerchief Skirt, Petal Skirt and Envelope Skirt.

    My only suggestion would be to try and make your website reflect your company’s style. I know it is difficult to do a website on a budget, but you might be able to find a web design or graphic design student who will do it for free if you allow them to put the website in their portfolio (or you allow them to place a link on your website to their website). American and British consumers (I see you have things priced in dollars and pounds, so I am assuming we’re your target consumer) expect a website to look professionally done.

  32. Jaded made two comments worth noting

    “Dress is not a guarantee of anything ànd shouldnt never be understood as such”

    “Katrin, my point was clothes don’t decide what üre goin to become ór act like generally speaking.”

    The first part taken by itself is reasonable. Nothing is ‘guaranteed’ for success. However, and working with the second point, there are cases that when an essential ingredient is missing then mediocrity if not outright failure is guaranteed.

    Speaking of ingredients, the topic of this thread reminds me of an unlikely ingredient that fueled my becoming BT.

    About 20 years ago there was a quirky and amusing period-piece movie called “5 Corners” set in 1964 NYC. One of the main characters, played by Jodie Foster, was dressed in a cardigan and long skirt as her everyday attire. Another protagonist character Tim Robbins usually went about in a suit and tie.

    The next morning, back to the real world, observing the multitudes on my college campus, I started to think that the 1964-era clothing was so much more respectful and tasteful for both the men and women, then what I was witnessing in 1988.

    I think this stayed with me for awhile and I was likely happy to find Flatbush and Monsey residents decked out in what I considered more tasteful attire.

    Is tsnius done merely for taste? No, it’s our Derech Chaim but I was very grateful to find out that my personal tastes coincided with a significant example of halacha.

    Just can’t bring myself to agree on a purely rational basis that clothing and inner modesty are completely irrelevant partners.

  33. Leah,who says no one likes your idea about the snoods? I do. In any case, Nike has its “swoosh” on so many other things, why not snoods?

    As for riding on a log flume ride. Either bring an extra headcovering or wear a rain hat.
    Also do not, I repeat, do not listen if someone
    says to sit in a particular spot because you won’t get wet. Trust me, you will get wet. Very,very wet. Also learn where the rest roomws are so you can change your headcovering if you need to. Also, bring a plastic bag to put your wet headcovering in. I speak from experience.

  34. Katrin –

    Just in case it comes up again –

    I think I’d have taken the sparkly jeans and made a skirt out of them. There are lots of instructions around for this type of thing. You open up the inner leg seams, and put a triangle gore of fabric of some sort into it – could be denim or something else – I prefer denim even if it doesn’t match the denim of the original jeans, because it maintains the denim feel of the skirt, and doesn’t look like 60’s patchwork.

    Just a thought.

  35. Dag,

    I have to agree. Think of bum raises and leg lifts, not to mention aerobic dance,3 etc. ;-D

    I was part of an all women’s fitness club for a while, and there were a number of frum women there. It’s nice to be able to work out without having to worry about what’s showing.

    As far as working out with equipment, there are some inherent hazards when you wear loose baggy clothing to cover up, like getting caught in the mechanisms.

    I wore gigantic t-shirts and leggings for my workouts. I’d wear my signature baseball cap. Then I’d pop a skirt on afterwards and shower at home.

    Lots of women I saw wore snoods — hence my wonderful idea of marketing a NIKE-brand snood for frum women’s workout gear.

    Nobody likes the idea tho. ;-D


  36. I am sorry. I’ll never understand how women working out in front of men is EVER Tznius, regardless of what she is wearing

  37. Leah,
    Most women don’t cut their hair, but some have had to because they get headaches. I never did, but my hair is thin. The other problem with long, thick hair is pinning it up in a way that doesn’t produce unsightly bumps. Most women find a way to do so. It’s also possible that distributing it more evenly would prevent the headaches or maybe that is no longer a problem with the newer custom sheitels. My sister has thick hair and cut it shorter because she got headaches. But this was quite a few years ago and she never wore expensive custom wigs.

  38. Our daughter also wore pants and shorts when she was younger (I think until 2nd grade). And I also remember a friend of hers telling us how her mom said one can be tznius and still be fashionable. Our Rav basically holds that till a girl is BM, it’s OK to follow the accepted dress code of her school/community (this was in regard to a question about sleeve length).

    I think a lot of girls and women wear sweats under their skirts for biking. And avoid standing by the wall(s) in glass-walled elevators!

  39. IIRC, there is a fascinating book whose title escapes me but which was published by Urim that profiles and relates the experiences of many women on this mitzvah. I highly recommend reading it.If someone could provide a link with the title, I think that it would be beneficial to all reading and posting here and elsewhere.

  40. charnie

    i have friends who are encouraging their kids to wear trousers ‘while they can’ (ie, while they are still little) – and i suspect they are going to have similar problems to the one you describe.

    i don’t wear trousers because i’m not meant to – and my girls don’t wear trousers for the same reason.

    a family member bought my daughter a pair of sparkly jeans a little while ago, which she loved. i was very conflicted about what to do about it – i didn’t want to make a big deal, but at the same time, i was worried about it being the thin end of the wedge.

    in the end, my husband and i decided to take her shopping for a few more skirts, and to make more effort to say how beautifully dressed she was when she wore them.

    i also explained to her about the importance of tznius, but underlined that it was her choice to make.

    it took about 2 months, but she decided to give the jeans away. she’s six…

    kids are smart

  41. In #10 you wrote:

    “I guess my girls won’t have the same association, as they don’t wear jeans – or at least at the moment”

    That’s a very significant point. For example, I have a friend who hasn’t emphasized tznius with her daughter. This girl is now past Bat Mitzvah and still wearing tight jeans and sleeveless tops. It actually became problematic because there are only 2 schools in their community, a MO and a Chabad girl’s school. So, the girl couldn’t go to the latter because she didn’t want to give up her jeans, and she didn’t do well in the MO. So she’s in public school, all because of her allegiance to her jeans.

  42. Ruth, thanks for your post. That’s encouraging. Would I have to cut off my natural hair? As I said, it’s quite wavy and thick. I tie it back and wrap it up under my hats.

    Jaded, that’s a great point. Clothes shouldn’t make the man, err, woman, or be the entire sum of whether one is modest or not. Behaviour is much more an indication, I would guess. Unless we’re talking about REAAAAAAAAALLLY pushing the line with low cut blouses and stuff like that.


  43. Some custom-made sheitels are very airy and comfortable. You can hardly feel them. But they can be quite expensive. It’s also possible to get a sheitel that is comfortable (although not quite to the standards of the highest-priced ones) and much less expensive.

  44. Katrin, my point was clothes don’t decide what üre goin to become ór act like generally speaking. I understood one of your points to be that if you dress modest you act modest.That’s where my suits for CEO ànd frump for modesty came in. Dress is not a guarantee of anything ànd shouldnt never be understood as such. If I dress frumpy will that make mé more modest ànd humble if I had issues in those areas ?if I wear suits will I be prompted to CEO ór CFO how about if I wear the pink blush pearl necklace too vice president maybe ?

  45. tznius is a very personal thing, isn’t it.

    i have odd, increasingly rare, moments when i still miss my jeans – not because they suited me particularly well, but i think because i associate them with ‘being younger’ – i lived in them at uni and as a teenager.

    i guess my girls won’t have the same association, as they don’t wear jeans – or at least at the moment.

    chani – thank G-d, i think things like tznius come so much more naturally to our daughters. it can be a pretty hard ‘talent’ to acquire later in life, or at least, that’s how i’ve found it.

    re: headcovering – i still can’t do all my hair – i look in the mirror and i just can’t get used to how i look.

    but it’s a slow process, and i’m not in any rush.

    jaded – show me one female CEO wearing a snood and i’ll take your point about clothes not making that much difference

  46. You know what the difference is between our FFB daughters and ourselves? They can stand on their heads and still hold their skirts in a tznius manner, sort of tucked between their legs. They can also do monkey bars in the playground the same way. I think it’s a talent they’re born with.

    Then again, I never really could stand on my head anyway.

  47. *sigh*

    Re my post #5, I meant to say because I DON’T imagine they are all that comfortable to wear.

    So, are they or not? Is there any practical advice for making sheitels easier and more comfortable to wear, or maybe I’m worrying for nothing.


  48. Here’s my favourite true head covering story:

    My hubby and I had a very simple wedding and didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy outfits or a splashy event. I had a nice cream coloured suit for my outfit.

    I needed a veil and was going to borrow one from Hachnasos Kallah, but they never got back to me, so there I was, just a day or so before the chasuneh, with no veil.

    It just so happens that a friend mine had called me for help a year so before to get into her computer program that had listed all of the information, table assignments, etc., for her daughter’s wedding. Without that info, the wedding was in big big trouble.

    No problem. As the resident computer geek, I was able to help Adella get into her program, and saved the day and her daughter’s wedding! :-D

    Back to my wedding story. It just so happened that I mentioned my wedding veil travail to Adella, and right away she offered to lend me her other daughter’s veil for the chasuneh.

    Phew, saved! A favour given is a favour returned!

    And wouldn’t you just know, the veil happened to be cream-coloured — the exact right shade for my suit.

    Doncha love stories of hashgacha pratis like that?


  49. Shalom Katrin,

    I totally relate to this issue. I can’t stand head coverings at the best of times so it was a big leap for me.

    I will keep my nicer hats for special occasions and wearing to Shul, but for day-to-day use like going shopping or to work, I wear my NIKE baseball cap because it is cool and comfortable and keeps my hair tucked in.

    I also tend to overheat like an engine!

    Fortunately, I used to love wearing a NIKE baseball cap in my tennis days to protect from the sun, so it was a fairly easy transition to wearing it indoors at work. Also, I had prepped my work colleagues to know that I had to cover my hair, so they got used to it pretty quickly too.

    At home, it’s my most comfortable snoods and I have special Shabbos snoods that have a little sparkle to them.

    My hair is too thick and wavy to even attempt the new hot scarves they wear. I tend to look, well umm, Muslim. ;-D

    I rarely wear a snood on the street because I feel odd and don’t want to advertise (being in a mixed neighborhood). If I can wear a hooded garment over it, I will wear a snood if we are out late at a Yom Tov meal or something.

    I haven’t quite made the leap to sheitels, and frankly, I can only see myself wearing sheitels to special occasions like simchas, because I imagine they are all that comfortable to wear. But I don’t know.

    I have a ready excuse though. My Rebbetzin, who I love and respect enormously, is from a family of gedolim, and the custom for their women is hats. I’ve never seen her in a sheitel myself.

    So for now, I’m following the custom of my Rebbetzin. :-)


  50. The point about feeling comfortable about any type of hair covering in Israel is well taken. Your post spoke often about the discomfort created by your perception of what those around you were thinking. B”H, I have been able to conform to the dress codes around me in the places I’ve lived, with one exception: I can’t get used to the idea of sheitels. Fortunately there is enough leeway so that I don’t feel like a freak show with my snoods.

    Rabbi Falk (Oz v’Hadar Levusha) stresses that we have to conform to the standards of the community we live in, as long as halacha is not breached. Sometimes tough to do, when one lives in a larger community with so many authorities.
    That being said, I can think of 2 examples relating to bike riding and skirts. When I lived on a large orthodox kibbutz in Israel, bicycles were the main mode of transportation around the kibbutz for men, women & children. Most of the women wore long skirts, and biking wasn’t a tznius issue there.

    In my current community, as I was buying a bike for my young daughter, I asked my Rav up until what age is it OK for girls to ride bikes? His answer was “twelve”.

  51. Just çuz “modest is as modest does ” this catchy modesty pitch does not connotate that if modesty isn’t than whoRedom is right around the corner waiting to suck you in. Some individuals don’t present well in skirts. Some love both. Some are moody ànd switch back ànd forth depending on the weather. Why the need to limit to one mode of dress to be worn religiously like a grade school uniform.
    Àlso the whole concept of modesty is end user specific. Not every female is a recognition addict, some just feel better in sequined tanks ànd Abercrombie jeans.
    Some feel best in flowing skirts. Some feel best in suits ànd blush pink pearl necklaces. I don’t think that you are as in become what you dress. Do all suit lovers become smart CEOs of major corporations. Do all sequined tank ànd tight jean females sign themselves up immediately for how to seek attention ànd get it too seminars. Do all frumpy females act modest ? Its more of an intellectual ànd emotional process this whole modest humble thing. Its not what you dress in literally.

    As for wiggy wigs …… That’s a whole other issue I won’t even touch for fear of ruining this thread.

  52. Nice post Katrin,

    I remember my wife looking everywhere for a skirt to work out in. She finally bought one at a dance studio! Covering the hair was even harder but she did that too! You are both very inspiring.

  53. Wearing a skirt doesn’t mean you have to give up biking. It all depends on the skirt; you need something that isn’t too flowy, but is long, and still allows movement. But once you figure out which skirts in your wardrobe are “bikeable” (I found this out by trial and error, but there’s probably an easier way to do it) then you’re fine. I was able to bike all around Philadelphia during my junior year of college in skirts with no problems.

    And the clothes in your online store are really pretty.

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