Modesty in Fashion: Dress Reform in Modern Orthodox Judaism

Tomorrow is the symposium held by the students of the Fashion and Textiles Studies program at FIT. Here is another fascinating paper that will be presented, this time by Paula Sim, a contributor to this blog. We hope to see you there. The event is free and open to the public.

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 Modesty in Fashion: Dress Reform in Modern Orthodox Judaism

By Paula M. Sim

Jewish dress codes prohibit women from wearing flashy attire and tight silhouettes in order to discourage the male gaze.The entire torso, shoulders, and upper arms must be covered, with the utmost care given to conceal the collarbone and elbows. Skirts rather than pants are required in order to avoid accentuation of the thighs and must be long enough to hide the knees.For further coverage, tights should be worn at all times. These body parts are considered erotic and must remain covered at all time unless in privacy with her husband. Married women are required to cover their hair following a separate complex system of guidelines. Although men follow their own set of laws concerning dress, it is a display of religion rather than a gesture of modesty. While the Talmud, the written Jewish law, commands modesty in appearance and conduct, these specific restrictions are an unwritten set of standards that are subject to interpretation by all Jews. Modern Orthodox Jews assert positive value to interacting with contemporary society and blend religious values with secular culture. I will examine a few ways in which modernity manifests in Jewish women’s dress.

Two Chabad Lubavitch sisters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn dress-up like their religious friends the Satmar from Williamsburg, also in Brooklyn to make fun of them for the Jewish carnival, the festivity of Purim. April 2013, Brooklyn, New York. Photograph from the book Daughters of The King, by  Federica Valabrega. Published by BurnBooks on November, 2013

Two Chabad Lubavitch sisters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn dress-up like their religious friends the Satmar from Williamsburg, also in Brooklyn to make fun of them for the Jewish carnival, the festivity of Purim. April 2013, Brooklyn, New York. Photograph from the book Daughters of The King, by Federica Valabrega. Published by BurnBooks on November, 2013

 

 

 

 

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