Anatomy of an Outfit- Yom HaZikaron and Memorial Day

On Memorial Days, whether it’s the American or the Israeli, we’re supposed to honor those who died in service of their country. 

When a national/patriotic holiday comes, many people like to honor the day by wearing colors that represent the significance of the day. I’m no exception on that one. The good news is that there are wonderful ways to do that without appearing too cliche. 

Yom HaZikaron- Israel’s Memorial Day- came out on April 28th.

Base- dark shell and skirt. Because they’re both dark, they give me a long line that emphasizes my height. Since they’re both neutral, I can add any colors I want as accents. 

Overtop- olive green, ¾ sleeves, deep V-neck. Olive green is not only my best green (it’s in my irises), but it’s the color of army uniforms so it’s one way for me to honor the day. The fit, shape, sleeves, and neckline all suit my top half so that I appear shapely. 

Wrap- Olive green print. This is actually a mix of prints in shades of olive green and brown. Not only does the olive green work, but the print adds a nice bit of interest. 

Earrings- I named these earrings For Our Kedoshim because they were inspired by people coming together for the sake of the martyrs and the survivors. I love the way the different colors and textures come together to make something great. The peach and pink are a perfect contrast to the green. 

Memorial Day in the US came out on May 25th and my outfit was similar but not identical.

Skirt- Dark denim, mermaid shape. Denim is considered all-American even though it’s worn outside of the US. The shape of this skirt makes my bottom half appear more curvy and feminine than it actually is. It looks restrictive but it moves very well and is very comfortable. 

Top- dark olive green, fitted. Again, olive green works as a tribute to the martyrs and it works for my coloring. It’s dark so it blends with the dark denim and gives me that long line. 

Wrap- Autumn colors. The print is actually more artsy (the scarf is called Picasso’s Masterpiece) but the colors remind me of camouflage colors except in brighter form. 

Necklace- Peach-pink For Our Kedoshim. I like to wear necklaces when I’m wearing only one top. They give me a layered and polished look in warmer weather without the unneeded warmth of actual layers. And again, the peach and pink contrast nicely with the green.

Dear readers, how do you like to honor the patriotic days?

Is Style Relevant in a Crisis? YES!

“Is fashion important? Well, my dear, you have to get dressed.”- Carrie Donovan

Recently, there was a man who told me that people aren’t going out and therefore style and my tips are not relevant. As you can imagine, that didn’t ring true with me. If people aren’t going out, then who are all those people waiting in line to get into stores? And who are all those people waiting in the checkout line in front of me at my local grocery stores? And who are all those people I see on the streets just going for a walk or taking their children out to play?

But the real question is whether or not style is relevant.

I decided to try something. I borrowed a hoodie and pajama pants from my husband, pulled an old skirt over the pants, put on socks and sneakers, and went out on two errands in that getup. Even at home, everyone thought I looked ridiculous. My husband, who normally can’t offer an opinion on what I wear, actually did a double take. Then he went back to his usual sweet-talking self. My kids were a little more honest about how strange I looked.

(Just FYI, I did do my regular daily hygiene and I made sure my unmentionables were in place. Even for the sake of making an important point, there are some lines I won’t cross.)

I went out twice to a total of three stores. No one really paid attention. No surprise there. Even under normal circumstances, grocery stores and other stores are not usually social places. People don’t go to these places to see, be seen, and meet other people. They go to get what they need. If they do run into people they know, they might socialize for a few minutes but that’s it. Now, if people run into other people they know, they stop only long enough to say hello if they stop at all. Normally, even I don’t pay close attention to what people are wearing unless I plan to use something for my writing. One thing I did notice was that no one recognized me. No surprise there either- I wasn’t wearing any of my trademark items. One of the stores has an employee (I don’t know her exact job) who usually greets me with a smile and hello even now. This time, she just went about her job (politely- there was no lack of manners) without recognizing me.

But I did notice something else. I was the only one in all of these stores to be dressed this way. If this had been more of a social scene, I would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone else was wearing some form of real clothes. Some were dressed more casually than others but while there were a few tiny faux pas here and there, there were no glaring mistakes. I saw a few women wearing hoodies but they balanced them with fitted bottoms. Many of the women were wearing clothes that would’ve looked fine at work, complete with shaytls (and nice ones at that).

The second thing I noticed was about me. Even at home, I wasn’t feeling right in those pajama items. At one point, I was waddling around instead of my usual gait. I don’t usually waddle unless I’m feeling sick. Were those pajama pieces comfortable? Well, they gave me plenty of room to move and I didn’t feel constricted. But I rarely feel constricted in my real clothes anyway. Those pajamas only made me feel heavy and tired. I was able to walk to and from the stores with my usual brisk pace but it took a lot more effort.

As soon as I got home from my final errand, I changed into real clothes. Just a denim skirt, plain top, pretty wrap, and earrings. I wasn’t any less physically comfortable- I had plenty of room to move- but I felt so much better. And I went out again for some fresh air but I needed less effort to maintain my brisk pace.

It’s true that a lot of people appreciate not having to get dressed if they’re just staying home. I get the need for comfort especially at home. But who says that style means sacrificing comfort? In fact, one of the signs of a poor fit is discomfort. If an item of clothing is bothering you then it’s likely not good for you, either because of the fit or something else. I myself will not wear anything that doesn’t feel comfortable even when I’m dressed up fancy.

So is style relevant during a crisis? There are a lot of people who think it is. Groups such as “Look Good, Feel Better” aren’t around for nothing. Whether it’s a personal crisis such as illness or a larger crisis like this pandemic, style can be a very healthy way to take some control.

While I won’t sacrifice comfort, I do find that real clothing and style are a coping mechanism for me. This time is a stressful time. Anything I can do that make me feel better can help. Putting on real clothes reminds me that I’m still a dignified human being. And getting creative with my wardrobe and finding “new” outfits that work is just plain fun.

Is style relevant? I think it is. So do all the people who take that extra few minutes to put on real clothes before they go out on errands. So do all the people who take the extra few minutes to put on real clothes even just to stay home. Looking good can help anyone feel better. So I’m taking full advantage.

 

 

May Hashem grant a Refuah Shleimah to those who are sick, continued good health to the rest of us, Parnassah to all, and may He bring us all Home very soon.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Erev Shabbat Post-Pesach

This year, the last day of Pesach fell on Thursday and that meant that I had Friday to prepare for Shabbat. Of course I had the help I needed- I have a wonderful husband and great kids. But after all the work to make Pesach and then to turn everything back, I needed an energy boost. What better way to do that than with a great outfit? 

Anatomy Erev Shabbat post Pesach- full length

Skirt- Dark denim, mermaid shape. I have a straight figure and the mermaid shape gives me a more curvy look. This may appear restrictive, but since the fit is very good and the denim has some stretch to it, I have all the movement I need. 

Top- Chocolate brown, surplice, ¾ sleeves. This brown is a great neutral on me. It flatters me and goes with everything. It’s also dark enough in value to give me one long line with the dark denim skirt. That long line is very elegant and polished even for a casual outfit. The mock-wrap style keeps my neck open and gives me a waist. 

Shell- Bright green t-shirt. In warmer months, I wear this t-shirt by itself. That particular day was cold so I wore it as a shell. The bright green is energizing and the jewel neck raises my neckline for tzniut without taking away my neck completely. 

Wrap- Double knot turban. I find that this print scarf works very well with all my denim pieces. It’s a Bohemian-style print and I love that. And the colors are all autumn-y and flatter my face. I layered it with a dark brown scarf so that the print is more of an accent. The two light-weight scarves layered together keep my head warmer on a colder day. 

Earrings- Nothing jazzes up an outfit better than a great piece of jewelry. Earrings play up my face and smile but they also stay out of my way when I’m cooking or doing chores. These peach and pink “For Our Kedoshim” earrings contrast nicely with the green top. They don’t show up in the scarves so they stand out against the wrap. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to wear a great outfit that gives you an energy boost when you need it. 

Anatomy of an Outfit- 8th Day Pesach/Passover

For some women, the base outfit chooses the accessories. For others, the accessories choose the base outfit. For me, it’s a toss-up. Sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s the other. During Pesach, my rainbow sari scarves were calling out to me, so on Shmini Shel Pesach, I let this one choose the outfit. 

Anatomy 8th day Pesach full length

Skirt- Black, straight, long. My mom referred to this fabric as “moleskin.” It comes off like suede. 

Shell- basic black, sleeveless, snug fit. A snug fit is perfect for shells and undertops because it allows for layering without bulk. The fabric finish is smooth and also works well. 

Cardigan- Black, fitted, knit with lace trim and ¾ sleeves. I always button only the top few buttons so that I get a V at the top and on the bottom which adds to the waist definition. 

All three base items are black which gives me a long monochromatic line. A monochromatic line from top to bottom always looks elegant and put-together. It also makes every woman appear healthy, as if she takes good care of herself. Black is easiest but this works in every color. While the color is the same, the fabrics and textures are different and that adds some interest. 

Wrap- I used a 2-in-1 as a base plus a sari scarf, both by Wrapunzel. As I said before, this sari scarf had chosen the outfit. Some women can wear head-to-toe neutrals and look great, but if I do that without a pop of color, I look and feel boring at best, depressed at worst. A nice big pop of color flatters me much more. I used the 2-in-1 to ensure full coverage while I did the sari in a full sari turban wrap. 

Earrings- the colorful wrap is really the anchor of the outfit so I wanted earrings that would stand out against it without competing with it. These earrings are soft white (which flatters me more than bright white). I made them with mother-of-pearl nuggets and small pearl beads. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to try on different items of the same color and see what you can do with them. Don’t be afraid if they don’t match exactly. And don’t be afraid to try a contrasting element.

Anatomy of an Outfit- 7th Day Pesach 5780

I put this outfit together for the 7th day of Pesach and I liked it so much that I wanted to photograph it for this series but I couldn’t do that on Yom Tov, so I recreated the outfit for the first Shabbat after Pesach and I photographed it on Motzaei Shabbat. Here’s how it works.

Skirt: Straight, light gray. Gray is an elegant neutral but I rarely wear it because most grays don’t flatter me. A skirt is fine because the gray is away from my face. 

Shell: Off-white is another classic neutral but it flatters me more than plain white. It’s light in value, like the light gray skirt, so it gives me that long line.

Top: Light leopard print with peach, ruched on the cuffs and hem. Leopard print is my favorite animal print. This version is lighter than the natural version so it’s not as high-drama but it’s still fun. The ruching on the bottom combines with the fitted shape to flatter my torso. 

Wrap: I chose peach as a base to pick up on the peach in the printed top. Then I added a textured oblong as a sash. The oblong is off-white with slubs of peach, pink, lavender, and yellow. It actually coordinates a bit with the top and shell (off-white and peach). The texture adds a bit of interest without competing with the print of the top. 

Asymmetrical green earrings

Earrings: Green contrasts nicely with peach/pink and adds a great pop to this outfit. I love the asymmetrical shape. 

Dear readers, if you find an outfit that you love, keep a record of it and wear it again. Great outfits will always work.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Erev Pesach, 2nd Days 5780

How could I do this series without making sure that my favorite color gets a starring role? 

Green has been my favorite color since I was little. While I love other colors, I love wearing green the most. I don’t look my best in every version of green but I stick with the versions that do work. And on Erev Yom Tov, I needed the energy boost for a cooking marathon. 

Dress- I love dresses but I have a hard time finding dresses that work for me. I found this one online and I love it. It’s a dark, warm green which flatters me. I would’ve preferred a slightly more open neckline, but this crewneck is fine. The ¾ sleeves are not only universally flattering but they stay out of the way so that I can cook or do chores. The shape is A-line with princess seams and that works on just about everyone. It makes me feel very feminine. 

Wrap- This Watercolor Dreams scarf is a longtime favorite of mine. It’s mostly green with some teal, brown, and orange mixed in. The 1920’s style turban wrap is a favorite wrap style for me. 

spring brights set

Earrings- If I were wearing this dress to work or to an event, I would wear a necklace with it and it looks terrific. But necklaces get in the way when I’m cooking or doing chores so earrings are a better way to go. I went with my Spring Brights earrings and bracelet. The mother-of-pearl nugget beads add lots of texture and I love the mix of colors, which includes green.

This outfit gave me energy for my Yom Tov preparations and it made me feel like a queen once Yom Tov started. 

Dear readers, if you have a favorite color, find versions of it that flatter you and work with that. 

Anatomy of an Outfit- Two Fancy Weddings

I know that with the virus still out there we won’t likely be guests at big crowded special events for a while but sooner or later, please G-d, we will be back to that. That means having ideas and options for what to wear. 

I wore this exact outfit for two different weddings. I first put it together for my cousin’s wedding in December of 2015. That wedding was full-on black-tie with the women in evening gowns and the men in tuxedos. Then I wore it again for a Chassidic wedding in Brooklyn this past November. I got nothing but compliments on how great I looked. 

Yes, this is an outside-the-box outfit and not every woman is comfortable with that. I will never tell anyone to wear an outfit that doesn’t make the wearer look and feel wonderful. But all women need to know that there are good options out there. So here goes…

Skirt- black, velvet, straight, to the floor. Velvet is an inherently dressy fabric and it makes this outfit formal. The black color and the long length allow it to come off even more dressy. 

Shell- fitted black t-shirt. It was cold out both times so I wanted a full-on shirt instead of a sleeveless shell but the latter would work just as well. The black color blends with the skirt and gives me a long monochromatic line that makes every woman appear healthier, elegant, and put-together.

Cardigan- Rich teal, fitted. There are those who feel that a cardigan is too casual but that’s exactly why this works- it makes the outfit appear more like a fun mix as opposed to a perfectly matchy-matchy look. This cardigan itself works because of its rich color, good fit, and smooth texture. A chunky cardigan really is too casual and wouldn’t work here. Plus, it’s unembellished and that leaves room for fabulous jewelry. 

Wrap- Turban wrap with angled twist. The rich colors plus the shimmery accent combine to make a very dressy look.

Anatomy- Teal with green earrings

Earrings- I had made these specifically for this outfit. Green is my favorite color and these crystals and shell drops add shine and sparkle. They’re not blue or black so they stand out against the base outfit. 

Dear readers, it’s always a good idea to think a little outside-the-box even for special events. Try it ahead of time. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, at least you tried. But don’t ever assume that something is off-limits just because it’s outside-the-box.