Is Red Tzniut? It Can Be

I recently saw a post on my social media feed about how red is not considered to be a tzniut-appropriate color and how we need to explain this to our girls. I didn’t get a chance to respond there so I’m responding here. 

There are communities that do not consider red to be tzniut-appropriate because it’s very attention-grabbing. I myself do not live in such a community and I don’t hold by that. However, I do believe that red can go right or wrong. 

When the woman wears a version of red that flatters her, it is tzniut-appropriate. Her red makes her appear healthy and active and glowing. There are usually a few different reds that will work well for each woman. I myself look best in warm orange-y reds and dark wine reds. On the other hand, the wrong red is not tzniut-appropriate. If the specific red doesn’t flatter the woman, then it’s not good. It draws too much attention to itself and not to the woman or her personality. Straight-up red is too strong and wears me while cooler reds fight my undertones and emphasize any ruddiness in my face. 

Then there’s the issue of how the red is worn. Head-to-toe red is tricky even if it’s flattering otherwise because it’s very attention-grabbing. However, if it is flattering, it’s certainly doable. Plus, dark reds like maroon and burgundy are secondary neutrals so they’re not as attention-grabbing as brighter reds and they can definitely come off just fine even head-to-toe. 

A much easier way to go is to wear a neutral base and then add red accents. A neutral skirt and top with a red shell or a neutral skirt and shell with red top or a neutral base outfit with a red scarf or red jewelry will all work. Not only is this formula universally appropriate but it’s perfect for women who love red but who aren’t comfortable rocking the proverbial boat.    

What does all this have to do with tzniut? Consider this: “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”- Coco Chanel. When we wear versions of red that flatter us, it reflects more of who we really are as people and that’s the goal of tzniut- to be seen as real people. 

Find YOUR reds and rock them like no one’s business. 

Anatomy of an Outfit- Blue and Yellow Challenge

For my day job, I work in a school and this week was “Spirit Week.” Each day had people wearing something different within a theme. On Thursday, we were expected to wear blue and yellow because those are the school colors. I have two problems with this. First, I don’t particularly like that color combination. It’s a valid combo that can definitely work but it just doesn’t appeal to my aesthetic palette. Second, I don’t have a lot of yellow items at all and the few that I have do not lend themselves well to the kind of light layering appropriate for the warm-ish and rainy weather we were having that day. 

However, I’ve never been one to shy away from a wardrobe challenge so I just went with it and I came up with something I like. 

Skirt- Slim, beige, simple- the perfect anchor.

Overtop- Bright turquoise mock wrap top. Turquoise blues are great on me and the shape flatters my torso.

Shell- Bright yellow green. Green sits between blue and yellow on the color wheel so it’s the perfect color to connect them. And not only is green my favorite color but with the blue and yellow it makes for a color combo that I do like.

Wrap- Most of the time, if I wear a layered wrap, I wear a solid scarf as a base and then add a printed or textured scarf as a sash. But this time I turned that on its head- Bold print scarf as a base with a solid scarf in a sash turban wrap with tail. The print scarf has lots of yellow and green with touches of dark orange and teal blue and the solid scarf is bright blue in keeping with the theme.

Earrings- Yellow, orange, and amber millefiori beads in a cluster drop style. The orange and amber add a great pop of contrast. 

My outfit passed for the blue and yellow theme and the students liked it. I kept to the theme but was still true to myself.

Dear readers, have you had a wardrobe challenge recently? What did you do?   

Loose vs. Fitted

Lately, I’ve been loving my edgy glam looks and my boho glam looks (in case people haven’t noticed). I think that, in terms of flattery, they can work for everyone for one simple reason- a fitted silhouette. 

When clothes are fitted but not skin-tight, they show the general outline of the body and make every woman look healthier. Except for shells, anything skin-tight is not great because it shows every bump and bulge. And even if the woman has no bumps or bulges (and there’s no such woman alive), it’s not tzniut-appropriate. 

What about loose items, like the shirts and cardigans I’m wearing for my glam looks? Loose items do have a place in a woman’s wardrobe and can be very flattering as long as they’re worn with some care. A-line skirts flatter just about every figure as long as they’re fitted at the waist and a little below AND if they’re worn with a closer-fitting (but not skin-tight) top. A looser-fitting blouse looks great with a straight skirt. In these examples, the loose item is balanced with a more fitted item so that the figure isn’t lost. 

I may have a small and straight figure but it’s completely lost here.

Here’s an example of what not to do. I’m wearing a flary A-line skirt here that I love but I’m combining it with a loose button-down. The loose shirt plus the flary A-line leaves an overall larger silhouette that drowns my figure. 

But here are two ways to make the outfit work. On the left, I’ve tucked the shirt into the skirt, thus giving me some badly-needed waist definition. It’s still a little loose but the waist definition means I’m not drowning. On the right, I’ve tied the shirt into a knot. This gives me even more figure definition on top and is even more flattering. 

Here I am wearing a fitted silhouette head-to-toe. This outlines my narrow frame and makes me appear taller and healthier. 

I can hear my readers saying something like “well, YOU can pull it off because you have the figure for it.” If you think that you can’t pull this off, that’s incorrect. EVERY figure- tall or short, small or plus-size, curvy or straight- can look wonderful in a fitted (but not skin-tight) silhouette. And it’s worth a try. But even if a head-to-toe fitted look is too far out of your comfort zone right now, it’s still important to have a fitted element in your base outfit, either on top or bottom, so that your figure doesn’t get lost. 

No woman should be ashamed of her body and no woman should try to hide it. The goal is to make each woman’s individual body look its personal best and trying to hide it would defeat the purpose. Every woman deserves to look her best.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Edgy Glam- Layered Looks

Whenever I find a look that I like, I try to do it in different ways. There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit more than once but if we don’t change things up a bit, we’ll get bored. And sometimes we need to change things for practical reasons such as the weather. This is what I did here. 

It was the dead of winter and I needed extra layers for warmth but I found a few ways to get that edgy glam look that I was loving. Here are two ways…

Skirt- in both of these, I wore a dark straight skirt. This helps keep the inner silhouette sleek and slim so that the open shirt-jacket wouldn’t drown me. 

Shell- in the left, I wore a pumpkin tee which flatters my coloring. In the right, I wore a dark tee to blend with the dark skirt.

Overtop- in the left, I wore a print button-down. The colors are darkish which blend with the skirt but they all flatter my face. In the right, I wore a turquoise/teal pullover top. If it wasn’t so cold outside on both of these days, I could’ve stopped here and I would’ve had complete base outfits both times. 

Shirt-jacket- in both, I wore a dark brown button-down shirt loose and open. This was my “jacket.” It gave the structured, edgy look I wanted. 

Wrap- in the left, I wore three scarves in a triple knot turban, all of which coordinated with the base outfit colors. In the right, I stuck with a brown base plus a teal textured oblong as sash. This too coordinated with the base outfit colors.

Jewelry- in the left, I wore my aqua/olive earrings to contrast with the reds and oranges. In the right, I wore my green and orange “Rita” necklace to contrast with the blues. 

Dear readers, how many versions of a look can you make? 

Anatomy of an Outfit- Outpatient Procedures- When You Look Good, You Feel Good

Outpatient medical procedures, like a root canal, a mammogram, or a vaccination, can be very uncomfortable both during and after. I’ve had each of these and I know about the discomfort. And most people are not worried about what to wear for these things. I don’t blame them one bit. But considering how uncomfortable they make us, I do think that it’s good to maximize comfort otherwise. And when we look good, we feel good. 

No, we do NOT have to get dressed up fancy for these kinds of things. Not only is it a waste of time and effort, but it’s often not comfortable enough to soothe the person’s physical discomfort. But casual =/= sloppy. No one has to sacrifice flattery for the sake of comfort. 

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. As I said above, we do NOT need to get dressed up fancy. The only reason to wear anything formal is if you’re coming straight from a formal workplace with no time to change your clothes. It’s perfectly fine to wear a jeans skirt and a t-shirt or layered tees if the weather calls for that.
  2. Do wear clothes that are clean, neat, fitted, and flattering. Go ahead and wear that jeans skirt but make sure it’s clean, fits you properly, and flatters your bottom half. Go ahead and wear a t-shirt with it but make sure it’s clean and fitted and in a pretty color that flatters your face. 
  3. Avoid structure. Physical comfort does count here. If you normally wear structured jackets, go for a button-down shirt instead. Or wear a softer knit if it’s fitted and works for your top half. This is particularly important if you’re getting a vaccination or blood work- a softer top is less likely to irritate any bruised areas. 
  4. It’s good to add fun and colorful accessories but for most procedures, I recommend earrings because they won’t get in the way. If it’s just a vaccination and/or blood work, then necklaces and/or oblong scarves are fine. A fun and colorful accessory will lift your spirits and that’s always good. 
  5. Wearing makeup is entirely up to you. If you find it too uncomfortable, then don’t bother. But do make sure that you brush your teeth, wash your face, and apply lip balm and sunscreen.

I recently got my first dose of the Covid vaccine. Here’s how I dressed for it…

Skirt- navy, straight, plain cotton. I would’ve worn a jeans skirt but I was coming from my day job. This skirt was still comfortable. 

Top- darkish chocolate brown knit. The boatneck and ¾ sleeves all flatter me along with the rich color but since it’s a knit, it’s soft next to my skin.

Wrap- solid brown scarf layered on top of a brown-with-color rustic print scarf. I do like tails sometimes but I didn’t want tails getting in the way here. All of the colors here flatter my face. 

Necklace- teal mother-of-pearl small nuggets and goldtone chain. This added a nice pop next to the neutral top and skirt. Teal is a fun and dramatic color so it gave me a great boost. Since this was just a vaccination, the necklace didn’t get in the way.

Again, it’s not necessary to dress up fancy for any medical procedure. But when you look good, you feel good, and that makes a big difference.

Anatomy- Inspiration and Edgy-Glam

I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to wear what others might be wearing just because others are wearing it. We are all entitled to wear what works for us and not worry about conforming. However, I do think it’s fine to notice what others are wearing and to be inspired by it. You see someone wearing something that you like and you decide to try it for yourself. Maybe it works well for you in which case you have another item or outfit to add to your arsenal. Maybe it doesn’t work well for you and so you won’t wear it again but at least you tried. 

Three different times, I saw someone wearing a look that I would best describe as “edgy glam.” The first time, I saw it worn by the TV character “Lucy Ricardo” on the classic show I Love Lucy (one of my all-time favorites). The second time, I saw it in a photo online worn by one of my social media friends. The third time was recently and it was worn by someone I know in real life. The third time, it clicked and I not only decided to try the look myself but I also wondered why I hadn’t tried it before. 

The basic look goes like this- slim dark base, colored structured overtop worn open and loose, one bold piece of jewelry. I’ve done it a few times but these are the two basic ideas. The left is an outfit I’ve worn to work. When I showed it off on social media, one friend commented that it looks like something she would wear on Shabbat. So I came up with a Shabbat version shown on the right. 

Here’s how I did it…

Skirt- dark and straight. The work look has a black skirt while the Shabbat look has a navy skirt. 

Shell- dark and fitted. The work look has a black shell while the Shabbat look has a navy shell. 

Overtop- Button-down shirt worn loose and open. The work look has an army green shirt which actually has a softer effect on me. The Shabbat look has a teal blue shirt which is more dramatic and more dressed-up for Shabbat. While these button-downs do fit me well, if I’m going to wear them as open jackets like I am here, it’s important to keep the inner silhouette (in this case, the shell and skirt) straight and narrow. A shirt worn open and loose over a loose silhouette will just drown my figure. 

Wrap- Here is where I added some print. In each of these, I used two solid scarves plus a coordinating print. 

Necklaces- Some kind of bold jewelry is necessary to keep the look powerful and glamorous. In the work look, I used my multi-strand mother-of-pearl nugget necklace. It has green mixed with blue and purple to add interest. In the Shabbat look, I used my white and off-white two strand tassel pendant necklace. It contrasts nicely with the teal and black. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to try items or outfits that inspire you.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Photos

No matter how “camera shy” anyone might be, we’re likely to be photographed at some point. Maybe it’s for a government ID like a drivers license or passport. Maybe it’s for a work ID. Maybe it’s for a promotional item for work. Maybe it’s at a special event. Maybe it’s a day out with your husband and/or your child and you just want a visual memento. My day job has me working in a school and I was recently photographed for staff pictures for the yearbook. No matter what, it pays to know how to look our best in photos. 

Before I show how I did it at work, I’m going to offer a few tips. Remember that professional photographers use backgrounds, lighting, and a lot of gizmos and gadgets to make photos appear as natural as possible. But there will still be distortions and it’s worth it to know how to minimize those and make sure we all look like our best selves. 

Start with color. If a color flatters you in real life, it will flatter you in photos, so pick a flattering color and wear it near your face. I always recommend wearing a dark base and adding colors and prints as accents. Dark colors recede and allow your face to take center stage. Lighter and/or brighter colors visually expand so be careful with those. If they flatter you, it’s fine. 

Prints are best as small accents. They tend to visually move on camera and this might not be flattering. If the print is a small accent on the outfit, like a scarf, then the print itself can be as big and bold as you like. If the print is part of the base outfit, it’s best to go with a more subtle print.  

One of the distortions that the camera often does is to add pounds and make the subject appear larger. There’s nothing wrong with actually being large but the goal is to minimize the camera’s distortions. This means that it’s best to go with slim-fitting clothes. It’s fine to wear a looser-fitting item on top OR on bottom but it’s best paired with something slim-fitting on the other end. And since most photos focus on the top half and the face, it’s always best not to go too loose on top. 

The hair and face are always part of the photo so it pays to get them right. It’s best to take care of the hair properly and wear the hair in its natural state. There’s nothing wrong with wearing it down and loose as long as there’s no hair dangling directly in front of the face- that will cast shadows in the photo. Bangs are fine as long as they’re not long enough to obscure the eyes. 

Proper skin care makes a huge difference and allows us to keep the makeup to a minimum. However, even just a little bit of makeup makes all of us look that much better. Just even out the skin, conceal as needed, define the eyes, and add subtle color to cheeks and lips. In this day and age of mask-wearing, eye makeup may be the only thing we need but it does pay to wear it. In most situations, women don’t need more than a little eyeliner and mascara but for a special event it’s OK to go a little further.  

For those of us who cover our hair with hats, berets, or mitpachot (headscarves), these can look great in photos too. Hats and berets are both great as long as they’re not too big or wide. Too wide a brim on the hat will obscure the face. Mitpachot are a great way to add color and print as long as everything flatters. 

In many instances, the pose makes the difference. Never face the camera straight-on. Place your body diagonally and then turn your face towards the camera. Do not press your arms to your torso- it’s unflattering. If you’re sitting, bend the arm (the one facing the camera) at the elbow and hold it a little away from the torso. If you’re standing, bend your elbow and put your hand on your waist- this makes the waist and the arm appear more defined and that flatters everyone.  Hold your head high, look slightly above the camera lens, and press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to avoid chin dangle. Think of something that makes you feel happy so that your smile comes off genuine. It’s best to practice posing ahead of time to find your best angle and your best smile. I find that I photograph best with my right side angled to the camera and a medium smile with teeth. 

Now, here’s how I dressed for school staff photos…

Skirt (not shown)- dark navy, straight. This helped give me a good base.

Overtop- navy, button-down, open. This top is fairly fitted but tucking it into my skirt gave me a slimmer silhouette. The dark top plus dark skirt gave me one long line. This along with the slim silhouette looks as good on camera as it does in real life. 

Shell- bright green t-shirt. Here’s the pop of color to draw attention to my face. I specifically wanted a color that would make a more dramatic impression without overdoing it and this turquoise green always works. 

Mitpachot- bright green print scarf layered with dark navy scarf. The print is a bold one but since it was layered with the solid navy and just peeked out, it wouldn’t move as much on camera and could still pop and flatter my face. 

Earrings- peachy-pink drops. One showstopper piece of jewelry is all any woman needs in real life and in photos. These earrings flatter my face while the peachy-pink color contrasts with the green and sets off the outfit. 

Dear readers, looking good in photos is completely doable so don’t drive yourselves crazy over it. You got this.  

Anatomy of an Outfit- My Cousin’s Wedding

This past November, my cousins in Israel married off their oldest son. The wedding was smaller and in keeping with Covid guidelines. My husband and I were invited but of course we couldn’t get there. However, they arranged for a livestream of the wedding and we enjoyed that even if it is a poor substitute for family togetherness.

In anticipation of the wedding, I wanted to dress just right. Since I wasn’t going to actually be there in-person, I didn’t have to get all dressed up. But I did want a festive mood for my outfit since I was celebrating albeit from afar.

Here’s how I did it.

Skirt- dark denim, fitted. I often wear this skirt for both casual and dressy-casual situations. Here, it was the casual element that kept me from looking and feeling overdone.

Shell- basic black, fitted. Black tops often make me appear a little dressed-up and I like that.

Overtop- purple, small stripes, slight sheen. Purple comes off a bit dramatic and festive on me and so I knew it would give me a festive mood. The slight sheen added to that. But this top is textured and not too fancy so it worked.

Wrap- Two square scarves, one in purple with rainbow stripes and the other dark purple with a red print. I wrapped these in a double Yerushalmi twist. The purples with their different twists added to the festivity of the look.

Earrings- aqua and olive texture-y beads. These earrings are still somewhat festive thanks to the aqua but the olive and the texture-y look tones it down just enough. Both these colors add a nice pop of contrast next to the purples.

As I was watching the livestream, I was surprised to see that the mothers, sisters, and niece of the bride and groom were all wearing purple. They all looked great. I emailed my cousins afterwards to tell them not only how nice the wedding was but about my wearing purple and how funny it was that I wound up in the wedding color. My cousin emailed me back saying that she was happy that I wore purple if that made me feel more like a part of the wedding.

May this crisis come to an end soon so that all families can come together in-person. 

Anatomy of an Outfit- Skirt Challenge

This past Sunday, I had in mind that I wanted to wear a specific skirt. So I took it out of the drawer. But then my mind went blank and I couldn’t think of what tops to wear with it. For a minute or two, I considered putting that skirt back and taking out a different one. But then I remembered that this is the kind of challenge that I love. So I went with that and then I came up with some ideas. Here’s how it worked…

Skirt- Medium-wash denim, A-line. Denim blue is a secondary neutral and it goes with just about everything. Maybe it was the myriad choices that left my mind a little overwhelmed. 

Shell- teal blue fitted t-shirt. Teal is my best blue and these tees work great both on their own or as layering pieces. 

Pullover top- Light aqua, deep V-neck. Normally, the waist of this top is more fitted but I think the extra cinch made it balloon out a bit. 

Button-down- Bright teal. Button-down shirts are so versatile. They work on their own, as an underlayer, or as an overtop. I can wear them buttoned or tied. 

It was a very cold day so three tops gave me good layering against the cold and they were much more flattering than one or two bulky tops. 

Wrap- Mix of solid scarf plus print, turquoise in both. These coordinated with the mix of blues in my tops. 

Earrings- Yellow and orange millefiori cluster drop earrings. Here was the perfect pop of contrast. Orange sits opposite blue on the color wheel and the two colors look great together. 

Dear readers, did you ever have an outfit challenge? How did you handle it?

Anatomy of an Outfit- Podcast

In my last blog post, I mentioned that different colors can have different effects on different people. According to the fashion guru from whom I learned that, colors from the red/pink/peach/orange family show passion and enthusiasm. Just the other day, I needed to show that but in a restrained way. I appeared on a podcast with my friend, Miriam Glick Yager, to discuss the concept of erasing women in the Jewish world. We both agree that it’s wrong and that we Jews need to do something about it. As my readers know, I’m very passionate about that subject and so that had to show in my appearance. Here’s how I did it. 

Skirt- fitted, navy, red seaming. My skirt wasn’t seen but it was still there and since it flatters me, it made me feel good and gave me a great base.

Shirt- dark brown, fitted, button-down. Dark brown is my best neutral for when I don’t want to look TOO dramatic- it goes with everything but the color is softer. The structure made me feel more authoritative. 

Shell- dark coral. This color makes me appear rosy and healthy and it showed my passion and enthusiasm but as a shell, it was reined in by the shirt and top so that it wasn’t overwhelming. 

Wrap- Two watercolor-print scarves, one in brown with green and orange and the other with pumpkin and plum. As a repeat of the colors of my tops, this wrap coordinated nicely. 

Earrings- light, bright green drop earrings. These added a nice pop next to the browns and corals and kept attention near my face. 

Dear readers, what colors show your passion and enthusiasm?