A Change Will Do You Good

This post has been a long time coming. I've thought about going back to pants for well over a year, but decided to use my shopping ban as time for reflection, and make the choice with proper thought. I have to admit, I am slightly nervous about posting these pictures: a small community  has grown on this little blog of women who struggle with modest dressing, many of whom have told me how much they appreciate my dedication to both tradition and style. That said, if you're a regular reader, you've most likely noticed my ambivalent feelings about "modesty"-- I struggle with a desire, on the one hand, to follow Jewish law, but a sense of feeling particularly bound by the ways in which womens' bodies are presented --or rather, covered-- by that body of law. Does my clothing remind me of my obligations to God and my fellow man? Or does it serve to silence radical thought and engender uniformity? I value both tradition and free expression, and find that they come into conflict often.

On a practical note: I felt incredibly free wearing this to work, to visit friends and out to dinner yesterday. The question of the permissibility of pants within the framework of halakha, or Jewish law, is an interesting one, but there are those who permit loose pants (like what you see below.) I won't get into the legal mumbo-jumbo (but if you're interested, see here, here, here, and for a taste of the discussion about Orthodox women who wear pants, here.) For now, I'll stick with boyfriend and harem-type shapes. I'm not really sure what the future holds: a return to skirts? Short shorts? (Kidding. I have no desire to go there.)
Well, here goes.
The list:
-white button down, Banana Republic
-boyfriend jeans, Zara
-leopard t-strap flats, Richard Taylor
-metallic braided belt, Gap
-patterned scarf, vintage
Ta-da! I have to say, never having worn pants as an adult, I'm rather looking forward to learning how (I stopped after spending a year in Jerusalem between high school and college.) And any shopping suggestions for finding baggy, haremy trousers? I'm thinking vintage may be the way to go for some nice roomy legs and a higher waist, which I love on skirts. 


orchidsinbuttonholes said...

This is such a fascinating, thoughtful post, Nina, and such a complicated, interesting topic. It is true that tradition and free expression are often not in harmony, but I admire how you explore and consider both on your blog.

And I love how you're wearing these jeans with the big cuffs and fun flats. So classic with the white button-front shirt, too!

Sidewalk Chalk said...

I loved reading this, and you definitely put a lot of thought in considering both tradition and expression. I'd love to read further thoughts from you about it.

I really like how you've styled these pants. As you know, I'm not much of a pants-wearer myself, and so finding the right fit and design are things that baffle me. After seeing you in these, I may consider experimenting with looser styles -- it looks so flattering on you!

Emily Kennedy said...

Wow! What a big step! I'm really honored to be a part of the community that gets to witness you thinking through some of these concepts and trying new things.

I'm generally not super thrilled about harem pants, but I do think these are really cute:


BakerGirl said...

First, this outfit is great! I love it!

Second, I have to say that even though I don't love most pants I am reluctant to give them up... I have one pair of looser "boyfriend" jeans kind of like these and I alternate between feeling awesome in them and dowdy. Just depends on the day. Kudo's for making them work and putting so much thought behind this outfit and post.

I look forward to reading more thoughts on this from you!

Modesty is Pretty said...

Wow! You left me with me mouth open! I appreciate your honesty in your post. I don't wear pants (wore them before) and I don't particularly care for them as they are not flattering on me, but I have to say I've struggled and have missed my jewelry and make-up, sometimes I also wonder how much am I doing it for what I trully believe an how often I wear certain things just to conform...anyways, I love your flats shoes they are so pretty!You are a brave one! =)

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Nina, I really enjoyed reading this post and agree that tradition and free expression can often come into conflict. I think this is especially true for women.

This outfit is incredibly chic, and that scarf is just beautiful! I love that you chose to pair the pants with a classic white button down.

Ayelet said...

i'll say it again: titchadshi. you are beautiful as always.

Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts on tradition, modesty, individualism, and the multiple ways those concepts continue to intersect. Your musings are fascinating, and you (as always) look terrific.

Destined For Now said...

You are stylish and lovely and whatever your choices in the future may be, you will still be stylish an lovely.
I'm no fan of harem pants, but I love high waited looks! Good luck finding a good style.

bracha tzipora said...

I'm commenting on your blog for the first time, I hope you don't mind :) Anyway, I guess I fall into the category of people that are inspired by your blog and doing modesty stylishly. I'm a member of a conservative shul (my hubs is actually a cantor) and since the Conservative movement can't make any decisions about anything, I feel your frustration and your challenge. I don't feel that skirts are the only way to be modest, but I'm also not ready to commit personally to only elbow covered arms or head covering beyond in the shul.

The challenge with Judaism, like, as I glean from your other readers, other modesty traditions and customs, is that it demands us to "figure it out" for ourselves. There's nothing in the Torah or the Rabbincal writings on harem pants or loose gauchos with a tunic over, etc etc. So, we re-imagine them, and we find what's best for ourselves. The challenge--more aptly, perhaps, the struggle--is that we are part of communities that judge us NO MATTER WHAT we do. My community occassional wonders if I EVER wear pants (yes, just not too regularly). I think that it's all a balance, finding the right clothing/covering for your situation and location (which you DO with the LOVELY shabbos hats, *grin*) and being strong in yourself, your opinions, and your belief.

Kudos, yasher koach (sorry, I can't remember how to transliterate the feminine version before my coffee...) :)

Modesty is Pretty said...

Nina I read the links you provided, and they are very interesting, I trully believe that God sees beyond clothes, I love modesty, but on the other hand I don't think pants are immodest, well not the ones you are wearing, the one's that are so tight you can barely sit or show the underwear are immodest in my opinion, but I honestly can't explain why women "should not" wear pants. I stopped wearing them about 4 years ago and I'm fine with that I love skirts, but I've seen very modest women in pants (you an example). My religious denomination says the opposite...and on the issue I dissagree. =)

Generation Kvetch said...

My first thought is that a gal who discusses halacha while wearing leopard print shoes ROCKS.

I appreciate your candor in sharing your thoughts with us. I will be interested to see where your journey goes. Although I am not fully observant myself, I have the utmost respect for people who are and also a curiosity as to why they choose that path. Your post lets me know it is not always a smooth journey and it makes a difference to me to know that as I struggle with my own faith and my level of observance.

Y said...

You look like Rosie the Riveter! Another strong, bold woman to look up to!

Y said...

You look like Rosie the Riveter! Another strong, bold woman to look up to!

Rina said...

Hi there. I'm late catching up on my google reader too :)

I must say I was disappointed with this post - I see I'm the first one to say so. I am not commenting on the permissibility of pants in halacha, although I am pretty hardcore orthodox and dress more conservatively than you do. What disturbed me was your reasoning.

"Does my clothing remind me of my obligations to God and my fellow man? Or does it serve to silence radical thought and engender uniformity?"

Of all people :) you, as a fashion blogger would realize that eliminating one item from your wardrobe does not in any way engender uniformity - you are so delightfully unique and colorful within your (previous) boundaries, and I'm sure nothing could silence you! :)

Orthodoxy does not strive to silence radical thought. Judaism values diversity of opinion (within the boundaries of truth), a thirst for essence of life which can only be achieved by intense questioning and study. Nothing in our world remains unchallenged. So your statement confuses me.

On a completely aesthetic and subjective note, I find that dresses and skirts are more flattering on you. But that's neither here nor there :)

(I would leave my email address for you, but can't find a place to do that... but I am subscribed to your comments and if you choose to respond over here, I'll be watching :) )

à la Modest said...

Got here through Shey's latest post. I sure could have used this entry to help me think about things if I had read this in August :)

It's nice to hear about your honesty! My religious association doesn't really abide in modesty, so I feel like it's even tougher for me to continue because to them modesty is legalism. I find more people to confide in from Muslims, Mormons, or Jewish backgrounds.

I rarely wear pants because they aren't very flattering on me, so that switch to skirts and sometimes lose pants was easy!

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