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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

It's not that I care about dressing *like* everyone else, but...

Last night at around 10:15, my husband called me to tell me that the gabbai ("deacon", I guess, is the best translation - he basically makes the services run smoothly. This is a voluntary position of great honor and responsibility.) of our synagogue was having a "vort" for his daughter in a nearby shul. A "vort" is sort of an engagement party, and it usually happens very quickly.

I asked if I needed to change and he said he was just wearing what he wore to his daf yomi shiur. Um. "Daf Yomi" means "page a day" - international study program for the entire Talmud, studied both sides of one page at a time over a period of 7.5 years - this is the tenth cycle, and it's done by thousands of people. Shiur means class.

So, against what should have been my better judgement, and not thinking that he wouldn't notice what the women were wearing, I left the house wearing what I was wearing - a sweatshirt, a shabby black skirt, sneakers and a plain crocheted snood. Think of it as the equivalent of a sweatshirt and sweatpants.

And even before I got to the shul, I realized I'd made a mistake. Every woman headed in the same direction was wearing a dress suit and sheitl or hat. I was drastically underdressed.

Oh, no one looked or cared, but I was very uncomfortable. If I'd thought, I'd have pulled together an outfit - a nice top, a nice skirt, a hat, maybe a piece of jewelery. It wouldn't have been on the same level as the other women, but I don't need to be the *same* as them. I'm happy enough in my own style of clothing. I just need to be in the same ballpark as opposed to looking like I was just scrubbing my bathroom.

I kept my coat (old, lining tearing out, as opposed to my fake fur, which would have been too warm anyway) clutched closed, quite unfairly scolded my husband for not noticing the other women, because he's not supposed to notice them, said "mazel tov" to Eli, who was the only person I knew in the room anyway, and left.

This all makes sense, doesn't it?

I should have called a frum friend to find out what was right to wear to one of these. I'd never been to one before.


Too late now, but could you get a lacy shawl of some sort, or a delicate fringed one, that you could keep folded up in your bag for tossing over your shoulders at a moment like this?

I'm thinking of the crocheted ones that used to run about $10, in lightweight nylon or silk thread; they add a nice touch to almost everything, and don't take up too much space in a bag.

That does sound lovely.

I'm sorry you felt uncomfortable, I know how that feels. I tend to dress shleppy at home, but when I run into people in the store/down the block etc. they are always dressed nicely with makeup and everything.

And vorts have different dress codes depending on where they are. In the 5 Towns, always a suit and sheitel/Shabbos hat. In Brooklyn, usually the same. Great Neck - dressed up. Outside of Greater NY area - sweater/blouse and skirt and whatever headcovering you feel comfy in.

At least you weren't wearing a *gasps in horror* jean skirt!!!!! (mine is so worn that it is white instead of dark blue in some areas) because that would be just awful!!! /sarcasm

Don't worry about the clothing. The important part was the saying mazal tov. Vorts are usually so busy that it's hard to notice who is wearing what and who actually came.

*hugs* I'm sorry you weren't able to enjoy the party.

For future reference, I'll tell you what I do if I don't know how to dress; I dress as I would if I had a meeting at work, adding long sleeves or a long skirt if it's a frum event (after I'm married, I'll also add a snood for frum events). So, nice blouse or sweater, and nice pants or skirt, and my business casual shoes. It tends to work out pretty well; fannish folks just think that I must have come from work, and everyone else thinks I blend in.

It was a room full of strangers anyway. :) I only really enjoy fannish parties.

That's pretty much what I'd have done if I'd had only *thought*. And if most of my nice blouses and sweaters weren't in the laundromat. :)
Except that my snood was too casual. I'd have worn a Shabbat hat as opposed to the Parkhurst hats I wear to work.

My resistance to sheitls is wearing down. I miss hair...

Hmmm. There are certainly some very nice sheitels, and I'm sure you could find one that would suit you. Would that suit your personal interpretation of the modesty rules, though?

It wouldn't suit my *wallet*. Nice sheitls are expensive. Think *laptop*.

*boggles* $1500 for a *wig*? Are there halachic requirements for how it can be constructed, or something?

Halachic? No. But the inexpensive ones look really ugly and don't hold up to daily wearing. Not that I'd wear one daily - I *like* hats, and have since I was in high school.

Okay, that's top of the line - human hair, custom fit and style, with realistic parts and streaks of color and hand tied and...

At least one sheitlmacher in my area offers *financing*.

They do sell less expensive ones that look just fine but I have long hair and a very low hairline and both those things have to be taken into account - I don't think a standard cap would work. Okay, the hair might be dealable. I can't be the only married woman around here with long hair, but my hairline starts around my *eyebrows*. :)

Well, an inch above your eyebrows. By comparison, my hair, which hasn't really receded much in the center yet, starts two inches above the eyebrows. Your snood starts at about your hairline in the Bubbly Brunette photo, no?

A strategy that I've used for frum events is:

For community events like vorts or sheva brachos, I dress to match the community's standard dress for Rosh Chodesh. It seems to work fairly well, and it allows you to blend in to different communities after just one month. :)

I haven't noticed anyone dressing differently for Rosh Chodesh here...

I just should have thought. Five minutes thought and I'd have had something on the right level.