Thursday

Seen & Heard- Stylish Orthodox Jews Find Inspiration In Rachel And Olivia

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All women have their own interpretations of what looking stylish is. One group which has perhaps unfairly lacked an abundance of good celebrity role models or inspiration rather for high fashion wear has apparently been Orthodox Jewish women. In a sea of revealing clothing and hot-short wearing women whose faces are splashed across the media today, Olivia Palermo and Rachel Zoe have become “ladylike” honorary ambassadors.

The importance of modesty or Tznuit as it is referred to in Hebrew is the practice of dressing and conducting conservatively in. The principal guiding point of tzniut in regard to dress is that a Jew should not dress in a way that attracts attention. Tznuit is particularly stressed among girls and women in Orthodox society, although Judaism prescribes modesty for both men and women.

Sharon Langert, who writes for Orthodox style blog Fashion Isha (isha means woman in Hebrew), which compiles Orthodox-appropriate looks as seen on the runways, in magazines, and on non-Orthodox fashion blogs spoke to Buzzfeed about the shift towards more stylish clothing for Orthodox women.

"She really knows how to put herself together," says Langert. While “not everything Olivia Palermo wears is modest", says Heyman, "she does wear a lot of long, flowy skirts and blouses. It's very classy how she dresses." Heyman also praises celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, who “wears a lot of vintage and layers” and is “covered up in [a way] that works for the Orthodox girls."

Rachel Zoe whose work as a stylist has garnered many celebrity fans including Liv Tyler, Natalia Vodianova, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, does indeed choose not to wear particularly revealing clothing. Her aesthetic reaches beyond showing too much skin instead revealing a much deeper understanding of well put together fashion. As for her own line of clothing, the Rachel Zoe collection's Fall 2012 runway was packed with trousers, silk blouses, blazers and even a dress worn over pants- a sure hit with Orthodox women.

Olivia on the other hand can't really be credited with contributing much to the fashion world other than the curious yet commendable task of simply dressing nicely. As we have noted before, since leaving MTV's cancelled Hill's spin-off show The City, where she did something or other at Elle magazine, we have only ever seen Olivia being happily photographed by "street style" shutterbugs. Nonetheless her quite conservative fashion sense does serve a purpose for modern Orthodox women, so for this socialite, we are sure there is a silver lining in there somewhere.

"The Torah says that every Jewish woman is a Bat Melech, a daughter of a king, of God, and that she should present herself as such," explains Reuvena Leah Grodnitzky, who organized the Inner Expressions fashion show in Philadelphia last year that featured clothes designed by fashion students in compliance with Jewish modesty rules.

“It's hard to find colorful clothes in stores that sell clothes for religious women,” says Marina Rahlin, who is launching a line of dresses for Orthodox women. “Everything is dark."

Adi Heyman, an Orthodox stylist living in Manhattan feels Orthodox women are becoming as stylish as ever. "These days it's easy to dress modestly and be on-trend." Button-up blouses, long-sleeved denim shirts, flowy vintage dresses and pleated maxi skirts are among the items you’ll find in any Zara or Forever 21 right now that Orthodox women are stocking up on this season, she says.

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