Frum Is Not Frumpy
One of the most common questions that my friends who are thinking about becoming baalei teshuva ask me is what the impact will be on their wardrobe. “Does being Orthodox, or an observant Jew, mean I must wear a black suit all the time?” Women have similar concerns, noticing that so many Orthodox women wear black or dark colored suits and dresses. “Frum is not frumpy” I tell them, and thanks to the baalei teshuva movement, frum designers are creating clothing that is anything but boring.
Here are the basics
Dressing frum means dressing modestly or tznuit. The clothes should not bring attention to you, but rather what you do and who you are inside should bring the focus of the world to you. For women this means the skirt is a little longer, sleeves are at or below the elbow and no revealing necklines.
Men have it much easier of course. You can still wear your favorite khakis, sweater and baseball cap (over your kippah of course). Once you become observant, though, there are a couple of additions to your wardrobe. One is the kippah or yarmulke. Now this gets to be fun because your kippah tends to define your affiliation. There is the black velvet kippa, knitted black kippa, knitted white kippah and multi-colored knitted kippah. Depending on which stream you have decided to join, so goes your kippah. The second addition is the tzitzit, which is a garment with four corners and special fringes tied to each of the corners. We wear this under our shirts at all times. Depending upon where you are holding, your fringes will be tucked in or hanging out.
No need to toss out everything from your closet
I am addressing this part to the women. Chances are the clothes you own can be easily modified to be more modest. For instance, to a sleeveless dress, simply add a sleeved shell underneath. Of course, if you want to use the opportunity to go on a shopping spree, then this is a different matter. You will be surprised by the variety of trendy, colorful, high-fashion frum clothing you can find at specialty stores or online. In fact, many mainstream clothing retailers offer modest clothing perfect for your new wardrobe.