Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing from Jeans-and-T-Shirts to Skirts-and-Sleeves

I’ve always been a jeans-and-t-shirts kind of girl. Very low maintenance. So much so that I didn’t even know I have an obsessive compulsion to color-coordinate until my freshman year of college! Beginning to work in a professional field had partially ruined this tendency, but in April 2010, I switched full-time to knee-length or longer skirts and elbow-length sleeves or longer. I don’t always wear shirts that cover my collarbone, but I do keep my necklines exceptionally high to make sure no cleavage could ever show. I’m very top-heavy, so this is a challenge.

The following are my observations on changing from a lazy girl-dresser to wearing skirts full time. I’ve always been pretty modest with my shirts, so that was less of a big deal to me, though as you’ll see below, even my shirt fashion has changed.

Most Expected Hassle: Having to shave my legs more often and in all seasons. I suggest having a healthy stash of long skirts for those days when you really don’t care anymore.
Less of a Big Deal than Expected: Getting the skirt caught in the car door. Sometimes it might look silly to outsiders, but it never makes my skirt dirty. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Also, now I almost always remember to sweep my skirt inside the car automatically.
Best Perk: Always looking somewhat dressed up to a secular POV. I work in a professional office with business casual dress expected, but even my jean skirts fly as being “dressy” enough. I now own one wardrobe for all my needs, except business suits. This. Is. Awesome.
Hardest Clothing to Get Right Without Looking Frumpy: Business suits. Still working on that one. Unfortunately, I work in a field where business suits are a necessary evil. Also, shells under a suit are considered “dressing poorly in a suit” in my field, which prefers women to wear button-up shirts with one or two buttons undone. And of course, buttoning up all the buttons makes me choke and looks vaguely like those women freed from the Yearning for Zion compound.
Best Surprise: The change really wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Even better, I always feel prettier, so my self-confidence has actually sky-rocketed! I was amazed how much time I spent worrying about wedgies (or their frontal equivalent) with pants. If I have a wedgie now, I now I can make it to the bathroom without anyone being the wiser.
Biggest Double-Edged Sword: Skirts are a lot more forgiving when you’ve gained a few pounds. The other-double-edged sword is that, when you lose weight, almost no skirts are made for wearing with a belt.
Biggest Gripe: Skirts. Need. Pockets. kthanxbai.
Not Looking Forward to: Winter. Thankfully, I live on the sunny west coast, but winter comes here eventually. I need to go shopping :(
Most Surprising Moment When I Didn’t Cave and Wear Pants: Moving! I loaded the UHaul, moved the boxes, and deconstructed/reconstructed all my furniture, all while wearing a skirt. However, I suggest a knee-length skirt, preferably blue jean, with pockets. You need the pockets for obvious reasons, and you don’t want to step on your skirt. I accidentally did, and it “pantsed” me. Thankfully, no one was looking! Also, a jean skirt is much easier to clean if it gets dirty, which it will.
Biggest Fashion Change: Going from few bottoms and lots of tops to wanting fewer tops and tons of bottoms. I’ve shown a tendency towards bright-colored plain tops with funky (or plain) skirts. I’m a fashion purist, so I won’t mix patterns, and I make a big effort to color-coordinate (even the shoes and glasses! But not purses. That’s silly.). I’ve tended to wear items of solid bright colors because solid colors almost always go together really well without clashing. For instance, today I’m wearing bright red glasses, bright purple shirt, bright yellow watch, green purse, jean skirt, and purple plaid Airwalks. If those were patterned, somehow I don’t think they would match as well. Yet instead, I’m funky frum!
Biggest Fashion Hurdle: Shoes. I now own a lot more shoes, and I think simple flats and Airwalk-type shoes go very well with skirts, but I will wear pants again before I would wear sneakers with a skirt. Just. Looks. Bad. Beauty hurts, ladies. However, I surprisingly almost never wear heels, even to work. And my skirts apparently let me get away with my purple plaid Airwalks at work. Skirts FTW!
Unexpected Reactions from Other People: Both men and women open doors for me CONSTANTLY. Being a Southern belle, this doesn’t bother me. And it gives me a chance to say thank you and smile at a stranger J I think it makes me a happier person, and also gives me a chance to brighten someone else’s day with returned kindness.
Biggest Change in Myself: Because of the aforementioned feeling of prettiness and self-confidence, for once, I finally take pride in making fashionable choices! Basically, I have a lot more fun getting ready in the morning!
In sum, I really like the changes in my life caused by switching to skirts. And almost all of them have been unexpected!


19 comments:

  1. How has it been for you changing over from jeans and t-shirts to long skirts and long sleeves?

    I'm still trying to prepare for that one... I'm married so I'm beginning my tznius with covering my hair.

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  2. I agree with all that is written here!! Feel like I've just read my own life...

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  3. You know, I'm amazed at how very similarly I feel! It's almost as if you've written my experience, too.

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  4. Where do you purchase your long skirts? I'm trying to find some online and they're SO hard to find! Either that or they're overpriced.

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    1. Originally posted: September 24, 2011 at 8:24 PM

      I mainly find them at Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, and the website Kosher Casual. Mostly the first two. Right now, long skirts are very trendy, so they're everywhere if you take the time to wade through clothing stores. My friend also swears by Forever 21, but I choose not to shop there because they are very vocal about donating their profits to Christian missionary organizations. But they do have a wide variety of reasonably-priced skirts and shells.

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  5. I've been seeing them everywhere too. I try to find skirts that don't have to be hemmed (I'm only 4'9") which is difficult but I've got three now that were okay. They weren't not meant to be ankle length so that works out for me. Kohls (which you can find online) always has below the knee - ankle length skirts and their prices are reasonable.

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  6. Button-down shirts can be made more tolerable by sewing a snap halfway between the top two buttons, if the second button makes the neckline too low. And a few snaps between the other buttons will prevent gapping, especially if you're well endowed.

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  7. Very interesting take on the effects of switching to skirts. I also found that wearing skirts (and covering my hair) led to me feeling more dressed up and more presentable than when I wore pants. But since I'm not Orthodox (or planning to become Orthodox anytime soon) dressing that way brought along a lot of baggage that I wasn't willing to shoulder.

    Very glad you're enjoying it, though. Wrap skirts from various online stores were some of my favourites.

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  8. What happens if you work in field that wearing a skirt could be considered dangerous? I've considered switching over to an all skirt diet, but it wouldn't always be acceptable.

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    1. Some get a heter to wear pants. Some just wear pants without asking. It's possible to wear jeans and a long fitted shirt that covers the "split" area (the "tunic shirt" idea discussed by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein). Others I know use fitted knee-length blue jean skirts (with or without tights underneath, according to your hashkafah). Blue jeans skirts can even be starched to help them stay in place even more than they already do. Likewise, you could sew up any slit that might create a piece of fabric a machine could grab. Blogger Rucheli wrote about her experiences as an engineer in a factory on her blog: http://www.rucheli.com/2010/chick-in-the-skirt/ She describes wearing a black skirt, but I personally would favor the stay-in-place qualities of a blue jean skirt.

      As a side note, you should especially read the new post about throwing out pants if you do decide to make the change. Not throwing out your pants on a whim is especially important in a case like yours, when you may be forced to begin wearing them again (or simply decide you feel safer in them). http://crazyjewishconvert.blogspot.com/2012/02/what-not-to-do-when-you-frum-out.html

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  9. Thanks so much :)

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  10. Hi
    I'm a Christian (my dad is Jewish) and like you, my faith just feels 'right' and true to me - I loved your blog post about it being like falling in love. To me, that's what real faith is all about, connecting with this big God, who sees every part of me!

    Anyway, not here to share my story - but just to say that I'm thoroughly enjoying reading yours! It's really insightful and I like too, the idea of a proper Sabbath. It's something that contemporary Christians often don't do. I grew up in a Christian household where we were strictly regulated on 'Sunday activities'; no TV, no going to the stores, no games. It all felt like such a bore. Funny, how, as you get older, you learn how to rejoice in peace and quiet and being able to shut yourself off from the rest of the world.

    Though I doubt we would ever see eye to eye on the subject of Jesus - I think I can learn from what you write. I think lots of Christians could. :)

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  11. Look for custom-sewn modest clothing at http://modestanytime.com. It's a Jewish company, but many non-Jews are also clientele. They run free Snood giveaways and contests.

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  12. For those who are still looking for long jean skirts... do u sew? if not, find a good seamstress. grab 2 pairs of your jeans. one that fits super well (maybe a bit loosely) and a second pair to cut up. Your seamstress will split the jeans down the seams and cut 2 triangles out of the other pair to use as inserts. For some reason I can't post a link in here from the iPad, but if you google fashion-icon jean splicing, there is a tutorial. If you want a knee length skirt, you will only need one pair of jeans.

    One of my friends even has one that's sewn straight in the front with pleats in the back, super cute (knee
    length). The best part is that you're not wasting all of your old clothes.

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  13. Hello,

    What does an Orthodox Jewish woman wear when she exercises? Like long distance running or other forms of cardio? What are the rules for that?

    Thanks

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  14. How do you keep from getting really hot when tznuis? It gets really hot in the summer where I live, and I can't imagine covering my elbows and knees and collarbones all the time.

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  15. my lady is allways shutting her long jersey maix skirts in the car door some times there loads left hanging out flapping around for every one to see i do keep telling her but i,ve give up now its just left flapping around there always out once for ages she does look nice in them though

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  16. Hey! Great perspective on switching to skirts. I'm actually a Catholic, and I grew up wearing long denim skirts and jumpers. I hated it, and when I grew up, I did what I wanted and wore whatever I pleased. Now I am 27, engaged, and running right back to my roots--albeit more fashionably. People have just started making comments, many times people say I look nice so I think it is a plus. People seem even friendlier to me now; I had never received compliments on my dressing habits before. All in all, it's been positive but I am scared of my rocky mountain winter. I guess I'll see how it goes. Anyhow, great read and good job.

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