Monday, September 27, 2010

First Day of School






Occasion:

Ahh, it seems like just yesterday I was standing in front of my parents front door wearing my first day of school outfit (picked out 2 weeks prior), backpack (stuffed to the brim with new school supplies) and holding my action figure lunch box (don't ask!) smiling the "mom, c'mon! I gotta catch the bus and get to school early to set up my cubby/desk/locker so hurry up and take the pictures, pleeeeeeeaseeee" (yes, I am a huge dork!).

Well not much has changed 15+ years later. I picked out my outfit a week prior, packed my school bag (backpack now replaced by a chic leather purse but I forgot to pose with it) days before, had my lunch and snacks waiting in the fridge, and counted out bus and subway fare. I got up super early since I didn't know how long it would take me for my commute (my classes start earlier this year), got ready with half an hour to spare and decided to leave and get there early to 'organize everything'. D wished me luck and was out the door with Keppie to take her to 'doggie day care' before heading off to work himself.

I go to school at a Women's Learning Institute in Manhattan. This year my course of study is very Gemara intensive. We have Gemara every morning for 3 1/2 hours. Most of that is study time with our study partner (chavrusa). We decipher the ancient original texts in Hebrew and Aramaic (which involves us banging our heads against figurative brick walls sometimes) and try to understand what the commentary says and how the arguments are developed and (hopefully) resolved. The afternoons vary with studying Jewish Law 2x a week and studying Biblical Exegesis 2x a week for 3 1/2 hours. It is very challenging and I love it.

I wanted to make a good impression on the first day so I decided to dress up a bit. I actually wore this outfit for Shabbos earlier this summer, but since I can't take pictures from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday, I don't often document my Shabbos wear. I love this paisley blouse and since it's a busy pattern I decided to pair it with a simple black pencil skirt. To add polish to the ensemble I added the wide leather woven belt. Keeping with the brown accessories I layered these 2 necklaces and wore my menswear-inspired oxfords.

To all my Jewish friends celebrating Succos, have a chag sameach (a joyous holiday)! To my other friends, have a Happy Fall!


Outfit:

Black undershirt: Elzee (in Brooklyn)

Blouse: J.CREW

Skirt: Target

Belt: J.CREW

Necklaces: Thrifted

Shoes: J.CREW

Ring: Impressions


Do you ever pick out special outfits ahead of time?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Very Berry






Occasion:

I wore this outfit 3 weeks ago (I took a mini-hiatus to do the timely posts: NYFW and our vacay) and I totally forgot what I did that day. The only thing I can remember is the trip that Keppie and I took to Petco together. This was our first trip there since she had all of her shots and so she was able to walk around and not ride in the cart. She LOVED the bone aisle and went around sniffing everything! She met a 110 lb. Newfie and really wanted to play, but the Newfie totally blew her off...the nerve! It was super cute when she walked because her paws kept slipping on the floor...she couldn't stand up straight when she got excited. She tried to play with another Golden but it was afraid of her (the owner said that the Golden was afraid of dogs...huh??). The employees LOVE when we come to Petco because, really, who doesn't love a Golden puppy?!

I remember it being really warm out so I didn't want to layer too much. I decided on this berry-colored long sleeved shirt because it is very lightweight. All summer I have been turning to my trusty denim pencil skirt, and it hasn't let me down yet. I think that the accessories really pull together this otherwise (potentially) boring ensemble. D got this necklace for me and I think it's so cool - it has great 'chainmail'-esque detailing and gems that look different colors depending upon what color I wear. They definitely look more purple when I wear purple (and more brown when I wear brown). I'm not really sure why I wore my glasses, although I have been wearing glasses more in the months since I got these frames than I ever have in my 15ish years of wearing glasses. I guess that means I like them a lot:)

Outfit:

White Undershirt: Elzee (in Brooklyn)

Shirt: Banana Republic

Skirt: J.CREW

Necklace: gift from D

Belt: Marshall's

Shoes: J.CREW

Glasses: Dolce & Gabbana



What do you do to spice up a (potentially) boring outfit??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modesty: My Personal Journey




I've been wanting to write a post explaining my decision to dress modestly for a while now, but I needed some time to put all of my thoughts down here and make them as coherent as possible. I didn't always dress as modestly as I do now...it was a long process that required a lot of thought and reflection and looking back on it, it was a life-changing decision that I now cherish dearly.

I began to dress modestly 4 years ago (September 2006) at the beginning of my senior in college. I had been undergoing a personal transformation in terms of becoming a more Torah observant Jew for the previous year and a half. I made the decision that I wasn't going to wear pants anymore (I would only wear skirts below the knee), I wasn't going to show any cleavage and I wasn't going to wear any sleeveless shirts of any kind. I decided to make all of these changes 'cold turkey'.  I packed a box of all pants, tank tops and low cut shirts and stuck it deep under my bed. It went well for a few months, but then it started to get cooler outside. This made it easier in terms of the neckline and sleeves, but as it got colder I began to miss my pants. I envied all of the girls that I saw with their jeans tucked into their UGGs. Even though I was wearing tights and boots, my legs were always cold. Every morning as I was getting dressed, I would wish that I could just put on my jeans and after a while I began to resent wearing skirts. Around December/January I dug my favorite jeans out from under my bed and that was the end of skirts (except on Shabbos - I always wore skirts on Shabbos).

In May 2007, I graduated from college and started my first professional post-college job. I wore skirts to the office for the first week because I thought it looked more professional. I was working for a Jewish non-profit in Washington D.C. but only a handful of Orthodox Jews worked there. One of my Orthodox co-workers (who incidentally wore pants) asked me if I only wore skirts. In that moment before I answered her, I felt an incredible urge to try out only wearing skirts again. I was now in a new environment and I could totally reinvent any aspect of myself that I wanted. I decided to take this as an opportunity and a challenge to myself. However, I went about it with a much different emotional and practical approach. I told myself that when I woke up that I would try to put on a skirt, however, if I wanted to wear pants, then so be it - I would put on a pair of pants and the next day I would reevaluate and try to wear a skirt. I left myself with an option and took away the limitations that I had previously put on myself. So I took the plunge saying, "Yes, I only wear skirts". Well, it's been 4 years and I haven't looked back. I still apply the same logic every day I get dressed. If one morning I decide to wear pants, then I will.

The next May (2008) I made the decision to only wear sleeves past my elbow. This was also really hard because D.C. in the summer is BOILING! It was a VERY uncomfortable summer. Not only did I get a lot of strange looks from people on the street, but people were constantly asking me, "Aren't you so hot?!" "YES! yes, I am burning up," but this is a very important and meaningful decision to me and I know that I have the resolve and determination to follow through with my promise to myself. In July 2008, I moved to Chicago and started working in an Orthodox day school. There was a dress code for all students, faculty and staff. Women had to wear skirts, sleeves below the elbows and necklines couldn't be lower than 2 inches below the collar bone. I never intentionally made the decision to wear necklines that covered my collar bone. This step was very organic and I didn't even realize that I had been doing it until a few months later. It was not a decision that I had to think a lot about; it basically just happened and I adapted my wardrobe accordingly. Every once in a while, I see a cute top and think that wearing an undershirt with it would ruin the look or just look plain weird but then I get over it. All in all, I love the decisions that I have made to dress more modestly. At this point in my life, I can't imagine dressing any differently.

When people find out that I am ba'al teshuva, they always are interested to hear my story of becoming more religious. I try to be as honest as possible and not to sugar-coat my decisions or the reasons behind them. I try to be very open about my own experiences because I am proud of my decisions and I support myself 100%. I don't make any apologies for how I grew up, the journey that I took, and my life and religious practices today. Dressing modestly, before my religious observance changed, seemed very antiquated and oppressive to me. I felt personally offended that a religious document thousands of years old (and then later interpreted by rabbis who outlined codes of law) could dictate how I should dress. I felt that it hindered my self expression and that the laws were set in place to subjugate women. I began sifting through the various original texts dealing with women and modesty to try to understand this concept from its' sources.  With help and support from friends (and my amazing then boyfriend/fiancee, now husband) who followed the laws and seemed to live happy daily lives while covering up, I realized that it would actually open doors for me as a woman. I started wearing skirts exclusively (women are supposed to wear skirts past their knees, as to not show the outline of the upper leg). I then progressed to wearing shirts that covered my elbows (another guideline of modest dress as outlined by Jewish codes of law - Laws of Tznius). The final stage was to wear shirts that cover my collarbone (another guideline of modest dress outlined by Jewish law.)

One of the most important goals of Jewish modesty laws is to "be attractive, not attracting." Modesty laws are not out there to make me feel bad about myself, or ugly or to take away any part of my self expression. Judaism wants me to look nice and feel good about myself! These laws are to safeguard my dignity; to make sure that I am not attracting negative attention, or any attention that I may not otherwise want. These laws were established so that when I met people they would see me - a whole person - not a set of individual body parts highlighted by certain pieces of 'barely there' clothing. People meet my personality and my sense of humor and my smile, not my arms or my legs or my cleavage! People take me more seriously as the intelligent woman that I am and forgo the preconceived notions based on what I am wearing.


Dressing modestly has a strong impact on my marriage as well. My personal goal of "being attractive, not attracting" means that I can dress in a way that makes my husband proud while still maintaining my own sense of personal style.  However, I don't have to worry that I am soliciting attention from other men inappropriately. I know that I am not showcasing anything that is inappropriate for anyone else to see. I still feel good and confident about the way I look. Dressing modestly has become very personal for me. I love that I am covered up; it's like there is a bit of mystery about the way I dress. I love that it allows my personality to shine through more vividly! And lastly, I love that I can still have a sense of style that is all my own and still maintain my own personal and religious integrity.

For more information and further reading about Jewish modesty laws (Tznius), see here, here and here.

If you have any questions or comments for me, feel free to post them, or, if you want to have a more personal conversation, feel free to email me at allyjsteinberg@gmail.com

Fashionably and Modestly Yours,

~Ally

Mini-Vacay: Day 2








Occasion:

Our 2nd day in Newport was really just a half day. We woke up, D helped make a minyan for Selichos at the Touro Synagogue, and we had a nice home-cooked breakfast of toast, eggs and pancakes at our B&B. Later than morning we walked around 2 more mansions and then got some ice cream. It was such a gorgeous day! We packed up the car around midday and started to drive home. My brother-in-law(M) and sis-in-law(D) and my nephew (M) were in NYC (from Chicago) visiting her sister(E) who just had a baby and we all met at E's apartment in Chelsea and had dinner. It was so nice seeing my bro & sis-in-law and my nephew is uber-adorable; I love him soooo much!!! After dinner we brought M, D & M back to our apartment to spend the night since they were leaving the next morning to go back to Chicago. We'll see them next week for the Jewish Holiday of Succos and I can't wait! My sis-in-law is so special to me - she's an amazing person, wife and mother and I have so much respect and admiration for her. We both married into the same family a year apart so we have a lot in common (we also, coincidentally have the same birthday). It was such a nice night that we got to spend with them, I loved it!

It warmed up a bit that day so I wore a bit of a lighter weight outfit. I layered this white short sleeved blouse over the undershirt and paired it with my trusty black pencil skirt. I wanted to add some interest to this otherwise plain outfit, so I doubled up on the belts. But--to add a twist to it--I criss-crossed them in the back and buckled the pink belt into the tan one's buckle and the tan one into the pink one's buckle. I finished the look with this bright orange, pink and purple scarf, the gold and pink necklace and some sunnies:)


Outfit:

White Undershirt: Ruthie's (in Monsey)

White Blouse: Banana Republic

Skirt: J.CREW

Belts: J.CREW

Scarf: Century 21

Shoes: J.CREW

Sunnies: Target

Bag: Longchamp

Necklace: Thrifted


How do you feel about the double belt??Does it work?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vacay Getaway

Tennis Hall of Fame



Back of one of the mansions

Tea House at the Marble House




Hi, D!


Occasion:

For Labor Day weekend D and I decided to take a mini-vacay to Newport, Rhode Island. We left at 6 AM on Sunday morning and got there a bit before 9:30. We checked into our bed and breakfast (kosher!) and then started our day. Newport is famous for their mansions and you can purchase tickets to tour a bunch of them. We decided to tour 5 of them. The 3 biggest ones had self-guided audio tours and the 2 smaller ones we took the tours with the docents. They were amazing! They used to be private residences back in the Guilded Age and are gorgeous beyond belief. The last one we went to on Sunday even had a wedding being set up in the backyard grounds.

After touring a bunch of the mansions we then went back to our B&B to change and D had planned a surprise for me. We went down to the wharf and got in line to board our sunset schooner ride! It was amazing and soooo romantic. D had packed a bottle of champagne for the boat and we got to watch the sun set over the bay. It was a beautiful night out, cool with a breeze and it was such a special surprise from my sweet husband...I love you, D:)

As you can see, this is a double outfit post! For the mansions, I wanted to be comfortable so I knew that I wanted to wear a jean skirt. The weather was super sunny out but fall was definitely in the air...so I decided to wear some fall-inspired colors. This lightweight shrug-like shirt was perfect layered over a white undershirt. To keep it closed, I decided on this wide braided leather belt. I wanted to keep the accessories in the same color scheme so I went with necklaces that were brown and neutral colors. To keep the hair out of my face on a semi-windy day, I wore this scarf with my headband fall and it was perfect!

For the boat, D warned me that it might be a bit chilly and that I might want to layer. I kept the same jean skirt, but layered a simple black button-down tied together with the same belt. To keep warm, I brought this 'blazer-esque' sweater. I love the structure of this sweater and that it has the style of a suit blazer. It has great lines and fits wonderfully! To add a pop of color, I went with this turquoise teardrop necklace. The bright scarf kept my hair out of my face on this windy night and pulled the outfit together:)


Outfit (s)

Day:
White Undershirt: The Pink Orchid (Passaic, NJ)

Shrug - Target

Skirt: J.CREW

Necklaces: Thrifted

Scarf: T.J. Maxx

Belt: J.CREW

Shoes: J.CREW

Shades: Target

Night:
Button-down: Gap

Skirt: J.CREW

Sweater: Banana Republic

Necklace: LOFT

Scarf: Century 21

Shoes: J.CREW

Belt: J.CREW

Shades: Target


Where would you go on a mini-vacay??


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New York Couture Fashion Week









Occasion:

I have the BEST husband ever!!! He surprised me with tickets to New York Couture Fashion Week:) It was at the famous Waldorf-Astoria on the East Side. Sunday night we sat second row at the Jack Guisso Runway Show where he showcased his Fall/Winter 2010-2011 Collection.
"Designer Jack Guisso has recreated winter elegance while breaking the barrier of traditional season colors. Thus was his Haute Couture fall/winter 2010 collection...out of the ordinary, no doubt, with sensual designs and a unique theme: The "Tango"."  ~Press Material
The dresses were stunning and the models were gorgeous. We had a fabulous time. We even got to stay around after and take some pictures on the runway and I even got some pics with the models!

I definitely felt the pressure while deciding what to wear to the show. Having not been to a fashion show before, I was worried about being under dressed. Well, I definitely wasn't under dressed, but I was wearing more clothing than most of the people there put together:) I have to admit that I was a little jealous that I couldn't wear a cute little cocktail dress, but after seeing some of the outfits that women were wearing, I remembered why dressing modestly is so important to me.

I chose a mostly black outfit because I figured it was the safest bet...I was right:) I love the asymmetrical zipper of this sweater and since it was rainy and chilly out I was glad that I layered. This blue and white striped button-down with the ruffles added to the interest of the outfit and because of the ruffles, I opted out of wearing a necklace. I wanted to keep the bottom simple, so I chose a classic black pencil skirt. I got these boots over the summer and they have been very lonely in my closet until recently. I broke them out over Rosh Hashanah and decided that they were the perfect finish to my ensemble. Since it was rainy, I wanted to wear a hat to keep my headband fall from getting soaked and I really liked the cute flowery details with the rhinestones. One of the models that I took a photo with told me my hat was cute:) I told her that I loved her!!


Outfit:

Sweater: J.CREW

Shirt: J.CREW

Skirt: Target

Boots: J.CREW

Beret: Nordstrom


What do you sometimes wish you could wear in the name of fashion??

Sunday, September 12, 2010

White on Labor Day







Occasion:

I wore this outfit so long ago that I can't ever remember what I did that day...senior moment:(! I promise...I wore this skirt on Labor Day...I just had to get in one more white skirt wear the day of the official ban! Not gonna lie though, wearing white skirts makes me hyper aware of what I am eating, sitting on, etc...because I am so prone to spilling on myself (I have been known to drop an entire plate of food on myself at once; ask D!), sitting on unidentifiable messes and generally getting white dirty one way or another. Miraculously, I think this skirt survived the season unscathed and will live to be worn another year...see ya on the flip side, skirt!

I really like the color combo of the white skirt and the mint green. Something about it is just so fresh. I also remember it being very hot that day and the loose flowy skirt and lightweight button-down kept me very cool. I decided to go with the cognac color accessories because I thought that the color contrast was good with the muted green and white. I got this braided belt at a thrift store in college - it was my first thrift store find and I was very excited. The only annoying thing is that it only has 3 holes and they are placed so that it has to be a hip belt. Because of that, I don't wear it so often as I usually prefer belts to be cinched on my waist. I paired the 3-circle wooden necklace with the ensemble to finish the look.


Outfit:

Shirt: J.CREW

Skirt: Gap

Belt: Thrifted

Necklace: Thrifted

Bag: Longchamp

Shoes: J.CREW


Do you follow the 'No White After Labor Day' ban? Are you gonna miss your white?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back in Action!



Hi All,
Just wanted to say sorry for not posting for the past week. It was really busy with a mini-vacay (!) and then a hiatus for the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. Don't worry though...I have a ton of great posts in my queue...so stay tuned:)

Fashionably Yours,
~Ally


Occasion:
I wore this outfit out to lunch with my aunt. She lives about 2 hours from D and me but we haven't seen her since we moved to Teaneck over a year ago. In fact, I think the last time I saw her was at our wedding last July. Needless to say, I was super stoked to see her:) We had a great lunch date, got to catch up and I really enjoyed it!

My aunt is pretty stylish, so I wanted to wear a sophisticated outfit to show off my own personal style. I originally wasn't sure if I should wear the two shades of blue (the chambray shirt & the denim skirt) together, but after seeing Kendi do it, I was sold! Check out Kendi's blog - she's super cute and her posts are really fun to read:)

I really like the lightweight material of this chambray shirt. At the beginning of the season, I bought two - a heavyweight one and a lightweight one - and I have definitely worn the lighter one more this season since it has been a scorcher in the NY area. I am still in love with my trusty denim pencil skirt, and to pull the ensemble together I belted it with this wide leather braided belt. To add some interest, I tied this silk scarf as a tie; a look I am very fond of. A "tie" is a great subsitution when you can't find a necklace to go with your outfit. Keeping the shoes and belt in the same color scheme, I opted for my oxfords to finish off the look:)


Outfit:

White Undershirt: Ruthie's (in Monsey)

Button-down Blouse: J.CREW

Skirt: J.CREW

Shoes: Steve Madden

Scarf (as tie): Century 21

Belt: J.CREW


Do you look to others for style inspiration? If so, who??

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mr. Golden Sun









Outfit:

Well, I finally got my hat fall and I am super excited! D and I made the trek into Brooklyn to Esti's Wigs (the place that I got my other 2 wigs) and after trying on a couple, I decided that this is the one. For those of you who are curious about hair covering - and the reasons behind it - check out here and here.  A hat fall is a partial wig that is meant to always be worn with a scarf or a hat. It is missing the hair from the hairline to the crown of the head in a U shape. This keeps the bulkiness to a minimum when wearing a wig underneath another hair covering (the hat/scarf). When D and I got married, I bought a headband fall, and over a year later I have worn it with a headband maybe 5 times. I always wear it with hats and scarves but because it has all of the front hair, it is really bulky and some hats don't always fit. So now, with the purchase of my hat fall, I can wear all of the scarves and hats I want with better comfort:) Here it is with a fun summer scarf!

Monday was very sunny and since September is here and summer won't last much longer, I wanted to wear something bright and sunny. Shield your eyes, this one is day-glo folks! The sweater was a little heavy for the current temp, but not unbearable. I like the color contrast of the bright yellow and the light blue. This skirt is also breezy which is great in these temps! It's super summery:) I paired those colors with cognac colored accessories: the leather belt and the wood/metal necklace. This scarf is really colorful and has a super cute pattern. Even though I seem to be holding onto summer here, I am really excited for fall to come! I can't wait to see the leaves change and fall off, wake up to chilly temps (I have a bunch of cute jackets and blazers waiting in my closet begging to be worn), and drink pumpkin spice lattes...mmmm:)


Outfit:

Sweater: J.CREW

Skirt: Gap

Belt: ?? (I've had it since high school:))

Necklace: Thrifted

Scarf: Talbots

Shoes: J.CREW


What will you miss about summer??