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Art

Dress to Impress Yourself

I set the water on my stove to boil and flicked on the kitchen radio, which was, as usual, set to NPR. The announcer was giving an update on the ebola crisis, now listing fatalities from a recent accident, now discussing the stock market—I changed the channel. I’d had a long enough day already and had no desire to sit and listen to the ongoing string of bad news. I flipped through channels until I hit a pop station that wasn’t in the middle of a commercial break. As I pulled out plates and pasta sauce, a new song played in the background.

Fashion, Feminism, and A Winter Formal

In my hometown, December means more than just early evenings and the optimism  of an impending winter break. It takes on significance beyond any of the holidays, concerts or changes in the weather. Instead, December means Cotillion, the prom-like event that has groups of high school students talking endlessly of dresses and limousines, pre-parties and after-parties, and definitely not the etiquette that the dance is supposed to teach. 

Corset On, Corset Off

For most of my life, my fashion sense has been dictated more by what I don’t want to wear than what I do want to wear. Socks with seams? Nope. Tight jeans? No way. Itchy sweaters? Out of the question! I feel almost nothing towards clothes, and when I do feel anything, it is usually frustration at tedious trips to the mall and or the seamstress shop. Sure, I enjoy looking “good.” But I have never really had any idea what “good” actually means.

Fashionably Frustrated: Confessions of a Shop-o-Phobic

I was leading the feminist crusade toward an era where women would be judged not by the cuteness of their clothing but the content of their character. I, clad in ill-fitting yet fully functional attire, was the ascetic monk of the religion of Not Caring What Other People Think.

“ . . . So Then I Started Wearing Army Pants and Flip Flops”

It was sixth grade when I started to feel like a child among women. Up until that point my wardrobe had consisted mostly of gaucho pants, t-shirts, and Converse sneakers, which suited my perfectly boyish body. But the dreaded halls of middle school eventually caught up with me and walking into school the first day I was caught up in a flurry of flowery perfume, tight leggings clung to early curves, lip gloss, and straightened hair flipping over shoulders. Hormones were raging and silly crushes became relationships while“hook up” was introduced into my vocabulary.      

Rebecca Lepkoff, 1916 - 2014

I always thought I would meet women like Rebecca Lepkoff when I moved to NYC in 1980, but it wasn’t until 1992 that our paths crossed. I was working at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at the time, fascinated by the Lower East Side and its hold on the historical imagination of New Yorkers and Americans. Susan Fleminger of the Henry Street Settlement knew Rebecca and thought we would get along famously, and she was absolutely right. Rebecca’s photographs covered the exact time period of my work. I fell in love with her photographs and we became friends.

Birth of Victorian painter Rebecca Solomon

September 26, 1832

"That Rebecca Solomon was among the first Jewish women artists, if not the first, makes her career and artwork even more important.”

Sally Milgrim

Sally Milgrim flourished not only as a successful department store owner but as one of the foremost fashion designers of her day, creating gowns for Broadway stars and First Ladies alike.

Ellen Lehman Mccluskey

Interior design maven Ellen Lehman McCluskey shaped the look and feel of some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and businesses, including the Plaza, the Waldorf–Astoria, and Regency hotels.

Fashion: A Double-Edged Sword

When I shop for clothes, I try to purchase tops that are not exceedingly cropped, low-cut, or sheer. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been excited about a cute dress or shirt, only to flip it over and find that the back is completely cut out. This is disappointing, but it also makes me question my own tendency to judge the Girl with the Crop Top. If the majority of clothes at the mall are cut out, cut-up pieces of fabric, it might not be fair to judge consumers for buying what is being sold.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Art." (Viewed on December 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/art>.

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