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Fashion and Beauty

The thing about rings

Upon her arrival in Israel this week, a friend of mine picked up this pretty, functional necklace.

Spanx may make panty lines invisible, but can't smooth over feminist critique

This delicious article in the Boston Globe had me pumping my feminist fist in the air! In a report on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies Women’s Philanthropy’s annual Pomegranate event held at Congregation Mishkan Tefilah in Chestnut Hill, MA, Beth Teitell reported that there were no "visible panty lines," or "VPLs."

Frum, fashion, and feminism

Jewish designers are a staple on the fashion scene – famous names like Zac Posen, Isaac Mizrahi, Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren are all members of the tribe. A few years ago, Slate even published a story called “The Rise of Schmatte Chic”, which chronicled the fleeting trend of Orthodox Jewish influence in runway fashion.

Adele Margolis, 1909 - 2009

On a frigid day last February I went to the Weston (Massachusetts) Public Library to hear my friend Adele Margolis. She was reading poems from her collection, Sometimes I Forget That I Am Old, which she published privately last fall. Because it came out at about the time one of her classic books on sewing was reissued, she has been busy with a little flurry of readings, book parties, and interviews. All in all, a satisfying way to spend the months leading up to her 98th birthday.

Polly Spiegel Cowan, 1913 - 1976

When my mother died, my eldest brother Paul said that she was the only woman he'd ever known who had an equal passion for social justice and fashion. It was true: Pauline Spiegel Cowan profoundly cared about making the world a better place, and she adored fine clothes and beautiful furniture. Although the fire in which she and my father perished destroyed their apartment and her material possessions, her legacy of political activism remains relevant and important more than a quarter century later.

Shirley Kramer Broner, 1922 - 2006

Everyone who dies leaves behind memories. My mother did us one better: she left behind her memoirs.

Mom started to write some years back, while attending Harvard University's Institute for Learning in Retirement. When she heard about a workshop on Cape Cod through Brandeis Women, she jumped at the opportunity to become part of the tightly knit group who would spark her recall. The vivid portrait she created over the next six years helped sustain her family when, on Mother's Day 2006, she lost her eight-year battle with nonsmokers' lung cancer.

The Spiritual and the Material: Wealth and Stereotypes on the High Holidays

I just came home from a trip to my local suburban mall with two friends from elementary school. The mall is looking good – the walls are an upscale beige accented with stained wood, and new stores like Coach and BCBG emphasize that those who shop here must have ample money to spend. The mall is clearly marked as Jewish, too, with shoppers wearing long skirts, kippas, or less modest clothing adorned with Jewish symbols and summer camp logos.

Teffilin Barbie and Burqa Barbie: What does it mean to dress dolls?

Barbie was created in 1959 by Jewish business woman Ruth Handler. She was an Amazonian creation: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-busted American beauty. She loved to drive pink convertibles; her wardrobe and shape-shifting abilities were astonishing. By the 80s, she was highly multicultural and had an endless variety of career paths open to her, from model to mad professor. Nothing is off-limits to ever trail-blazing Barbie, not even tefillin or a burqa.

Androgyny: progressive or exclusionary?

The New York Times recently identified androgyny as the "it" fashion trend.  It seemed to begin with "skinny jeans" -- skin-tight pants quickly adopted by fashion-forward men and women.  Unisex hoodies, coats, footwear, t-shirts, and hairstyles were soon to follow.  While women dressing in masculine clothing is old hat (the tomboy), the idea of heterosexual men dressing in feminine clothing is new, edgy, and raising eyebrows as well as questions about traditional gender norms.  

What is Jewish hair?

The buzz about Good Hair, Chris Rock's new documentary about Black hair, has got me thinking about "Jewish hair": what it is, what it means, and where I -- a straight-haired woman -- fit into this curious piece of Jewish identity. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fashion and Beauty." (Viewed on September 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/fashion-and-beauty>.

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