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Fashion and Beauty

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. 

Birth of fashion designer Anne Klein

August 3, 1923

Noted fashion designer Anne Klein was born.

Estelle Joan Sommers takes over Capezio

June 1, 1964

Estelle Joan Sommers, dancewear manufacturer and philanthropist, made headlines when she took over her husband's Capezio shop.

Judith Leiber handbags featured in First Lady museum exhibit

March 22, 2005

Four handbags created for U.S. first ladies by Judith Leiber, luxury handbag doyenne, were featured in a New-York Historical Society exhibit that opened on March 22, 2005.

Birth of Ida Cohen Rosenthal, co-founder of Maidenform

January 9, 1886

Ida Cohen Rosenthal, co-founder of Maidenform, the first company to make modern bras, was born in Tsarist Russia.

Estelle Joan Sommers

Sommers made her career in retail dancewear as a designer, business executive, and owner of various ventures. Since taking ballet and tap classes as a child, dance had been her passion, professionally and socially.

Ida Cohen Rosenthal

Ida Cohen Rosenthal, in partnership with her husband, not only reinvented the modern bra, but launched the company that became the world’s largest bra manufacturer.

Helena Rubinstein

My Life for Beauty, Helena Rubinstein’s autobiography, was published in 1966, a year after her death. In the introduction, her son Roy Titus called his mother’s life and work “so inseparable that a book dealing with one aspect without the other would seem incomplete.” Thus, the first half recounts “My Life,” and the second half, “For Beauty,” includes advice for achieving beautiful skin, hair, nails, and so on.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fashion and Beauty." (Viewed on December 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/fashion-and-beauty>.

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