Opinion: The Choice of Modesty in Women’s Fashion

Dorin Negrau show at Lincoln on Sept. 11, 2014, part of New York Fashion Week (Photo by j-No, Creative Commons license)

Dorin Negrau show at Lincoln Center on Sept. 11, 2014, part of New York Fashion Week (Photo by j-No, Creative Commons license)

Modest looks are in this season, according to Elissa Strauss in a Jewish Daily Forward piece that draws parallels between the latest fashion trend and the modest dress of religiously-observant women.

Clothing that provides space between skin and cloth can take the focus off of women’s bodies and, as observant women have known all along, “modest dressing is an opportunity rather than a restriction, a chance to rise above objectification and be taken more seriously as a result.”

But while Strauss suggests that this mutual element of modesty brings fashion wear and religious wear closer together – adding that “these days, more and more observant women are finding ways to meld their love of fashion with religious laws, proving that the two are not mutually exclusive” – she’s quick to underscore the stark difference.

Still there is a distinction between what downtown’s hippest are doing and what these religious women do, and it is that for the former, it is truly a choice, and no authority, male authority, will ever degrade them for it. That doesn’t necessarily make it better than religious modesty, but it is important to note the different systems of cause and effect, behavior and rewards, at play.

“The new modesty isn’t about a woman’s sexuality,” Strauss writes, it’s not about hierarchies. What is it about then? Find out by reading her article at The Jewish Daily Forward.

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