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Why Must Jewish Women Wear So Much Black and Gray?

Not honoring your own voice begins to erode who you are and what you have to offer in this world.

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Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

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So you and your husband get stranded on a deserted island. Your clothes are tattered. Everything besides what you’re wearing is lost at sea. You need to go shopping. No one is going to see you, but of course you’re going to need to dress tzniusdik and even in the spirit of the law regarding tznius.

In the distance you see a structure. As you come closer, you see that it is a building. You walk in and lo and behold it is an abandoned women’s clothing store. Not only that, but as you look through the clothing you realize that everything there is absolutely tznius and in style. WOW! This is like Gan Eden and it’s all free.

Be totally honest, which section of the store would you go to? Would the black and white with a few shades of grey section immediately catch your eye? Would you almost not be able to contain yourself with the mere thought of the fun of matching so many different shades of black?

How surprised would you be to find yourself more attracted to the section with a diverse selection of colors? Would you start getting creative with matching different colors and trying on all sorts of different combinations or would you stick to black and white and feel like that is perfect and a true reflection of yourself and your taste?

My hunch is that the majority of women would choose to look at all the different colors and try on numerous creative outfits until they find what they feel really suits them and fits their personality. I do also think that some women would go to the black and white and some shades of gray section. Not because they feel like they have to go there, but because they really like it. That is more than perfectly fine. But again, for most women I believe they would go to the colorful section.

So now I ask you; what section do you go to in the store when you go clothing shopping? Don’t answer that, but do ask yourself which sections you pass up that you really want to go to. So why are you going to the black and white with a few shades of gray section?

My wife tells me that black makes people look slimmer. Is that the reason? I can hear it, but I don’t think that’s the prevalent reason. Is it because of a tznius issue? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, my hypothesis is that you go to that section because everyone else is going to that section. If you were to go to the colorful section, you would stick out and not be part of the system any more. It has gotten to a point where many women have been doing this for so long that they can no longer even get in touch with the part of themselves that wants to wear something colorful.

Hashem created such a beautiful world. The Gemara says there is no artist like Hashem. Look at the way Hashem chose to express Himself in the world. It is so vibrant and full of color. Look at the trees, the animals and the birds. There is nothing more exotic, diverse and stunning. Even when creating people, Hashem was so colorful and creative. Every single person was created different with different tastes and personalities. Women were created with a sense for beauty and aesthetics. Men only get as far as feebly attempting to match a tie to their suit.

When you buy flowers for Shabbos, do you buy black and white flowers with some grey ferns? How would you sensitively tell your husband that the next time he buys you black and white flowers, he’s doing all the cooking for Shabbos? What colors do you choose for bar mitzvahs or weddings? How about furniture and carpets? How did you dress your daughter before she began dressing in black?

What made you switch from pinks and purples to dressing her in black on black with black shoes? Do you connect more to the joy of dressing her at a young age or to the way you have to dress her in 6th grade? It is truly amazing that wherever you turn, you’re choosing all different types of colors, but when it comes to clothing, your taste suddenly changes to black and white with a few shades of gray. Does this bother you?

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82 Responses to “Why Must Jewish Women Wear So Much Black and Gray?”

  1. Chava Canales says:

    Wonderful article from a woman who wears mostly all colors. Thank you!

  2. Sandra Swerdlov says:

    that's why I won't wear like this ;-)

  3. I agree that we all must wear nice colors as it was HaShem's that created the Rainbow with all the colors … so why use only two??

  4. Didn't read the article yet, but I happen to be seeing more color lately. Hopefully the trend will be getting more colorful :)

  5. Bill Kushner says:

    what concerns me most is that i believe that most of the ladies wearing only black and grey are just doing it because everyone else is doing it. In other words there really is no philosophy to it whatsoever. The herd mentality is dangerous to our spiritual health. at least thats my opinion

  6. It’s really none of your business what they choose to wear.

  7. Aviva Fort says:

    I'm a metalhead and I like frikkin' black – and anyway, men shouldn't really be talking about other women's clothes :Pppp

  8. Aviva Fort says:

    Yochana Chava Sandler fine ok 100% but this stuff is for a woman to write about – not a dude….anyway many frum women around here dress like colorful hippies

  9. Yochana Chava Sandler says:

    around where? are you in Nachlaot? or Tzfat? I was in Brooklyn walking down the street with 3 friends (ok you might call them hippy-ish) and some frum girl came over to us and said- are you from Israel? we were like huh? why? she said bcs you are wearing colors! made me sad.

  10. Yasa Leah Borensztejn says:

    Colorful hippie, yup that's me!

  11. There was a Rav who said that the reason we have techeilet in tzitzit is that color provokes passions and feelings, and so we're supposed to feel passionate about mitzvot. I believe it's the same with tzniut. If you love black and gray and they reflect who you really are, then that's fine, but if you're just wearing those because it's the "uniform," then you are violating the spirit of tzniut. I love black, but I also love colors (I hate gray), and I love that I'm not wearing a "uniform."

  12. Yosef Zamler says:

    They do it to dress modestly

  13. Josh Becker says:

    "Every single person was created different with different tastes and personalities. Women were created with a sense for beauty and aesthetics. Men only get as far as feebly attempting to match a tie to their suit."
    Wow. thanks for letting us know the "different personalties" of genders in a nice little nutshell of a generalization.
    "You will be followed if you do. Your children will find shidduchim and people will respect you." Wow.
    While I (obviosuly) agree with the point of this article, it's really something that this point even HAD to be made. This article has amused me. Thanks for that.

  14. Sarah Thien says:

    Is black supposed to be more modest than other colors? I thought it was about fit and amount of skin showing

  15. Aliza Feinstein says:

    Black is beautiful

  16. Shira Chana Fichtenbaum says:

    It is said black is a color of humility ….being humble ….

  17. Yael Tesler says:

    supposedly attracts less attention than bright colors

  18. Josh Becker there are way too many things wrong with this article

  19. Arnie, you're awesome. I'm missing Ester Nechama. I can almost picture what her reaction would be to this article and your words.

  20. Robin Hirsch says:

    I think its all coordination. The men wear black and white only. Also everything matches black and white. But seriously the ultra frum do it to not draw attention but young women wear all different colors especially at chassunahs

  21. Rachel Margolin says:

    imagine what could be accomplished in the world if just a fraction of the energy spent obsessing about what women wear was spent on something important

  22. NewAge Hasid says:

    Once you go black you never go back…

  23. I wear colors, but I respect that others don’t. if its their choice to do so, why be devisive and cause it. your own voice begins to erode? Some women who are so modest, are very very creative in other ways. did you really need to write about something? Think of something else more useful.

  24. Black is also the most slimming color, the most versatile color, the easiest color, etc. And it's the best backdrop for great jewelry. But if you're going to wear it, do it because you love it for any of the above reasons, not just because it's the "uniform."

  25. Leta Lenik says:

    I am a former fashion coordinator for fashion shows and I have a lot to say about this. Women wear black because they think it makes them look thinner. That's really it. Of all colors, traditionally, black was viewed as a wealthy person's color. It took a lot of expensive dye to get clothing black and only the wealthy could afford it.
    Black only absorbs light. It has no reflective qualities and does absolutely nothing for your complexion. It also has a very flat look in pictures and can actually make you look wider. Wearing a color, which complements your skin, at least next to your face, makes you look better. We all know which colors we feel and look better in. In fashion, wearing a flattering color is the difference between someone saying "You look great!" as opposed to "I love your outfit."

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