Mayim Bialik is an Orthodox Jewish woman, as well as a famous actress and neuroscientist. This photo highlights her values in tzniyus (modest) dress, as she stands on the red carpet at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guilds Awards.

Throughout the ages and amongst different peoples, dress has always been a mark of culture and identity.  It’s very important to point out that in every Jewish community, with different levels of observance, there are various standards regarding tzniyus, or modesty.  If you are learning more about, and growing in this area of Jewish observance, don’t feel forced to change your custom of dress overnight.  Your steps and decisions concerning this are of a very personal nature, and completely up to you!  All Jews are called children to a King – G-d – so we must therefore play the part of royalty.  When we say this, we mean we must carry ourselves with dignity as a noble does, and we achieve this through all areas of our personal conduct, and certainly our dress.  Today I am so happy to share with you six tips for making your adventures in tzniyus even more joyful, creative, and meaningful.


1.)  Be confident… and love yourself!

King David said in his Tehillim, “Kol k’vuda bas-melech p’nima – All the glory of a princess is within.” {45:14}

This verse reminds us that our true beauty is the inner kind.  Be confident, and proud of who you are!  Remember you have a beautiful soul, and acknowledge your inner gifts; you are strong and creative, thoughtful and feeling, caring and talented, and simply one-of-a-kind!  A girl who is in touch with her inner self, and aware of her uniqueness, is the most beautiful girl.  No matter how she looks on the outside – hair, nose, eye color or body-shape – she radiates confidence, inspires, and makes a difference.

2.)    “It’s a wrap!”

The guidelines for modesty according to halacha (Jewish law) are simple; women and girls must cover their bodies past the elbows, knees, and collarbone (plus married women cover their hair).  But who said that has to be plain, stifling, or frumpy?  Spice it up with some fun accessories!

Do you have a shirt whose sleeves just don’t reach past the elbow?  Try pulling on a colorful pair of leg-warmers until the ends overlap with your shirtsleeves, and voila!  You have a cool shirt with funky arms.

Do you wish that the collar of your favorite shirt was just a teeny bit higher-cut?  There’s nothing a scarf (appropriate for the season, of course) can’t solve!  Wind it, knot it, drape it…  Use your imagination!

3.)  Find what you’re comfortable in.

Don’t be swayed by peer pressure!  That is unhealthy.  It’s vital for you to make your own choices, and stay true to yourself.  Listen to your inner voice; she will always be able to point you in the right direction!

The real meaning of style, is your ability to personally express your uniqueness, through how you present yourself to the world.  Yes, amazingly, even your outfit  publicly announces, “This outside of mine is a reflection of my inside.  This is a peek into who I am.”

What do you want to declare to others with your appearance?  In order to express yourself in this way, you must first be comfortable with how you look.

What colors give you a positive feeling?  Wear those whenever you can, and you may feel a beneficial difference while wearing them!  Do you prefer looser, more flowy clothing, or do you feel better in more fitted styles?  Stick to whichever you feel more confident in, and avoid leaving the house in an outfit you’re certain to be uncomfortable wearing.

And one last important note:  Your body changes and grows in miraculous ways.  As time passes, your style choices may change as well.  And that’s totally okay.  You will ALWAYS be beautiful.

4.)  Clothing Cures

Give unexpected garments a new life!  They might have more potential than you think…

Do you have a dress that you used to love, but after that growth spurt, it’s now too short to be worn as a tzniyus dress?  If everything else about it is still comfortable, use it for layering!  It will give an added flair, especially if it has a cool hemline.  It can also double as a cover for clingier skirts.

How many times has the following happened to you?  You are searching through a clothing rack in the store, and you stumble upon just what you’re looking for!  You lift it up and look it all over, admiring it, until you… unfortunately discover either a crop-top, slit, or open back.  But don’t hang it back up just yet!  This can be easily remedied with a lightweight, fitted tee or shell worn beneath it.  Not so bad after all…

5.)  “Think outside the box…” literally!

I’ve almost always had a deep dislike for shoe-shopping and shoe-stores, and I’m not really sure why…  But now, I actually have some creative tips to share for shoes!

We all wish to express ourselves distinctively through our wardrobe, and shoes are no exception.  But with shoes too, you want to lean towards the tzniyus side…  (That means no five-inch heels with spikes; we also want to stay safe!)

When searching through countless boxes in the store, it may help to envision and list a few outfit ideas the particular pair will complement.  For example, those leather boots would look splendid with a long plaid skirt, belted, with a blouse tucked in.  Those ruby flats with a bow at the toe would be very nice for Shabbos to wear with a green dress (complimentary colors!).

If you are buying a pair of practical sneakers, but would like them to have a bit of pizzazz, try removing the original laces and replacing them with colored ones, or even a length of ribbon!  I found the following idea online:  If you have a pair of plain canvas sneakers, remove the laces and place masking tape over the soles’ edges.  Take colorful permanent markers and draw designs of your choice onto the canvas.  Fill an eyedropper with rubbing alcohol, and carefully release a drip at a time onto the fabric, and watch the colors blend.  This is a fun summer project.  Be careful– it can get messy!

6.)  Bonus Tip for Purim:  Don’t go as yourself.  

The above tip might initially surprise you, the reader.  You’re probably thinking “Hasn’t the gist of this entire discussion so far, been about finding your unique self, staying true to yourself, finding what fits you, etc…?”

I promise you, I meant every word I said earlier.  But I am now hinting to and encouraging you to surprise yourself!  Purim is a day of the unexpected.  Don’t be afraid to try new things!

What’s more, we learn from Queen Esther, one of the most tzniyus women in our history, that we may have untapped potential, hidden deep within.  She was pushed beyond her “comfort zone” many times, and compelled to ‘step into the shoes’ of a character unlike her natural self, all in order to bring about salvation to her people.  On this journey, she grew even greater, stronger, and finer.  We too, have inner treasure troves of personality and gifts that are just waiting to be discovered, if only we are brave enough to explore after them.  Go for it, be adventurous!  You’re full of surprises.

This Purim, try a new hairstyle, or an unusual piece of jewelry as part of your costume.  You may be met with more compliments than you think.

Smile, sing, run to do a mitzvah, and celebrate with your fellow Jews on this special day.  On Purim, we celebrate the unconquerable Jewish spirit through all the ages of striving and struggle.

Remember that as Yidden, we stand out from among the rest of the world…

I guess it’s just the Jewish fashion!