Ask Aviva: Fashionable and frum

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Dear Aviva,
I’m not sure if I have a problem or not. My friends and a few random strangers are making me think that I do. I like to be different. So when I go to a simcha, I don’t want to blend in with the typical black dress. I like color and flair, and unique clothing and accessories. I like to be noticed. I always dress tzniusdik, but I know that I stand out. My husband has no problem with how I dress, but my friends make comments that I should dress softer, and I do see people whispering and looking at me sometimes. Do I have a problem?

-Flamboyantly Fashionable

Dear Flamboyantly Fashionable,
It sounds to me like you don’t think this is a problem, you just feel that others may think it’s a problem. So you don’t really have a problem with yourself, you just are starting to notice that others notice you.
If you like to be different and stand out, an occupational hazard may be that you get pointed at and whispered behind at times. If that suites your fancy, then continue dressing as you are dressing.
But if you prefer your fashion statements to be rhetorical statements, then you may want to tone things down a bit. For example, to use my brothers’ rule of dress—that was not a typo, by the way. I said “brothers’” not “sisters’”. Something changed within the past ten years in my family. Now the brothers harp about socks, ties and pocket squares, and the sisters are a bit tired of this sort of talk. Is this normal?
Back to you. My brothers’ rule of dress goes something like this: two plains and a fancy.
Which means, two out of three things you wear should be nondescript, with the third being more interesting. Now if you would feel too much like a conformist with that, play around with the ratio a little. But keep in mind the goal of toning down. If you want the bright lipstick, maybe the patterned tights and feathered earrings are too much.
I find it interesting that you have two opposing sides influencing you. You put effort into covering up (you said you dress tzniusdik), and also put effort into standing out. What does each one mean to you? Why? Which one is more important to you?

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