Black Outlook, part 1 of 2

Gentlemen, a word to you before you get married. You are not allowed to be critical of feminine dress. The only thing you are allowed to say about your wife’s turnout is “You look nice. No, of course it doesn’t make you look fat. Nothing – no, I’m not lying. Well I just said ‘nice,’ I really meant ‘gorgeous’ and ‘beautiful’ it just didn’t come out right. No, really…”

That is totally irrelevant, but I mention it because I noticed that some guys weighed in to criticize women for wearing too much black and brown back in this post (or was it another? It’s a subject that comes up often). Which is a pot & kettle accusation, as someone pointed out, unless the guys in question wear gray suits and white straw hats. But even then they really haven’t got a right to be critical. Not until they’ve actually gone shopping and tried to buy something for a woman.

Here’s what it’s like:

First you have to narrow it down to something tznius. So, that rules out about 85% of the store in the summer and spring, and 65% in the fall and winter. Once you’ve found something that fits your standards, it’s got to be a style you don’t consider completely hideous, or that makes you look fat, or that’s snug in the wrong places. When you’ve found the perfect style and cut, you eagerly sift through the rack, past the black ones, past the white ones… if you’re lucky, there will be gray, brown, and navy as well. Sometimes they throw in red or hot pink to jazz things up, or sweat-suit gray, or something equally unhelpful. And if by some miracle they have a color that falls somewhere between garish and depressing?They don’t have it in your size.

Story of my life.

Why am I whinging about this? Well, I always have to get in a clothes-related complaint during this season. I think it’s tradition by now. It’s the only time I ever completely hate the business of dressing up.

To be continued in part 2.

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67 thoughts on “Black Outlook, part 1 of 2

  1. I know! Ahh- i am always looking for colors that aren’t black. I refuse to wear black at a wedding. I have group pictures of my wedding- and literally out of 60 girls there are 2 in white, and one in brown. I am not being hyperbolic, I mean it.

    So then I look for white, or gray… because what else is classic and wont be too loud, etc. So now my entire shabbos wardrobe is gray.

  2. When I go to weddings I specifically look for the (single) girls who are NOT wearing black. One of the questions I ask whenever I get redd a potential shidduch is “does she wear all black” and if the answer is yes, mine is no. I know that it’s easier, I know that it’s slimming. But it is possible to find nice clothing in colors that are not garish…my sympathies lie with you as a shopper, but not as a dresser. Sorry.

  3. What exactly is wrong with black? I happen to LIKE black and sometimes wear it head-to-toe (but I DO own a few other colors- a pair of green shoes, some white blouses, grey and brown dresses, tops in navy, white and maroon, a purple skirt- but mostly black).
    Its comfortable, pretty and stylish- you can’t go wrong.

  4. MCP-and what colors do you, as a guy wear? Seriously, if it’s not black, it’s highly likely that there’s something wrong with it. Usually not something that can be fixed, either!

  5. Its comfortable, pretty and stylish- you can’t go wrong.

    Pretty and stylish are in the eye of the beholder, but “comfortable”? How is a black dress any more or less comfortable than the identical dress in royal blue??

  6. I don’t get why guys make such a big deal of black. I mean would they rather us look like peacocks or stuffed chickens? I look good in black and I feel comfortable wearing it – so why go with anything else?

  7. by comfortable i mean that you feel comfortable (emotionally not physically) in it- you don’t stand out, and as it was pointed out- it has a slimming effect.

  8. Sarah- There is nothing wrong with black, i just prefer a girl who shows a little bit more personality in the way she dresses. And i also prefer a girl who is emotionally comfortable with whatever she likes, is willing to stand out, and is happy with her appearance in that she does not feel the need to look that size smaller cuz she’s wearing black.

    Morah Mamela- well, right now my shirt is white, grey, and pink striped. My wardrobe includes (but is not limited to) blue, green orange, purple, pink, and yellow shirts in a variety of solids, stripes, and checks. Pants range from light grey to black, with some brown thrown in, and my socks are always colorful. Most of my suits are also atypical for the community where i live.

    yes, i am a bit of a non-conformist in the way i dress. And I’m not saying that color makes everything better, i have seen people who had no clue how to wear colors, but they would be bad dressers even if they wore all black.

    I never said don’t wear any black, but please mix it up a little! as tesyaa said, royal blue is a nice alternative, and there are plenty of other colors available too.

  9. I’m with Bad4 on this one. I hate the look of black on black on black. That’s why I hate shopping – I go and I shop and I browse … for hours. And come out with nothing. That’s zero, zip. It frustrates me to no end.

    Honestly, what’s wrong with a pastel – pink, blue, green, yellow. They are not loud. Yeah, you do stick out in the sea of black, but not in a non-tznius way. And if all the black wearers would start wearing color, no one would stick out.

    My chosson actually said something along the lines of how he never has trouble finding me in a crowd – he just looks for the girl in pink. Then again, he was wearing a bright orange tie on simchas torah, so maybe he’s not the best judge…

  10. I used to think it was something dispositional about the girl, then I realized there are way more important things in a marriage than whether she wears neutral colors, has a bump, or whatever is not different in dress. So MCP I disagree with you nixing based on color- it has nothing to do with her being a woman you would-should marry. Seems to me you have mistaken priorities

  11. I have in my possession a gold suit that I have worn to weddings. I just purchased a metallic gray one for the same occasion. But I also own 3 MAGNIFICENT black dresses as well as a black evening suit. These dresses are cut so perfectly, divinely, exquisitely, (they have sleeves as well!) and on sale to boot, I don’t care if they’re black.

    But this is something men can’t understand. My father and brother don’t comprehend what work and effort goes into shopping (like their suits just walk into their closets). Very rarely is one going to find something absolutely perfect for the right price. You have to compromise. And dresses that are cut perfectly and long enough and have sleeves and are on sale are usually black.

    So stop whining, gentlemen. I doubt you want girls in pink mu-mus. ‘Cause if you want color, you take what you can get.

  12. Harryer than them all- The fact that a girl refuses to wear any color other than black is not by itself a reason not to go out with her, but it definitely says something about the girl. I’m not talking about someone like Bad4 or Princess Leah, who wear colors when they can- i’m talking about someone like sarah (no offense) who only wears black bishita. It says something about the girls personality, and i am looking for someone a little more daring than that. Now, for all i know Sarah is a gorgeous young woman, friendly, outgoing, all of the wonderful things people make up when you ask them about a girl. But a refusal to stand out even a little by wearing color, and the fact that she feels the need to wear black cuz it brings her down one size (in appearance) shows that she is not what i am looking for. I would rather a girl who is lets say a size 8 and comfortable about it than a size 4 who is desperately trying to become a size 2.

  13. Let me just clarify: I do not “refuse to wear any color other than black” (in fact, I am currently wearing a grey top with blue sequins over a white blouse. with a black skirt, black tights and black shoes ;))- I just prefer it. I even- shocker- own a few “pastels” (though they are generally worn in the summer). I was merely giving a few examples why people might like to wear black- I personally do not wear it for a slimming effect (b”h I don’t need to) but many of my friends and family do- and they look better when they do (although that may be a matter of opinion). As I said before, I simply like the color and the way I feel wearing it.

  14. And, as a side point, there are many ways to be daring with fashion that have nothing to do with choice of color. ( for example- exaggerated shoulders, dramatic zippers, interesting materials etc.)

  15. In that case, I apologize. I hope I didn’t offend you. The owning of pastels doesn’t scream daring lol, but it’s a start at least…

    It’s not just about being daring with fashion, although that definitely does help. It’s about a willingness to be different than everyone else. But even the most daring fashion choices (like your examples) get toned down when worn in black.

  16. Don’t worry- no offense taken 😉 And I mentioned pastels because in my mind they are the complete opposite of black (and Musing Maidel mentioned them as an alternative option).

  17. Slightly a detour but MCP’s statement “I would rather a girl who is lets say a size 8 and comfortable about it than a size 4 who is desperately trying to become a size 2” fits right in with those who wear the black because it is slimming–even if they don’t need that slimming. Pray tell why would anyone who is a size 8 have to be comfortable with it, as if it were a “huge” size? Throwing around dress sizes (and expectations of what a girl’s size should be or you won’t date her) has certainly contributed to the alarmingly rising number of cases of eating disorders in the frum community.

    As to the all black, all the time, feh on it. Black in the natural world is so rare that you have to search for it to find it. We were given a rainbow world and those hues are beautiful there and when worn by humans. I don’t consider the one black suit that I own as “real” wearing apparel–it’s a costume I put on when the “masquerade” takes place in Brooklyn.

  18. “well, right now my shirt is white, grey, and pink striped. My wardrobe includes (but is not limited to) blue, green orange, purple, pink, and yellow shirts in a variety of solids, stripes, and checks. Pants range from light grey to black, with some brown thrown in, and my socks are always colorful. Most of my suits are also atypical for the community where i live.” ~MCP

    Let’s forget about the shidduch ramifications for a bit, you’re wardrobe sounds awesome! (And much like mine!) Major kudos on the colorful sock draw, I totally agree! Do you wear pocket squares on Shabbos too? (Not ones that are the same print as the tie, that would be too easy…)

    “Not until they’ve actually gone shopping and tried to buy something for a woman.” ~Bad4

    I actually went to the mall on a date recently, picked out and bought her this awesome green corduroy shirt dress…. and when she wore it her mother told her it was the best outfit she’s seen her in… (this is not a wedding outfit obviously)

    My point is, color is awesome!

  19. I have to agree with ProfK on the dress size issue. When my wife and I were first married, many years ago, we would often go clothes shopping together. She was quite thin, but still a size 8. She is somewhat larger and several dress sizes higher now, after many years and 3 children, but would still be seen as slim and not heavy. I personally find her more attractive now, physically, than I did when we were first married.

  20. ProfK, I was using 8 as an average size, saying i would prefer an average sized girl who is comfortable with it than an already skinny girl who feels the need to be skinnier. Yes, i prefer skinny girls. Call me shallow, but that’s how i like it. I’m young enough that i still have the right 😉

    Stupid Inventor, I NEVER let the potential shidduch ramifications affect what i wear. No pocket squares at this point, but I have considered it in the past.

    CS, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am sure that once I meet my wife and fall in love with her, I won’t mind if she packs on a few more pounds, but for now, I need to be attracted to her to fall for her in the first place.

  21. MCP, stop talking (or typing). You’re digging your own grave. The girls are readying their tomato supply.

  22. Let them throw as many tomatoes as they want. The beauty of being anonymous is that nobody knows who I am, unless someone picked it up from my description of the way I dress. I admit to being shallow- is that such a terrible thing? Would you marry someone you find unattractive? I am giving my personal honest opinion, everyone else can (and does) feel free to disagree.

    But thanks for the advice 😉

  23. A person is entitled to their opinion. But I would like to think that none of us here needs their false identities to make a statement. If you wouldn’t say it as Superman, no need to as Clark Kent (or it the other way around?)

    No one here is holding a gun to your head to state what you do and do not find attractive. The discussion was black attire, not waist size. But bashert matters usually end up being out of our hands, so I make a point not to be definite about something that will end up making me look stupid in the future. None of us know what we will end up marrying.

  24. Anybody who knows me personally knows my opinions on the matter, for those who know me only as MCP i say it as MCP.

    Although I was the first to mention numbers when it came to waist sizes, I only stated a preference as to the girl’s mentality on her waist size and not my preference of waste size itself (the tomatoes would have started flying much earlier had I done that). When somebody else brought it up, I responded with my opinion.

    I never definitively stated that I will not marry a girl who does not fit my current idea of attractive, but if I do, then by that point my views will have changed. My wife will be the most beautiful girl in the world in my eyes, whatever size she is.

  25. Phew 😉

    I don’t have the patience for a pocket square, doesn’t really fit with the way I dress anyways as a general rule. I like to keep it subtler than that- socks are only really noticed by those paying attention.

  26. @MCP, well do you wear a white shirt on shabbos?
    I always wear a white shirt…. so besides for the General “These Colors Go With Black,Grey,Navy” etc. coordination rules I was getting bored…. pocket square gives me something to match with on shabbos.

    Totally agree about the socks… can’t wait for it to get a bit colder so I can break out the wool ones…. ooh and sweater vests!

  27. I do wear a white shirt, but I have enough ties/socks to ensure a different look virtually every week…i don’t wear vests and don’t like the look but its your wardrobe. Enjoy!

  28. I’m pretty sure what he means is even worse- like a sleeveless cardigan or sweater. But i agree with your reaction.

  29. No, a cardigan for men is just a cardigan….

    I don’t think it’s fair to just write off an entire type of clothing…. even braces (button suspenders) can be seen in the pages of GQ as often as your nearest nursing home. It’s all in how you wear it.

    Anyways, so your look consists of a tie and socks? Sounds cool, but are you one of those spending like $100+ per tie?

    And Bad4, a lot of the sweaters worn by Mr. Rogers on the show were made by his mother, which is just awesome….

  30. As the girl who was actually at the mall with Stupid Inventor, I figured I should say something 🙂

    First off, while I do not wear black b’shita, I do like the way I look in it but am willing to experiment. I just personally prefer to keep one thing I’m wearing basic (like a denim skirt, plain pencil skirt etc.) and then tops can be colorful or something. (I do prefer solids though, I just don’t feel like patterns look good on me, though I do appreciate them.) Also, having grown up in a more right-wing area, I just find it hard to find clothing that feels “Shabbosdik” that isn’t black.
    However, I am a fan of colorful accessories…scarves are my favorite, so I don’t feel as bad having all black on if I’m wearing a purple paisley or lime green scarf.

    @MCP – I understand what you are saying, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a fair general rule. I know plenty of people with spunky, daring personalities who just happen to wear black (even if that’s most of what they wear) so making that a rule I feel like is a bit unfair. I think looking put together is most important, whether it’s black or anything else (for guys AND girls) and looking put together can be accomplished in any sort of color set.

    @Bad4 – You’d think sweater vests and cardigans could be really “old mannish” but it actually is true that it’s all in how you wear it. I actually am a fan of the “preppy but not pretentious” guy fashions. (None of those “I can see perfectly fine but am wearing those horrid glasses to be a fashion plate” folks though. Major turnoff.)

    @StupidInventor – My mother asked me this morning why I don’t wear that green dress more often. Thanks a ton. (In my defense, it’s corduroy and not cold enough yet!)

  31. There are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, any girl who dresses in all black no matter how put together she is, is either not daring enough, too self conscious about her appearance, or too yeshivish for me. Either way, that’s not what I am looking for in a girl.

  32. Right, so Mr. Rogers is forgiven. But guys our age who venture out in cardigans look like they should have potbellies and pants that hitch up when they sit down, exposing six inches of socks, just to complete the look. And I’ve seen a pretty good-looking and fashionable guy try to pull it off and fail. I don’t know how the fashion plate folks manage. I think they wear blazers on top or something with big belt buckles to sort of cancel it out. Anyway, anyone who tries to dress like a fashion model looks like an idiot anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

    MCP – you forgot the practicality excuse. Many people, men & women & Vetinari, wear black because it saves having to match things up. In fact, one of my professors even buys several pairs of whatever clothes she buys, so she doesn’t have to shop very much. Just find black pants that fit and buy three, then find a black shirt that fits and buy three…

  33. And SI, I read GQ, and i’m not saying your style is out of fashion, merely that I don’t like it and would not dress that way myself.

    As for my ties and socks, I don’t believe I have ever spent over $30 on a tie. I just know how, where, and when to shop.

  34. @bad4 well then I guess I shouldn’t mention I wear the occasional bowtie….. 😛

    @MCP, ok just making sure! Sounds good, every person should have their own style.

    @C Looking forward to seeing you in the green cord dress!

  35. why is this conversation tzanua? because it’s supposedly anonymous?

    MCP- quit while you’re behind.

    SI and C- get a room.

    pocket squares and bow ties are pretentious.

    i think this blog has officially jumped the shark, though, i’m told that happened a long time ago. you (plural) make me embarrassed to be frum.

  36. Why isn’t it tzanua?
    You may not like bowties, but that doesn’t mean there’s something halachically wrong with them. The same for the color of clothing.

    And would you be able to explain the implied metaphor in “jumped the shark”?

  37. Why is this conversation not tzanua? Did color suddenly become off-color, and I missed the memo?

    And “jumped the shark” is a TV reference; funny how colored clothing is an inappropriate topic to someone who is referring to TV shows and telling couples to get a room.

  38. lol.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumped_the_shark

    yeah, Happy Days is inapppropriate. halevai today’s TV were twice as inappropriate.

    it’s not colored clothing that i take exception to, it’s a candid, coed, shallow discussion of dress sizes and other issues of vanity and objectification of people (mostly women), and how apparently that’s an acceptable means of filtering one’s dating pool. guys, imho, it’s tasteless of you to engage in what is traditionally girl talk (not that i’m a huge fan of frivolity in general, but fine).

    essentially, it’s about as as ironic as “עוז והדר לבושה” being marketed as a sefer about צניעות and not an in-depth, voyeuristic analysis of women’s intimate attire and behavior.

  39. GP: Now you might want to look up the “get a room” reference. That may make you a little more embarrassed, or at least a little less self-righteous.

  40. i’m perfectly aware of the reference and unembarrassed by it. self-righteous or not, i’m not the one flirting in the comments section of this blog (uh, לועג לרש?). i don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume the parties in question know each other personally and can compliment each other in private (where, arguably, it means more).

  41. Sorry GP- you speak of “shallow discussion of dress sizes and other issues of vanity and objectification of people (mostly women)”. If you really cared all that much about treating women properly you wouldn’t flippantly characterize the discussion as being “traditional girl talk”- was that in any way NOT meant as an insult? Because it sure came across as one.

  42. I remember a yeshiva guy writing to the Jewish Press a number of years ago that he would socially accept a BT in his shul as long as he dressed normally and didn’t wear a multicolored yarmulka hand crocheted in Zimbabwe. After pondering this letter for a number of years I’ve acquired a number of multicolored yarmulkes and worn them proudly in shul. And I don’t give a **** who talks to me or not.

  43. Sarah- you’re absolutely right, and I apologize. I happen to be a member of the party addressed, and don’t subscribe to shallow nonsense either. I was only giving the benefit of the doubt to participants whose culture condones (enables, breeds) such communication (meant more as a dis on the culture than on the gender whose hands are tied, but that’s another post), and only thought it was okay because it came from the inside, but stand (sit?) corrected. Sorry about that.

  44. And here I was thinking that this was a pretty decent conversation, with the discussion circulating around the deeper psychological meaning of clothing color as apposed to a nuanced listing of preferred female attire. Baseless generalizations – yes. Objectification – I hadn’t noticed that one yet. And I’m of the party who should be feeling it.

    GP: The comments aren’t censored. You aren’t required to read them. And if the blog has leaped from razor-toothed fish (and I maintain that it has a long time ago) you should feel free to unsubscribe. I would hate to think anyone else was causing you embarrassment.

  45. GP- Bowties and pocket squares are definitely less pretentious than being an obnoxious (insert degenerative foul language of your choosing). If you find the comments to be less than “tznius”, stay away. As for Stupid Inventor flirting with C, that’s his right, if you paid attention you would notice that they are apparently seriously dating. If a guy ever agrees to get that far into a relationship with a girl who has an attitude like yours, then will such conversations be OK? Forget anything about Tznius, you’re attitude is Miyus (see i rhymed! :))

    The rest of us are having a friendly, intellectual, discussion. Until you came along, even disagreements were done respectfully. It’s not my blog, I don’t make the rules. But as bad4 put it so eloquently, feel free to unsubscribe.

  46. I agree with GP. This conversation would not be tznius in person, and therefor it is not tznius online.
    MCP- what if your bashert wears black?

  47. onlyme!- then I guess I won’t mind it at that point. Please, explain what makes this conversation not tznius? I would have no problem having the same debate in person, this just happens to be the forum where it was brought up.

  48. onlyme! – was your comment meant to be ironic?

    That is -denouncing the conversation while perpetuating it?

  49. Wow! Was that a (gasp) smiley face? Such frivolty…you should be ashamed of yourself. Very untznius. Maybe I’m gonna get inappropriate thoughts from the picture…Didn’t you ever here of Lifnei Iver?

    (Ed. Note- this post was intended to be written in the eagerly anticipated “sarcasm font”)

  50. MCP, you never cease to crack me up (read: laugh at, not with). And it’s not only me- see comment #22.
    גַּם אֱוִיל מַחֲרִישׁ חָכָם יֵחָשֵׁב; אֹטֵם שְׂפָתָיו נָבוֹן (prov. 17:28)

  51. Keep reading, I redeemed myself somewhat (#26). I do give some credence to her opinions, because although I may disagree often, she puts in her 2 cents in a nice way, even when she disagrees with an earlier poster. Which is why my responses to her are not heavily dosed with sarcasm and contempt.

    And as 2nd grade as this sounds, speak for yourself darling…

  52. Okay children: We pride ourselves on keeping it civil around here. So your options are to shake hands an apologize or I close the thread to further commenting.

  53. That was a royal “we” as in “We are the blog.” If you want controversy and rage, there’s the rest of the blogosphere.

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