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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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A current TV commercial (I don’t actually remember what was being advertised) depicts a lively, attractive 20-something woman, dressed in a conservative top, getting ready in the morning. We see her pick up a lipstick, pause, and decide not to apply it to her lips. She then walks outside to a large porch and leans against the railing. A neighbor walks by and it is clear they are practicing social distancing. The young woman returns inside and sits down at her computer as if to start her workday. It is then, as she bends her knees, that the viewers see she is wearing her pajama pants. This commercial would have made no sense a year ago. Yet now it speaks to so many of us.

The moment where the young woman decided not to use lipstick really resonated with me. I have been in that situation countless times in the past several months and have made the same decision. Why would I want to get lipstick on the inside of my mask?

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Since I often help clients organize their makeup drawers or boxes, I was curious to know details of what makeup women are buying for the fall season. Am I correct that fewer lipsticks are being sold? I contacted Rebecca Geltzer, a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant. Rebecca told me for younger customers Mary Kay is selling “waterproof lip liners and both long lasting lipsticks or balms and glosses. Her more mature customers are choosing more lip balms and glosses so lips don’t dry out. Women still want to take care of their skin and put on makeup. Women are more focused on eye makeup and skin care but many want the full look even if it’s just for themselves. Also, with no more trying on makeup at the department stores, our customers are very happy that we (Mary Kay) can send them samples.” (To contact Rebecca Geltzer and experience her makeup expertise, visit marykay.com/rgeltzer.)

Getting back to the character in the commercial, the woman was dressed for work from the waist up. I hear from friends and other wardrobe stylists that this is de rigueur. If we are not in pajama pants or sweats and slippers behind our computers, we may be in jean skirts and athletic shoes. Many people do not have to go back to their offices for several months. When they do go back, will they again want to dress up or will they want to stay with their comfortably casual wardrobe?

Then there is the very serious question where will we shop now that stores such as Lord and Taylor are going out of business and other beloved stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Banana Republic and Gap are greatly reducing the number of their brick and mortar locations. Of course, we can shop online and take the chance that things will fit. If they don’t fit, what sort of hoops must we jump through due to coronavirus? To be fair, some retailers have adjusted their return policies by giving us a longer period to send back our unwanted purchases, but we may be waiting longer for our money to be returned due to understaffing at warehouses.

With very few if any simchas to attend, people do not need to buy more elegant clothing. In fact, there was an article on just this subject in The Jewish Link. Titled “Shabbos Robes and Maxi Dresses Meet on Social Media,” writer Bracha Schwartz said that, “elegant clothing took a hit when the pandemic cancelled group social events, so, the featured designer mentioned in the article, began seeking a balance between not-too-fancy and beautiful.” What a wise move! We may be spending Shabbat morning inside a synagogue, on a black top or in our homes; nevertheless, we want to be wearing beautiful clothes that are not seriously dressy or fussy.

Some of us have been fortunate enough to have been invited to weddings this summer in far off places like Israel and Toronto, or within our own communities and that, of course, meant attending via Zoom. How many of us have dressed for it? My husband and I were invited to the wedding of the daughter of very close friends. I told my friend I would get dressed up as if I was attending the wedding. During the wedding, while we chatted with the master of the Zoom room and other guests, we noticed the others were dressed very casually. When my friend saw that my husband and I dressed up, she was so touched. Wearing my simcha clothes (from top to bottom) put me in the right mindset to celebrate with my friends. I will do it in the future and I highly recommend it!

This period of staying casual may be a blip or it may be a permanent change. No one knows yet. If I were your personal stylist, I would advise you not to make any rash decisions of giving away or reselling your elegant clothing or fussy pieces. I would suggest you merely move them to the back of your closet or to another room. If you have high-end items in excellent condition that you are sure you are ready to part with and you want to resell, there is good news. According to Julie Wainright, the founder and CEO of RealReal, an online marketplace for authenticated, luxury consignment, “Brands are rethinking production and the afterlife of what they create. Engagement with resale is hitting an all-time high and it’s helping pave the way to a more sustainable future for fashion.” Wainright continued that now is a good time to resell understated designer bags and jewelry.

As your personal stylist I would end our session by emphasizing that more than ever before we should all feel free to wear what makes us feel beautiful, strong and positive.

What will you wear for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? Will it be something new you bought online? Or did you venture into stores, carefully try on clothes and make a purchase? Or will you be wearing your favorite outfits from previous seasons? Please email me at [email protected] I would love to know how my readers are holding.

P.S. An update on last month’s discussion of choices of washing machines. While Shepsi and I attended our obedience training class at PetSmart, my husband stepped away and went to a nearby major appliance store and bought a washing machine that was one of our top contenders. It was delivered a week and a half later. So far, we are loving it. Yes, Shepsi did get a chance to play with the delivery men.


Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s kosher organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 13 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary consultation at [email protected]

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