Don’t talk to Jessica Orbach, aka Lady Blaga, about fashion rules. The Englewood mother of four knows style and what works. “A lot of rules imposed in decades past should be thrown out the window,” she said. White shoes after Labor Day? Go for it. “I have a pair of white boots I just wore during Fashion Week in New York.”
Just what is she doing at Fashion Week, when designers descend on New York to show their new collections? Orbach is invited as a sought-after blogger and fashion influencer. Fashion companies send her outfits and pay her to post photos of herself on Instagram wearing them. She has 56,000 followers from all over the world who look to her for inspiration. Her fans include moms and men.
Orbach, who grew up in West Orange, said she has always had a sense of style. “In high school I used to drive to garage sales, vintage stores and consignment shops. My favorite shirt in high school cost 25 cents.” The one rule she follows, most of the time, is that style is not dependent on price. “I buy less expensive clothes but use them in an interesting way,” she said. “If you have innate taste and style, you don’t need to open your wallet that much.” What about those of us who don’t have that talent? “Look towards the people that you want to emulate; copy what they are doing,” she recommended. If there’s someone you admire on social media, you can take tips from them.”
While Orbach dresses in a more modern way, she understands the needs of women who want to be modest. “Longer skirt lengths are now cool; stylish religious women will look great no matter what.” She loves the look of tucking a t-shirt into a long skirt and wearing it with a wide belt. A boxy boyfriend blazer adds another stylish touch. Kimonos are also stunning and modest. “I have a great collection of full-length kimonos—they’re a great way to be tznius.”
Layering should be done correctly, Orbach advised, not just putting a long sleeve shell under a sleeveless dress. “Better to take a sleeveless dress or top and put a button-down shirt over it, roll up the sleeves, half-button and belt it.” She’s loving the monochrome look from head to toe. “A long skirt with an oversize sweater is a fabulous look, especially in one color.” The right accessories make an outfit regardless of skirt, neck and sleeve lengths. “Creative accessories can transform a modest outfit,” says Orbach.
There are ways to experiment, if you want to try new looks, while still staying in your comfort zone. “It won’t look good if you don’t feel good,” Orbach cautioned. She loves the look of neon. But someone who is more conservative might try just one neon item—gloves, or purse, or even shoes.
The transition from stay-at-home mom to style icon came about four years ago. Like many women, she faced the realization that her kids were getting older, and she needed an outlet for her creativity. But don’t call it a mid-life crisis. “You’re supposed to wake up and think about these things.”
Orbach knew she needed to take a different path than most of the people around her. Her children’s music teacher suggested she take classes to become a DJ, and she started entertaining at a wide variety of private and corporate events. A friend, who eventually became her manager, admired the way she dressed. Together, they created Lady Blaga, a blog that lets Orbach write about style, recipes and ideas. Instagram became the place to showcase fashion. The combination of music and style has given her a more unique identity that gets noticed by brands who want to reach her fans with their clothes. And in the blog, she can riff on the existential challenges of life as well as colors and spices.
And that’s another rule she has chosen to break. “A friend who has a successful worldwide business told me to focus on one thing. Not me. The more you share, the more you build your life.”
Follow Jessica Orbach on Instagram @lady_blaga and visit www.ladyblaga.com.
By Bracha Schwartz