Kippah Conundrum

Post by Melissa

If we lived in Israel, my husband would be a  “kippah sruga” (knit kippah) — he exclusively wears knit kippot on the top of his head (and combined with his trimmed beard, really looks the part).

The thing is, he doesn’t wear just any knit kippah – he wears color coordinated ones.

He doesn’t have many clothes or pairs of shoes, but kippot – that he has quite a collection of.  It is definitely his vice and the key to his wardrobe.  He keeps them stored in two piles, one of the ones he likes and wears regularly and another of the ones he no longer likes.  When we travel, they go in their own small bag so they stay flat and don’t get creases.   He definitely keeps track of them – so over Shabbat when he couldn’t find his “brown kippah” it was quite a conundrum.  I told him to wear a different one which was met with resistance, just as I would have felt if I was looking for a specific hat or scarf and couldn’t find it.

As a woman, I have many ways of expressing myself through my clothes and accessories, but the same options just aren’t true for men.  Kippot and ties work, but what else?  Why was it weird to me that he was super insistent on this one kippah, when I can’t count the number of times I’ve searched for a specific hat, scarf, necklace or pair of shoes?  Honestly, I just think its because he’s a pretty chill and casual guy so it seems funny for him to be so fixated on an article of clothing — but why should that be my initial reaction?

How do you accessorize to show off who you really are? How does the man in your life show his personality through his wardrobe?

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17 thoughts on “Kippah Conundrum

  1. My brother is the same way. Huge collection of kippot (both knit and leather) and he matches them to his outfits.

    I had a conversation with a Chabad guy one time. He said the only way they get to accessorize is glasses, ties, and shoes (since they all wear the same kippot). He was thrilled when the guy opened up in Brooklyn who was making personalized Prince Albert coats or bekishe (the coats they wear) with colored silk lining and their names stiched in the underside of the collar.

    I think we women sometimes forget that guys don’t have the same options to express through what they wear as we women do. Though, I am often jealous of the simplicity of their wardrobe. 🙂

      • Indeed. About a year and a half ago (so midway through my junior year of college), I made the transition from owning nothing but shorts, pants and t-shirts to wearing a lot of shirts with buttons over my t-shirts. It was a simple move, but really amped up my ability to look my like an adult.

        But then I started to have color coordination problems. I was determined to avoid the problem that all of the girls and women I know have, which is that that have all kinds of things that can only be worn in one or tow particular combinations.

        So I’ve instituted a new rule: All new shirts with buttons, jackets, pants and shorts must be predominantly green (my favorite color), blue (goes will with green), brown, grey, black, white or some combination thereof. That way, everything I own matched everything else.

        And, to be honest, I sometimes wish I had more ways to accessorize. I suppose we all want what we don’t have.

    • Talia, that is why I am convinced Chabad men pull off the trendiest glasses- it’s one of the few areas of garb they can reflect their own style! (No so other lots of other chassidim who wear only uniform plastic frames.) Walking through Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights is to encounter bearded men dressed similarly in your typical black and white with the the most funky and eclectic array of eyewear! Some Lubavitchers in principle don’t wear contact lenses since the Rebbe was opposed to doing so.

      Personally, when I go to New York and spend time with Satmar, as I’ve done on several trips, I leave all my colors at home and don my my finest penguin outfit and black hat.

      But while I’m in my own turf I definitely enjoy accessorizing shirts and yarmulkas!

      • A – Can you expand on the Rebbe being opposed to contact lenses… This intrigues me! (You can do it as a post on your blog and link it back here if you want even.)

      • Yes, I encountered his position in a book Mind Over Matter: The Lubavitcher Rebbe On Science, Technology and Medicine.

        His secretary Rabbi Leibel Groner shares that the Rebbe refused to wear contacts and didn’t give approval for his chassidim to do so either, responding in various letters to his chassidim who sought his position on contacts: “It’s not worthwhile.” “Don’t use them, if possible.” “My opinion against using them is well known.” Rabbi Groner says the Rebbe didn’t differentiate between hard and soft lenses.

        However, I wish it explained the reason for his opposition, if he made it known.

        In practice, I’m met some Lubavitchers who wear them. Good thing for this case I’m not a Lubavitcher because THAT would be a personal conundrum! 🙂

  2. I have been subscribed for a while, but I don’t think I’ve commented before.

    By the way, my blog is The Reform Shuckle (http://davidsaysthings.wordpress.com, soon to be renamed The Wandering Davener) and it’s all about liturgy and ritual. And sometimes it’s about how I hate wearing kipot, but love wearing tzitzit.

    And I’m also the editor/director of New Voices Magazine/Jewish Student Press Service.

  3. Y’know, it would be a lot easier if he wore a white kippah srugah for Shabbat. Of course, he’d still want different borders to match his clothes, I suppose.

    Like many Israelis of my ilk, I get by easily. During the week, my kippah doesn’t have to match anything – though I do have several, anyway. Blue, grey, tan. On Shabbat I wear simple slacks (grey or off-brown, sometimes khaki) and a white shirt. Not very hard to make a white kippah srugah go with that! I have, I think, three white kippot with a blue border, a greenish/brown border, and black and blue border. That will go with pretty much anything.

    I also have two black kippot srugot just in case. I always thought that was stealth mode, until a non-Jewish colleague out East (who is used to seeing me with a colored kippah srugah) commented that I was wearing my ‘black formal’. Who knew? Clearly she didn’t know the politics of kippot.

  4. It’s funny, but things like this also become really true for girls when they don’t have style options! I went to a private school that required a uniform, but we were allowed to wear whatever socks we wanted with our skirts. Girls went crazy! I searched for interesting socks in every store I went in for years–mostly knee-highs, but some fun ankle socks as well. I had socks in everything from neon argile to purple with shooting stars, but my favorites had little cows with wings and halos on them. Eventually, it got to the point where I would be thrilled when stores I visited a few times a month got new shipments, because I had already purchased or seen and decided against most of the old options! Point being, people will go to amazing lengths to express themselves in whatever way they possibly can. It sounds silly now, but I can still remember the particular thrill in finding an adorable new pair of knee socks. I guess it’s the same for men and their kippot 🙂

  5. I really envy men when it comes to choosing their wardrobe. The simplicity of their tastes makes us women more complicated especially in choosing what to wear. For men, they could just go with their favorite piece of clothing and accessorize with their favorite cap/kippah or just a watch and they really don’t mind about color coordination. And it only takes them a few minutes to get ready while us girls take forever in choosing what to wear and accessorize regardless of the place we’re going to, and color coordination is a must. For me it takes my mind to work overtime in thinking which color would go with this and that and what accessories would complement my outfit.

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