Citrin-Safadi has also gone this route. She used to wear long skirts, black turtlenecks and purple T-shirts. The combination is intangible and too messy to feel intentional. As the old accessory decree dictates, “I had to lose one thing.”
She was even luckier in footless leggings—the workhorse of Teacher Torah’s aesthetic wardrobe . “I’m obsessed with wearing long dresses with those leggings, and then I’ll put on a kitten heel so there’s only this skin left — the ankle or a small part of the foot,” she says. “It turns an otherwise innocuous area of skin into something else while the rest of me is covered. It just satisfies me and gets dressed. It hits the mark.”
Medine Cohen took a little longer to get the look. “I can’t participate,” she wrote. She was too close to her own high school experience. But in the last two or three seasons, her thinking has ushered in a change. Both she and I find ourselves preferring the midi skirts we once swore to ditch. Medine Cohen credits Khaite and Prada for her progress, noting that both brands favor skirts over dresses, and that they also use crisp, flattering fabrics.
At her own label, Kallmeyer keeps her clothes from looking too shabby with care, slits, and lots of texture. The exercise is informative and rigorous. It is an argument and an exploration of boundaries, not unlike biblical interpretation itself. The Torah-teacher aesthetic is less a trend than a puzzle: how to channel it without making the wearer look like someone who was a few minutes late to a Talmud class?
Now it makes Citrin-Safadi smile, thinking back to her Hebrew school in suburban Connecticut, where she grew up in a town with few Jewish families. At weekly pick-ups, it’s the moms — practitioners of their own version of Torah’s teacher aesthetic — who make the most lasting impressions.
“It’s this 12 moment for minimalism—a Calvin Klein dress and a Donna Karan cotton top—with the appropriate Things overlap to go to the temple,” she said. “I’m and I saw them and they looked so cool. I was like, this is so fucking chic.”
“It has an emotional undertone for me,” she said. “We could call it nostalgia, but I don’t even think that’s the right word. I prefer, you know? I’ve earned it. I’ve earned the right to dress like this. I’ve done it.”