Your Intrepid Fashion Reporter Discovers the “Aladdin”

red harem pants in Israel

Note both the pants and the elaborate head covering

“You really ought to take pictures of those women’s outfits,” said my husband. He was talking about the baggy pants of the religious women up at Nachal Hashofet during chol hamoed (the intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday). One reason most rabbis don’t allow pants because they show the separation of the leg from above the knee. The pants pictured (mostly) hide the shape of the legs until the knee, yet allowed the women to enter the nearby spring without their skirts riding up.
Green baggy pants for hiking in Israel
I showed these pictures to commenter Yosefa, who informed me that they are called “harem pants.”  So Israeli religious women from Bat Ayin didn’t invent them. Bat Ayin is a community in Gush Etzion known for its “hippy” styles.

Last week I stopped in at several of the religious stores to search for some of these pants.  One store, actually called Bat Ayin, had a few, but not as baggy, and  in tweedy materials for the fall. The saleswoman said they are called “aladdin.” I asked if she had any lightweight ones, for hiking, and she said she would order one. So far she hasn’t gotten back to me. I wanted one for a hike through the Majarassa stream near the Kinneret, which we did this past Friday.

In a different store, I was told that aladdin refers only to the very baggy styles, not the more fitted ones pictured below. The dark one by Rama, from last year’s collection, went for half-price at NIS 200.  The light one, at the Evelina store and of much lower quality, cost NIS 250.

denim harem pants for religious Orthodox women

The pants at Evelina also didn’t have a care label, which is against the law here in Israel.

In the interest of blog research, I tried on the Evelina pants.  I found the pants much more restrictive than a wide skirt. I felt like I was wearing a diaper.

These dark denim skirt/pants are more fitted under the knee.

Dark denim skirt attached below knee, by Rama

denim skirt attached below the knee for modesty.

NIS 250 at Eveline: Feels like a diaper.

When I asked my daughter if they are allowed to wear aladdinim [pl.] in her high school, she said that  the issue came up about two years ago (where have I been??). The girls may not wear them, even on school trips. It’s a slippery slope toward wearing pants, I guess.

At Majarassa, with a group from my husband’s company, the women all wore conventional skirts.

And we’ll have to talk about the elaborate scarf ties that perching a large amount of hair (?) on top of one’s head, as pictured in the upper left, another time.

Here’s a link (Hebrew) for getting the “turban” look.

You may also enjoy:

Jewish Face-Covering Women Request New School

The Burka Wedding Pictures

Official Haredi Guide to Necklines

Israeli Fashions for Religious Women

Check out the 2016 fashions at Hydrochic modest swimwear.

Comments

  1. Wow! Where have you been. I got my first pair of these during my seminary year over 15 years ago.

    There is another version of combination skirt and pants sown together.

  2. “I felt like I was wearing a diaper” – too funny.

  3. Being a Majarssa veteran, I highly recommend the “tznius bathing suit” combo. 3/4 length shirt, knee-length skirt w/ pants, and it all dries quickly. That bathing suit was not cheap but worth every shekel.

    • I got my second bathing suit from Princess Modest Swimwear this summer and I loved it. So comfortable and easy to take the kids to the pool and the beach and I looked like a normal person rather than someone wearing old pajamas.

  4. I’ve seen the headgear in the holy city of Mitzpe Ramon. I am perplexed but have not had time to discuss it with my head advisers. My very tzanua daughter-in-law wears an aladin like that but its cuffs are at the ankle.

  5. I saw the skirt with the attached pants when I was in Israel this past summer and was looking for denim skirts for my 8th grader. I contemplated getting one just to test her school’s dress code, but didn’t bother because she would never wear it. Of course, we do wear pants.

  6. My daughter’s ulpana outlawed the Aladdins about two years ago. I guess it is a “slippery slope”, but the truth is the kids who wear pants, wear pants and the Aladdins are more tzanua than some of the tight, shortish skirts some of the girls wear.

    As far as the head covering, I noticed the high piling of hair and scarf amongst young married women. How do they do that? I think they look beautiful, but I think when you are past a certain age, perhaps its wise to go with the more traditional look. I for sure, could never carry that off.

  7. Very unappealing to me. I thought skirts with pants were an Arab attire? I guess this is where environment has precedence over style.

    Does anyone drink coffee from a French Press? I am looking for a place to buy whole beans, that I can grind myself. Any suggestions?

    • Sora Deetza says:

      Nechama-
      I don’t shop much out of Ramat Beit Shemesh, but there is at least one shop here that carries beans (and will grind to order.)

    • I don’t know where you live but most of the spice and nut stores that grind coffee for you will sell you the beans unground. I can think of 3 or 4 place in Rehovot and Nes Tziyona that do. Try you city’s shuk.

    • where do you live? even some of the coffee shop chains (aroma etc.) sell them

    • These skirts/pants are all the rage in Thailand. I picked up several pairs while there on vacation! Have not seen them where we live (Beijing, China)

  8. I didn’t understand the question about the headcovering

    That is how most of the young (and want to be young), wear their scarves where we live.

    No one in your town goes around like this??

    • Keren: Not so many, no.

      • it’s a Jerusalem thing (the headcovering) I hadn’t seen it before I started watching srugim either, but now when we’re in JM If I pay attention I see it all the time.

      • Next Ortho trend to cover: Wide headbands as acceptable kisui rosh.

        • THAT you see all over.

        • Some hold that you only need “something” to indicate you are married. And many more Orthodox married women don’t cover at all. . .

          • Yes, I know, I just never saw this trend before until just over a year ago. I find it fascinating how kisui rosh has evolved, and it has less to do with halacha and more to do with what women actually do. I doubt there’s a psak that really ok’s headbands, but yet that seems to be the trend.

  9. Ms. Krieger says:

    I quite like the Aladin pants…and the name, heeheehee…

    Skirts/dressed over pants was quite the thing when I lived in Montreal in the late nineties/early 2000s. For obvious reasons (it is cold) but also the women there dress much more whimsically than other places I have lived. I do not think the trend ever disappeared – you still see chic women in Montreal wearing pants beneath skirts.

    I do not know if this is considered acceptable among the Orthodox and Sephardi Jewish communities there…I did not travel in those circles in that city.

  10. Nurse Yachne says:

    I wear the aladins at home all the time, and occasionally when I walk the dog in the wadi. I got them initially because I needed something for bicycling.

    They’re not really my style–loose baggy items look best on the thin; I’m not fat but I have big shoulders and a mesomorphic build, so I tend to look best in straighter styles, tailored rather than baggy. As my late mother the seamstress pointed out, some things are NOT best left to the imagination because the reality is often less bulky.

    Under the influence of my hilltop daughter, I have started wearing sharwallim–wide slacks–with a long tunic over top. There’s no question that it’s covered, it isn’t baggy, and it’s comfortable to wear once I get over the idea of all those layers.

    My impulses are just one step away from wearing baggy shorts and a t-shirt covered with a burkha, and there’s no “downhill” from there. The skid row of modest fashion, and my late sainted craftsman mother would be so ashamed of me…

  11. Thanks for the coffee tips. I am in Yerushalayim and did manage to find one cafe that would sell less than a kilo of beans. Coffee does require a kosher certification and many do not have it on their beans. I will try the spice shops

    I recently moved from the states and the entire tsnius attire and collection of outfits is bewildering to me. If I try to put myself into “your shoes” I can imagine that the styles are: comfortable, less expensive to buy, easy to mix n’match (which I always do albeit with more conservative attire), more expressive of inner emotions, and just plain “current style”. That said, whenever I see a large group of young women together the scene resembles a rack of ‘second-hand-used” fashions (meant as description only) all thrown together. There does not appear to be a “fashion” statement.

    Could this ‘style’ be more of a statement of dismissing the role models of the past generations, in a way that many youth are turning their backs on the ‘Torah lifestyles” of the past generations?

  12. PS on a separate topic, but timely. I read a tidbit in the Hamodia paper that suggested that zahatar oil was good for eliminating worms in children. The writer used it on hers and it did work.

    Also, I read about a Morning Glory Outdoor Shampoo that protects childrens heads from lice!

    Anyone know about these and wher to buy them?n

  13. Nurse Yachne says:

    “That said, whenever I see a large group of young women together the scene resembles a rack of ‘second-hand-used” fashions….all thrown together. There does not appear to be a “fashion” statement.
    Could this ‘style’ be more of a statement of dismissing the role models of the past generations, in a way that many youth are turning their backs on the ‘Torah lifestyles” of the past generations?”

    Some of the fashions are dictated by comfort, many seem more intrinsically Middle Eastern and less European, more Tanachi (Biblical), if you will. The first time I saw a young woman with a complicated scarf tie, I thought, “Wow, Sarah Imenu must have looked like that!”

    I think they are trying for something very individualistic, and yet modest. Think in terms of the polar opposite of the Beit Ya’akov uniform–no color, one outdated style fits no one, no area whatsoever for individual feminine self-expression in dress. Less room for deviance, but no room at all for the individual, the actualization of modesty as a function of self-repect and individualism. Did Sarah Imenu look like a nun? I think not.

    Take a look at the paintings of Abel Pann. It’s all there, the draping, the subtly colored fabric, the mystery. The young generation is striving for a kind of Eretz Yisrael look that is modest, indigenous, and authentic.

    • Ms. Krieger says:

      Your explanation makes sense – it does seem to fit. Eretz Yisrael is not Europe nor the US…it would make sense that different styles of dress would prevail. I like the idea of an “Eretz Yisrael look that is modest, indigenous and authentic.”

      Do you ever write marketing copy? 😉

  14. Fascinating post!

  15. Nurse Yachne says:

    Ms Krieger–no, I have never written marketing copy. Thanks () for the compliment.

    I am a total fashin dweeb born in between two generations of fashionistas. They dressed for success, I dress for recess, but I realize it’s not the polite thing to do.

    This Eretz Yisraeli look was coming into vogue when my daughter was in ulpana (high school) something like 6 years ago at Kfar Piness. Very charismatic religious Zionist girls from “good” families with self confidence, an eye for what looked good, and only a very limited desire to push the envelope. They were all VERY happy when Rav Aviner gave his approval to the aladin pants, and as they’ve gotten married, they have taken to scarf-wrapping with great alacrity.

    They seem to have accepted and internalized tzniut, but they don’t have the haredi passion for checking what everyone else is wearing. Besides, it’s cold out on those hilltops.

  16. Just wanted to mention another possible option for outdoor-friendly skirts for hot weather and water activities: http://www.macabiskirt.com/ (Although currently a mom in Israel myself, I brought them from the US from pre-Isreal, pre-mom days).

    Although not too into fashion, I am a big fan of being outdoors and comfortable!

    I like the blog and comments!

  17. Thank you nurse yachne. I appreciate your words.

  18. Please explain the ‘Tanachi’ (Biblical) expression of dress. And please give some sources, so I may look further into this.

    I came across a website that purports to create Biblical clothing for men and women, but it did not look anything like what some are wearing now. Personally, I think adapting a more Biblical appearance would be quite a fashion statement and appropriate for these days prior to our Geula as a Nation and a People. Some are advocating dressing like women from the early 20th C, but that also does not seem ‘biblical’.

  19. Nurse Yachne says:

    You are right, but while archeology is about historical accuracy, fashion is about image and imagination. Women of Biblical times certainly never had access to the colors and textures of the best of the Indian textile scene, and certainly not at today’s prices.

    It’s about an imaginary and romantic image, and almost certainly has more to do with the Abel Pann-Betzalel school than about anything genuinely “Tanachi”. (Somehow I doubt the historical veracity of what we call “Tanachi” sandals, as well, but the look has become classic.)

    Fashion is about self-expression, and no one would be interested in a Williamsburg-like costumed reproduction. By definition, it’s been done before.

    Haredi women’s fashion strives to look formal. Dati leumi women want and need something else, and how many years can one wear a denim skirt and a simple bandana? You might as well try to put everyone in regulation Mao jackets, and for that matter, Haredi womens’ fashion seems to have backed into that.

    Black, black and more black, and while every woman wants to believe it’s slimming, the look does get dull.

  20. I think the look is beautiful and extremely comfortable. For people like myself whom like to be modest and attractive (within reason) but which can not stand synthetic textures, itchy polyester clothing and *shudders* heels… this is a wonderful way to have a place in the world of modesty.

    I find it refreshing to have a way to look and dress in fibers which are natural without having to be seen as merely “sloppy”. As they say it’s in the eye of the beholder, my husband strongly prefers the shall we say… “hippy” look to that of a uptight business professional. it’s better suited to the type of individuals we are. we’re just outdoorsy natural people. I feel like a fraud when I overdress! It just isn’t me.

    If I saw the women walking by I’d surely stop and ask for directions to the store where they bought them from! In fact… I’m going to go look online right now! 🙂

    • Elle: I got Pima cotton t-shirts with generous sleeves via Lands’ End. The cut is not dressy, but nicer than a plain t-shirt. I love them. I’m with you on the heels.

  21. The turban kisui is the ultimate “Jerusalem thing” like pants under skirts and harem pants that are skirts. Jerusalem as a fashion capital was perfect for me, the fashionably inept, because anything goes. I reserve the turban wrap for when I want to feel Yerushalami and fancy but it can be heavy for everyday. If you have a lot of hair to wear up it works well, otherwise you just keep wrapping the long rectangular tichels around until you get the turban effect (I use 1 base and 2 for effect). Your Hebrew tutorial works well or head to Bat Ayin and ask the first young married woman you see how she does it. Jerusalem and the Gush are sort of the last strongholds of fashionable hippie tzniut.

  22. Luvskirts says:

    Hi! I love this idea! Does anyone know if they are being sold in the US in New York? I used to live in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY and there were a lot of clothing stores there?

    Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. Fashion statements says:

    […] That said, it’s not just for the religious world, just like harem pants — known here as Aladdin pants — were first a fashion statement and then an easy skirt-pant solution for the religious […]

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