Everyone wants to find the person they date – and eventually marry – attractive, right? The shadchan is always told to find a “knock out” or a “good looking guy.” Never have I heard of anyone asking for or wanting someone looking like a “schlepper.” But what if one of the attributes that attracted you to the person in the first place ends up worrying you as the relationship progresses?
I’ve been dating a great girl for a while. We have been out several times and I’m really enjoying myself. But now I think one of the things that attracted me to her may be an issue.
The girl, Malka, is tall, attractive, and dresses great. She is stylish, but in a tz’nius way. Her outfits are colorful and form-fitting. I noticed her right away when I went to the Starbucks where we had arranged to meet for our first date. I was hoping the girl in the blue dress was the Malka that I spoke with on the phone, and I was thrilled when it actually was her. She doesn’t have an overly frum look to her. She can probably blend in with any American non-Jewish-looking girl. I don’t think she would be labeled as “a frum Jewish girl” with the way she dresses.
Now that we have gotten to know each other and have spent a lot of time with each other, I’m beginning to feel that her outfits and style are getting noticed by a lot of people. While in a restaurant on one of our dates, the waitress complimented Malka on her shoes. Another time, I caught a couple “checking out” Malka and what she was wearing. I’m getting uncomfortable with the attention that she is getting. Maybe Malka chooses outfits that are too form-fitting or too colorful or too trendy. I don’t know. But I know that her clothes match her personality. She is a colorful person, interesting to speak to, has an out-of-the-box job, etc.
I may be reading too much into the whole clothes issue, but it is bothering me a little. Should I ask Malka to tone it down with the clothing? She would look good wearing anything – a plain shirt and skirt. I’m already hooked on her. What would you say if you were asked to tone down what you wore?
Thank you for your letter, Naftali.
Strangely enough, I had this experience while dating, which I think I wrote about once or twice. I went out with someone a couple of times, and right before the third date, the shadchan called and told me that the fellow told her that he likes the way I dress, except it reminds him of girls from Flatbush, and because he had a “bad breakup with a Flatbush girl” a few months earlier, the fellow asked her to ask me if I could “wear plainer clothes.” I kid you not. At the time, I sort of liked this fellow, so I tried to comply with his request. I wore a red ribbed turtleneck and a black skirt with a belt and boots. It was the plainest outfit I was able to put together. At the end of the date, the fellow asked if the shadchan had called me and spoke with me about my clothes. I told him that she had, but I didn’t know what a “Flatbush girl” dressed like, and I didn’t think my fashion choices were over the top. The fellow then had the chutzpah to tell me that I was still over the top in my choice. “What? This is a plain top and skirt,” I remember saying. He told me that my high-heeled boots and outfit fit into the Flatbush category. I really didn’t understand. I told him that all of my shoes have heels and the only flats I own are sneakers. He asked if I would consider buying some new plainer clothes. WHAT?! I told him that he seems to be the one with a fashion issue and I couldn’t help that I dress like a “Flatbush girl.” I also told him that a lot of time and effort was put into all of my fashion choices and I love my clothes. I concluded by saying that unless he wanted to pay for my new wardrobe, I wasn’t going to buy anything new just to please him. “How does a Queens girl dress?” I asked.
Naftali, the point I am trying to make is that Malka dresses for herself. These clothes were tried on and bought long before she met you. Have you heard the expression, “the clothes make the man?” Well I’ll give you another expression, “Pretty clothes make girls feel good.” Malka is dressing for no one other than herself.
You said it yourself: One of the attributes that attracted you to Malka was her sense of style, and now you’re telling me that it may be the downfall of your relationship? You said that she dresses in a tz’nius but fashionable way. Do you want her to wear the plain turtleneck and belted skirt like I did? I felt like a dying flower in that plain outfit! Malka will probably wither and shrivel if you try to make her into Plain Jane. You mentioned that her clothes match her personality. How do you think Malka would react if you told her how you feel? Maybe you should discuss this with her. There is no “winning” with this issue. If Malka continues to dress the same way, you will feel uncomfortable. If Malka changes her dress, she may feel uncomfortable. If one wins, one loses and this is not an issue someone needs to be the loser on. There may be a compromise here. Speak with Malka.
Hatzlachah to you all.