The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

the first rule is….there are no rules

Posted in philosophizing, synagogue life by Juliet on November 8, 2010

Invitations are in the mail. The menu is planned, wines are paired. Hebrew is becoming passable.

Now I have a brand new thing to stress about: WHAT DO I WEAR?!?!

A group of women friends and I have the Great Pantyhose Debate. We’ve been “debating” on and off for several years now, though I’m just about ready to concede that maybe yes, there really isn’t a live issue anymore so “debate” isn’t quite the word for it.

The idea is more like me, swearing there must be places and occasions where people still wear pantyhose, and everyone else swearing just as strongly that it’s just not true.

(I did find an exception, though: an all-African American funeral for a close friend who died recently. Where there are black women in church hats, there are bound to be pantyhose.)

I have been having synagogue-related clothing agita for at least a decade. Sure, when I worked full-time as an attorney, I could just wear the same suits I wore to work when we attended services. It was a fairly safe rule of thumb that worked well for years.

Then a few things happened all around the same time.

I stopped working. I became pregnant. (I stopped working as an attorney during my fifth month of pregnancy with Eva, who is now eight. I was unexpectedly ordered onto bedrest, so I literally quit overnight.) We moved to the suburbs. I had another baby. I got older.

And to top it all off, everyone suddenly stopped wearing pantyhose.

It was like one second every stockbroker and lawyer and accountant and doctor and human resources director and public relations account executive was cracking open a plastic L’Eggs egg or carefully extricating Donna Karan or Wolford sheers from the box, and the next, NOBODY, no matter how old, or veiny-legged, or otherwise-formally dressed, wore them.

Sure, the pantyhose are still there. Walk into any Target or Walmart or Macy’s or supermarket and there will be a big aisle filled with them. What I can’t figure out is who is wearing these things, since I sure as hell don’t see them anywhere.

That includes synagogue. Even women in their 70s and 80s are completely bare-legged on Yom Kippur, the holiest and most somber day of the Jewish calendar.

I don’t object, mind you. I’m just puzzled, confused, adrift. I like RULES because I don’t feel confident with fashion so I’d rather have a predetermined path to follow.

I want to be issued my “going to synagogue” uniform to hang up in the closet next to my “weekday mom at Target” and “date night with husband” outfits.

So what’s a clueless rule-follower in an anarchic world of absolutely no rules to do?

NEXT TIME: in search of the elusive “dressy day suit,” and why my love of St John means I was born old

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3 Responses

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  1. […] [Missed Part I? Check it out here.] […]

  2. […] or Synagogue? Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on November 12, 2010 [First, catch up here and […]

  3. April Greer said, on November 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Too funny! And true! I’m not sure what to do either…I still have pantyhose in my sock drawer. I have opted to wear tights in some cases. I too am fashion inept. This post has me grinning 🙂


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