Modest fashion for the modern world

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Sarah models one of her creations

The prospect of Pesach provides the perfect excuse to revamp one’s wardrobe, so the launch of Sarah Feldman Cape Town, the Gardens Synagogue rebbetzin’s modest fashion range, could not have come at a better time. Sarah has always had a knack for combining modesty with up-to-the-minute style and is now making it easy for others to follow suit.

On a mission to debunk the notion that frum is frumpy, Sarah maintains that it is the “exact opposite”: taking care of oneself is something of a religious imperative for her and this includes being well turned out.

The daughter of a rabbi, Sarah sometimes struggled as a teenager to reconcile her love of fashion with religious restrictions. “But over time and the more that I studied, the more I appreciated the laws of modesty as something beautiful and empowering for women,” she reflects.

“You don’t need a lack of clothing to be noticed. Dressing modestly helps accentuate a woman’s inner beauty, allowing it to radiate and shine.”

Her Cape Town launch at the beginning of February caused a stir; within two days of the online site – www.sarahfeldman.co.za – going live, some lines had sold out. More recently, a pop-up shop in Johannesburg elicited a similar response.

“Throughout the day, non-stop, streams of people came by to check out the clothing,” Sarah enthuses. “So many people from a diverse range of backgrounds, both religious and otherwise, commented how much they love the clothes and how exciting it is not to have to go and sift through racks of clothing at multiple stores looking for clothing that is both modest and stylish.”

Nor has the reaction been restricted to local fashionistas. Because of the blog that she has had for years – www.rabbiswife.com – in which she paints a picture of her life as a rabbi’s wife, mother of four and homemaker, Sarah’s reach is international and in the early post-launch days she had already sent “a bunch” of dress orders overseas.

“Thank G-d the response has been amazing!’’ she says. Capetonians are welcome to view the full range — some of which is exclusive — at Sarah’s home by appointment. Additional colour options have already been introduced to existing styles and new items are in the pipeline. Each design is named for a biblical particularly apposite to the upcoming festival: she was the daughter of Pharoah who drew Moses from the Nile, raised him and converted to Judaism.

The dresses are versatile and can be dressed up, down or layered, making them a practical buy for time-stressed women of today – and that includes most of us! Sarah uses imported breathable, natural fabric for the garments to ensure the wearer remains cool — both literally and figuratively.

Sarah’s passion is to help women look and feel good, many of whom have over the years asked her where she shops and even whether she would be their personal shopper! “Practically, I thought going shopping with people was not going to work with the amount of things I need to fit into a day,” she laughs.

And so the idea of her own clothing range was born, something she sees as an extension of her lifestyle choices of healthy eating and exercise. “The more you look after yourself and feel good about yourself, the more you can be there for other people and lead a more confident, energetic, positive and productive life, which is of course how G-d wants us to live!” The philosophy is certainly in keeping with Pesach’s theme — release from the bondage of our personal ‘mitzrayim’ to the freedom to be the best version of ourselves.

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