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Good shirts and the politics of clothing
I read this hilarious article yesterday by Israeli writer, Etgar Keret, who writes about his "good shirt" that he wears to readings. Unfortunaltely the 'good shirt' happens to be orange, the colour co-opted by anti-disengagement protesters.
(pic by Lisa)
"But in times like these, times of bitter conflict and turmoil here in Israel, when the settlers and their supporters have taken over the color orange as the symbol of determined resistance to the withdrawal handing out orange ribbons and stuff to every passerby even an ordinary shirt, it seems, becomes a firm position"

Doc Martens
I remember the day in Grade 9, when I got my first pair of Doc Marten 8-hole boots. I had been coveting them for ages in the shops down Yonge and across Queen, and I already knew the implications of lace colours: red laces=neo nazi, white laces=white supremacist, purple laces= goth, and green laces meant something to do with environmental consciousness.

When I finally got the shoes (black laces, and briefly green), I felt like a sturdier, don't-mess-with-me version of myself. I even wore them to visit my grandmother, certain she would eschew their punk-ass virtues, but instead she said "looks like those shoes they gave to children with club feet!"

I stomped in them, battered and scuffed, through Europe, snickering at the Milanese morning commuters in their expensive and subtle leather pumps and their disapproving glances at my clunky feet. I even brought them to Israel, where I finally ended my relationship with my most comfortable, toughest, sturdiest shoes.

They just looked too much like army boots. And everyone there *had* to do the army and wear black boots. Who would chose to wear them afterwards?

We all know that Israel is a more overtly political climate than our own, but not since high school had my clothes represented allegiance with cliques. My punk-hippy aesthetic made no sense in Israel, so along with my docs, I trashed my long hippy skirts.They made people think I was orthodox.

The Kippa

But the kippa (yarmulke) code was the worst. My friend Carey had to trash the black velvet kippa. To him:kinda dressy and a bit goth. To everyone else: ultra-orthodox motif, only to be worn with peyot and a white, button down shirt and black pants. No one wore those silippery satin kippot you get in the bins outside synagogues.

Let's see if i remember: Right-wing orthdox of a certain group wore leather or suede. "Modern orthodox" right-wing wore crocheted kippot, sometimes with their names (yossi!) on them (knit by moms or girlfriends). At the university, lots of foreign students wore the gimmicky kippot with Simpsons motifs etc. Did I get this right?

In India, where I thought I was dressed conservatively (in what would be an Israeli version of modern orthodox garb) I was told that I needed to dress like a "proper gentlewoman" and that my ankle-length skirt and t-shirt would not do. When I finally showed up in a new Salwaar Kameez, I was congratulated and stuck with a bindi between my eyes. "There. You must wear a bindi. Otherwise you look like a widow."

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