Meet the Orthodox Jewish Millennials Who Pioneered the Slow Living Trend
Slow living: where traditional meets modern.
As the slow living trend takes millennial culture by storm, there is a group of women who are already experts at blending traditional and modern elements with ease. Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair after marriage using wigs, scarves, hats, or headbands. While wig sellers are innovating their designs to create the flattest, most seamless, and believable wigs yet, many women are still choosing to honor the time-held tradition of covering their hair with scarves.
The slow living lifestyle is a mindset where one curates a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle. This trend, along with the wave of coastal grandmother and geriatric style choices, has many people returning to more traditional styles. For two fashion-driven Orthodox Jewish women in Brooklyn, blending the modern and traditional is the bread and butter of their personal styles.
Slow Living: Traditional Meets Modern
Mussie Epstein, style and image consultant and resident of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has always loved a more vintage and modest-leaning style. Growing up in an ultra-Orthodox home, she knew with certainty that she would cover her hair after getting married. Epstein never really questioned it, viewing it as a sort of rite of passage.
I don’t necessarily feel so connected to how I used to cover my hair with a wig when I first got married.
As someone who thrives on the idea of community, she always felt a deep respect for the tradition and didn’t doubt that she would one day cover her hair. In the beginning, she says that she really enjoyed the tradition, but has seen her practice of it evolve over time.
“I still feel that the tradition is beautiful and I see meaning in it, but I don’t necessarily feel so connected to how I used to cover my hair with a wig when I first got married.” Epstein prioritizes comfort in her style, and she doesn’t find that wigs offer the comfort she’s looking for. Instead, she turns to caps, scarves, headbands with a partial wig, and handkerchiefs.
Toiby Hayes, a modest Brooklyn-based fashion blogger, and Tik Tok star practices her Judaism with intentionality. While the reasons given for hair covering after marriage don’t strongly resonate with Hayes, she says that her love for Judaism and desire to be part of her community drive her practice.
I explore the way I cover my hair and wear things that make me feel like my authentic self. It helps me to know that there is room for me to be me.
“It’s important for me to feel like I’m not losing myself in a relationship with God,” Hayes says, “So I explore the way I cover my hair and wear things that make me feel like my authentic self. It helps me to know that there is room for me to be me in this relationship.”
Hayes wears different kinds of wigs, beanies, sun hats, berets, big scarves, and silk scarves, choosing from these options depending on what feels right that day.
Modern Hair Covering Trends
Epstein has noticed that hair covering trends have started leaning towards a more practical approach.
“Even in the wig industry,” she shares, “everyone is trying to find the lightest, most natural-looking wigs that are comfortable for all-day wear. In terms of individuals in the community, I think the women who I’m surrounded by who are really into fashion and style are leaning towards doing things that feel more real and align with them.”
When she first got married, Epstein wanted a super glamorous long wig but now she finds herself leaning into her fine and short natural hair in an effort to feel more like herself.
Hayes says that she sees Jewish women exploring traditionally hijabi forms of scarf-wearing, and incorporating modern accessories like different types of hats and bandanas into their hair covering rotation.
While she believes the foundation will remain and there will always be those who wear wigs and traditional scarves, this exploration is leaving room for the non-traditional to find their footing and feel at ease expressing themselves.
Blending Personal Style and Tradition
“I think that the more aligned I become with myself, the more reinventions and changes I go through in my style,” Epstein shares. “I’m finding that the more comfortable I become with myself, and who I am, and my personal style, the better my looks become because I’m much more aligned.”
Staying relevant in a world of changing trends is all about the little touches that elevate the wearer’s core personal style, Epstein says. “It’s not so much about a full reinvention but rather I’ll get excited about current trends that I align with and I’ll use that to elevate my core personal style.”
While the somewhat insular Orthodox Jewish community can create a sense of pressure to maintain traditions in a particular way, the modern generation is finding a way to maintain tradition without sacrificing their personal style.
Hayes shares that she has internal boundaries when it comes to dressing modestly she leaves them open to shifting over time. She doesn’t have to wonder if she will lose herself to her tradition, or her tradition to the world because she has set those boundaries. This allows her to explore new trends and styles and take inspiration from the runways and consider how she can incorporate those trends into her own looks.
The Future of Slow Living
Epstein views fashion trends as a turning wheel, and as a cycle where trends come and go. “If this trend does phase out, it will come back,” she says. “Fashion goes from super-sexy barely-there for a while and then we come back to this coastal grandma, slow living trend. The trends are like a wheel where even if something goes out it will always make its way back.”
Vintage pieces from our past will always be somewhat relevant, Epstein says. She is confident that there will always be people who are fascinated and interested in that and those who will seek to put their own imprint on classic trends.
Like with all trends, some people will stop by for a minute and end up finding they feel their most authentic self here and that will be that for them.
“This slow living trend is this desire to go back to more wholesome times,” she says. “Back when not everyone was so busy on their phones and laptops and kind of more present in life. I’ve always loved vintage and more modest-leaning, grandma, cardigan thrown over the shoulders, handkerchiefs in this hair…it’s fun to see it become popular now.”
Hayes agrees, saying that part of the appeal of this trend is how it matches this era of moving back toward a more “unplugged” life. “For a lot of people it’s a pit stop,” she says “Like with all trends, some people will stop by for a minute and end up finding they feel their most authentic self here and that will be that for them.”
Authenticity is the driving force behind both women’s unique blend of traditional and modern. With the slow living trend on the rise, we look to modest fashion influencers like Epstein and Hayes to guide the way.