‘Modest Mom’ Makes Frum Au Courant


Some things never go out of style — that little black dress, leather jackets, Tiffany and Co. — and even modesty.  

Modesty has been around since the beginning of Jewish law. It may be difficult to adhere to in an era where the Kardashians reign, but one Philadelphia mom’s style is becoming noteworthy.

Emunah Wircberg has developed a following for her fashion-forward posts as “modest mom” on Instagram. As the multitude of positive comments on her page indicate, her taste in covered-up garments show that it is possible to be both modest and fashionable.

Although it may be hard to believe based on her outfits, the 23-year-old mother of two wasn’t always à la mode. She developed her sense of style after spending a year studying in Israel. Her parents weren’t so strict when it came to a dress code, but her school and seminary were. At the seminary, the dress code mandated a button-down shirt of any kind and a pleated skirt.

She felt that the restrictions were somewhat forced upon her and had a negative connotation, but instead of being upset about the rules, she decided to stay positive and make her attire fashionable.

“We brought out our own sense of fashion with our accessories, like headbands, jewelry, bags, shoes,” she said.

After Israel, Wircberg lived in Brooklyn for four years — a time and a place that had the most influence on her style.

Aside from a passion for fashion, Wircberg said having good style also makes a difference in how you present yourself. As a Jewish woman, she added, following the observant guidelines of modesty while also being fashionable is a beautiful form of expression.

“As an observant woman, all mitzvahs that we do are a way of connecting to God, so following the guidelines of modesty is one of them,” she said.

Wircberg currently has more than 4,400 followers on her Instagram account the_modestmom, which she started in March. She tags designers and stores in her pictures so her followers can see where she bought her clothes.

She eventually hopes to write more about her outfits and blog about where her inspiration comes from.

But for now, she does her best to be responsive to her followers, answer their questions and inspire them to see the beauty in modesty.

“For me, I just want to show people that you can be a mother and running around chasing two children and working and dress modestly but be fashionable,” she said.

“I have Jewish followers, I have Christian followers, I have a lot of Muslim followers as well, or just people who appreciate

dressing modestly,” she added. “Every religion has their own certain set of guidelines of what they wear, but in general, if they are dressing modestly or into modesty, then I have a lot of followers of all different religions.”

At first, she was surprised to see that she had so many followers from different backgrounds.

“Why would they be interested in me?” she chuckled.

But she said you could use modesty to enhance your life rather than see it as a setback, from any point of view.

In the fashion world, she explained, designers like Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino and Christian Dior create outfits that happen to be modest as a way to be noticed.

“A lot of people do see the beauty in covering up a little. You don’t have to flaunt everything to get attention. You can have gorgeous designs that are just modest.”

In addition to those designer brands, Wircberg gets a lot of her favorite pieces from H&M and Zara. She also shops at Jewish stores that feature Jewish designers who create chic, modest outfits for observant women, such as Mimu Maxi, Linear Collection and Project 6 NY.

Sometimes she has to add fabric to the skirts she buys from stores like H&M to make sure they cover her knees, or she wears a tank top under a shirt so it covers her collarbone, but these Jewish designers reduce the need for that. It’s easier and more worth her time to buy a dress that fulfills her modesty requirements.

She also follows other modest fashion bloggers for inspiration and admiration, like Fabologie or two of her friends, Aliza Scharf, who has almost 4,000 followers on Instagram, and Eliana Ladenheim from Eishes Styles.

“Being a modest fashion blogger, you have this little group of other modest fashion bloggers and modest designers who create these outfits, and it’s just very cool,” she said.

Wircberg described her personal style as not necessarily all over the place, but “big.”

“I don’t really have a certain style. I like to have different looks,” she said, whether wearing a high-waisted flowy long skirt or rocking a leather jacket.

On top of being a mother, Wircberg is the co-director of the Old City Jewish Art Center with her husband, Zalman. She also went to culinary school.

“All of the arts — in terms of the art gallery and being a chef and also being into fashion — for me, it’s all forms of expression. They all relate to each other tremendously,” she said.  

When it comes to her fashion, Wircberg does her best to be comfortable and stylish.

“I’m not the type of mom who walks around in heels. I understand the role as a mother and the fact that I’m running around doing things,” she said.

And even as a busy mother, Wircberg said, putting together an outfit is usually not a big deal.

“Sometimes I think about what I’m going to wear, and other times I just throw something on,” she said. “I don’t think about it that much. I just take whatever’s in my closet.”

One of her favorite go-to pieces is a black frock from Mimu Maxi, a simple jersey-knit loose dress. She said she could dress it up or down, making it an easy and comfortable outfit. Matched with her favorite accessory, a chic hat, and she’s ready to go.

And 4-year-old Lezi and 1-year-old Roza aren’t left out when it comes to their mother’s fashions either.

“I actually enjoy shopping for my kids more than myself,” Wircberg said. She likes having both a boy and girl to dress, and prefers dressing her daughter like a “little lady” instead of a baby.

Being the modest mom is definitely a family affair — the photographer behind her flawless photos is her husband, Zalman. But she emphasized that even though modest mom is a big part of her life, it usually only takes up about 15 minutes of her day as she passes by any interesting Philadelphia backdrop.

“I don’t just walk around with a photographer all day long. Usually, my pictures are taken as I’m putting my kids in the car before school,” she said.

Her son has gotten used to the routine, too. “A lot of times, if we’re not taking a picture and we’re going somewhere, he’ll be like, ‘Mom, let’s take a picture.’

“They’re my kids, I’m with them every day, so they’re such a big part of my life. I try to incorporate them into ‘modest mom’ also because it shows that you can be a mother of two and still walk around modest and dress with style.”

Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737



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