Modest swimwear making splash at East Coast beaches

It’s still August, still hot, and some forward-thinking Jewish women are making summer sun-and-sand times easier for others who don’t look like bikini babes — or don’t even want to.
Daniella Teutsch and Sara Wolf founded HydroChic in New Rochelle, New York, for themselves and those like them who don’t favor extreme body exposure. For some women, modesty is part of their faith; the two were first inspired when they saw a number of Orthodox Jews entering Jersey shore waters wearing ankle-length denim skirts. But other women are just reluctant to parade their personal body flaws in public. Plus, some want cover-ups because they’re heeding warnings about serious repercussions from overexposure to the sun’s rays.
All the above resonate to the company’s motto:  “We’ve Got You Covered.”
When Teutsch and Wolf continued paying attention, they noticed how many beach-y women were wearing big, baggy T-shirts over their swim suits. Was this protection from the sun, or from prying eyes?
No matter: They began creating for all. And recently, their work hit the Wall Street Journal as the lead in “Modest Bathing Suits Make a Splash,” an article subtitled “Swimwear dives into new market, offering more coverage.”
The writer was WSJ staffer Lucette Lagnado, whom you may already know as author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, a book about the modern-day Jewish exodus from Egypt — of which she and her family, including her dapper father, were reluctant pilgrims.
Lagnado’s comprehensive WSJ piece also featured Undercover Waterwear, a Brooklyn firm founded by Susan Esses and her daughters, Rachel Tabbouche and Melissa Chehebar, specifically to (swim)suit Orthodox Jewish women. And there’s yet another company, Aqua Modesta, also based in Brooklyn, with offerings touted by founder Regine Tessone as ”the original kosher swimwear.”
Not ‘modesty police’
Ms. Wolf of HydroChic says “I am not the ‘modesty police.’ So many women are seeking alternative solutions to the traditional bathing suit, whether for sun protection or body coverage. We are proud to offer a wide selection of fashion-forward choices.”
Today’s array includes tank tops, shorts, and “skorts” (skirts with attached shorts underneath) as well as long skirts and both long- and short-sleeved tops, all available in an array of bright prints and solids as well as muted colors.
On the other hand, Ms. Tessone sticks with the Orthodox women who are her client base, offering nothing at all that’s sleeveless. She does do complete outfits, such as a long skirt with attached Capri-length pants and a matching top featuring elbow-covering sleeves and built-in bra. (A go-with bathing cap is an extra-cost choice.)
The trio at Undercover Waterwear started out like Aqua Modesta, then branched off the straight-and-narrow to include both short skirts and short sleeves. But only so far off: sisters Rachel and Melissa vetoed a reptile print miniskirt and strapless top actually designed by their mother!
You can go online to see all the offerings of these three young businesses that did what successful new businesses do: spotted a real need and went about meeting it. A good definition of the initial need was provided by WSJ reader Laura Laredo’s comments on Lagnado’s article:
“The reason Torah-observant Jewish women wear modest swimwear — and modest clothing in general — is that a Jewish woman is a Bas Melech, a Daughter of the King, and dresses as such. The idea is that her sexuality is reserved for her husband (and vice versa, of course), and her dress should not attract other women’s husbands (or single men).
“Judaism recognizes that men are hard-wired by God to be visually oriented and turned on when seeing a woman. In the context of marriage, that’s a good thing. In the context of a woman not your wife, it’s a bad thing.
“It’s actually the ultimate feminism,”  Laredo  concludes. “Dress so that you’re not viewed as a sex object, and that your inner beauty is what shines through!  And ‘modest’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘unfashionable.’
“No burqas required!”

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