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Style Ends With Aliyah

February 7, 2016 | by David Kilimnick

You can tell the year that someone moved to Israel by the clothes that they wear. Here’s how.

You can tell the year that someone moved to Israel (Aliyah) by the clothes they wear.

You make Aliyah and your wardrobe is set for the rest of your life. Style stops when you are not willing to pay more than 35 American Dollars for a new pair of pants that you have to iron. They might sell it in Israel, but I do not buy anything when I can get it cheaper in America. That is my motto, and I have held onto it since I moved to Israel thirteen years ago. I have not purchased anything inedible in Israel, since my Aliyah. A few times, I even surprised myself by buying dinner.

For example, Polo shirt – 1985; Tommy Hilfiger – 1996.

Us American Olim have a warped sense of this American style we hold so dear. And that style is at a permanent place in time, from the eternal day that we made Aliyah. The day where America was perfect and people had personalities. A time when Marshalls and Kohl's were a place I could be proud to shop at. A time when one could be proud to flash that 20% off coupon. A time when all stores gave that lifetime guarantee. Ah…

OK, here are my Ways to Tell the Time Period of the Immigration:

Immigrant by Clothes

Walk the streets in Israel and use my cheat sheet below to ascertain their exact year of Aliyah:

  • Polo symbol on shirt – 1985
  • Tommy Hilfiger – 1996
  • Girbaud sign on jeans – 1993
  • Shoulder pads – any year in the 1980s
  • ACDC shirt – 1979
  • iPod shuffle on sleeve – 2008
  • bell-bottoms – 1971 or 2006
  • corduroy – hand-me-downs from any decade
  • Jean skirt – any girl who is still in seminary
  • Members Only jacket – 1987
  • Non-ironed shirt with fraying collar – 2003
  • Anything you put on an iron – pre-1998

Anything brought to a cleaners, to make sure it is spick and span – trick question as this person still lives in America

Immigrant Suit

The Aliyah truth is most evident with suits. People may travel back for shirts and pants, but never does one buy a new suit in Israel. Israel is a once a year suit society. You do not need another suit, unless you are getting married twice that year. For the once a year when it’s required, I am fine wearing my bar-mitzvah suit. I have had a growth spurt since, but I am fine with my socks showing.

For a fun activity, sit outside of any synagogue on a Friday night and you can tell. The guy walking with a double breasted suit, he made Aliyah in the 1980s. Three piece suit – anybody who thinks they are important or from Europe, or perhaps a hand-me down. No suit jacket – an immigrant who thinks he is Israeli; meaning, just moved to Israel within the past two years.

Immigrant Hair

Aliyah is a vortex of style. You leave America and you do not realize that there have been changes. Some people never saw Cheers, never heard of Simon & Garfunkel. Some youth never used mousse in their hair.

When it comes to hair, people think that the way they left America is the way ‘cool’ is. I know people who still think it is the ‘in thing’ to have a step.

OK, here’s my Aliyah hair cheat sheet:

  • Step in your hair – class of ’89 or any fan of Bell Biv DeVoe
  • Girls walking around with a poof in the front of the hair – 1983-88, or girl in seminary wearing a jean skirt.
  • Bangs – 1960s, a girl from the '80s or a Beatles fan.
  • Top hat – 1920s or magician
  • Baseball hat – Jew who moved from America who still thinks non-Jews are judging him in Israel
  • Goatee – single guy, or rabbi from the 1960s
  • Comb over – Aliyah from any generation, with no pride.

New Clothes of Old Immigrant

Those of us who made Aliyah many years ago may still buy new clothes. It is a rare occasion that will only occur on Entenmann’s purchase trips back to the US. However, we are committed to our past. The clothes that we are buying are the ones that don’t have the hangers anymore. The new clothes of the Oleh are the ones that have 6 red tags, for each time they have been returned. The kind of clothes that I have gotten money from the store for purchasing.

When I go back to America now, I still ask for checkered shirts. I made Aliyah in 2003 and checkered shirts were cool then, in the Latino communities. I even wear it with the bottom buttons unbuttoned and the undershirt showing, with a bandanna. I have a friend who made Aliyah in 1985 and he still goes to the Benetton, looking for jean jackets.

New Fashion Trends

I am not a fan of the new “stylish” clothes that stick to you. That is what the kids are wearing nowadays. That statement means I am coming up on forty. Skinny pants are in and my nephews look wrong. I guess this means that my Aliyah pants are beginning to look stylish, as I have put on 30 pounds the past 10 years.

We may give up clothes that fit, but we do not need to give up our souls! That is how you know who is committed to staying in the Holy Land: if you see somebody wearing clothes from a different century, that do not fit right, you know, that that guy’s not going anywhere.


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