Introduction to Attire
Introduction to Attire
Various types of attire are considered appropriate for men, single women, married women, and children to wear in public.  The standards vary somewhat due to location and era.
Attire: Sleeping Covered
Sleeping Covered
A person should be covered with something when sleeping.  This may either by a sheet/other bedding or by a garment that is worn.
Note This is a good practice and is expected but is not a halacha. It is part of modesty (tzni'ut) between people and God.
Attire: Getting Dressed
Dressing in a Certain Sequence
Dressing in a certain sequence, such as putting on your right sock before your left sock, is proper behavior.
Attire: Blessings/Torah/Prayer
Attire: Blessings and Torah Study
The minimum attire required for saying blessings or studying Torah is shorts for men and a covered torso for women. But more of your body may need to be covered due to location and circumstances. For example, if men are in view, women's tzni'ut rules take over since they are more restrictive.
Attire: Man's Head Covering for Prayers or Torah Study
Wearing a hat for prayer (for men) is formal wear that shows honor to God. Men do not need to wear a hat but must have some type of head covering when saying blessings, when praying, or when studying holy texts (this is halacha). If a man said a blessing or prayer without a head covering, b'di'avad, it is OK and he does not need to repeat the blessing or prayer.     
Attire: Amida
See Attire for Amida.
Praying in Bare Feet on Stone Floor
See Praying in Bare Feet on Stone Floor.
Attire: Men's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed Woman
See Men's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed Woman.
Attire: Women's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed People
See Women's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed People.
Attire: Sha'atnez
Attire: Sha'atnez: Sheep Wool with Linen
You may not wear clothing made by combing/felting, spinning, and/or twisting/weaving lamb's or sheep's wool with linen. You may also not wear a garment made of two pieces—one wool and one linen—that have been sewn together. Even one thread of wool or linen with the other material is forbidden (there is not batel in 1/60th for sha'atnez).
Note The acronym sha'atnez stands for shu'a, tuvi, nuz—three steps in processing wool and linen fibers.
Attire: Women and Men
Attire: Women's/Men's (Begged Ish)
Attire: Wearing Other Gender's Clothing
Clothes that are worn by both genders may be worn by either gender, even if they were intended to be worn by just one gender. So women may wear clothes that have been made and intended for men (begged ish) if women wear those garments, too. There are some exceptions--consult a rabbi.
Attire: Men Wearing Women's Clothing
           Men may not wear women's clothing.
Attire: Women Wearing Men's Clothes
           A woman or girl may not wear men's clothes (begged ish), even:
  • if for a different purpose than what men use them for, and
  • if not for the purpose of looking like a man.
Attire: Woman Wearing Talit for Warmth
          A woman should not use a talit to keep warm, even
  • if there is no other garment in the synagogue and
  • if she is listening to a Torah class.
Attire: Pistols and Other Weapons
          Pistols and other weapons are considered to be men's attire (begged ish), but they may be worn or carried by women if in any place where there is danger.
Attire: Mixed Swimming
Attire: Women
Attire: Women: Tzni'ut
Attire: Tzni'ut Guidelines for Women
To dress tzenu'a, women should:
  • Cover torso to elbows and to knees;
  • Cover collarbones (and hair, if married).
Also, the garments must not cling tightly to the woman's body.
Note If there are no men nearby (visible), women do not need to wear tzanu'a attire, including when swimming.
Note It is an act of piety to always dress tzenu'a, and is preferable always to dress tzenu'a when feasible.
Attire: Women: Tzni'ut: Lifeguard
If no female lifeguard is available, a male lifeguard may guard and women do not need to wear special tzanu'a attire. There is no difference between using a Jewish or non-Jewish male lifeguard.
Attire: Women: Socks or Stockings
Women wearing skirts below their knees do not need to wear socks or stockings, unless that is the custom in their community.
Note Custom is defined by how people who follow halacha dress, not by how non-religious people dress, even if the non-religious are the majority of a community.
Attire: Women: Open-Toed Sandals
Women may wear open-toed sandals if that is customary in their community.
Attire: Women's Blessings: Mikva
When women say blessings in the mikva, their bodies are covered by the water, which takes the place of clothing for that purpose.
Attire: Married Women: Head Covering (Kisuy Rosh)
Attire: Married Women: Hair-Covering Guidelines
Married women should cover their hair when they leave their “chatzeir,” which may mean house, yard, or domain. Married women should not appear in public without covering their hair.
Note It is an act of piety for married women to always cover their hair. (For extenuating circumstances, consult a rabbi for exceptions).
NoteA married woman may have her hair exposed as long as its area is less than 1 square tefach (3.5” x 3.5”, or about 9 cm x 9 cm). To measure this, add up all exposed hair to get a total area, flattened to two dimensions, as if it were a silhouette.  It is an act of piety for married women to completely cover their hair.
To measure braided or bunched-up hair or hair in a pony tail, simply measure the cross-sectional area as it is. You do not need to measure the hair as if it were spread out flat.
When wearing a baseball-type hat, hair may be exposed on all sides, as long as the total exposed hair is less than 3.5” X 3.5.”
To wear a "kipa sheitl," you may wrap your real hair around the sheitl, but only up to a total of 3.5” x 3.5.”
Attire: Married Women: Hair Cuts
A Jewish woman may have her hair cut by any hairdresser, including men, whether Jewish or not, and there is no problem of his seeing her uncovered hair.
Attire: Married Women: Doctors
A married woman may allow her doctor to see her hair uncovered if necessary for treatment or examination.
Attire: Married Women: Hair Covered during Prayer
A married woman is not required by halacha to have her hair covered when praying alone, but the custom is for her do to so.
Attire: Women: Pritzut
Attire: Women: Pritzut Even If Completely Covered
Pritzut is a deviation from the norm for people's attire, even if completely covered (or not properly covered!).
Example A woman wearing a leotard and tights may be violating pritzut even if her body is completely covered, depending on where she is.
Attire: Women: Pritzut and Neighborhood Customs
          Deviation from the accepted standard for attire (pritzut) may apply even to customs such as are followed in certain neighborhoods, and visiting women must conform to the local standards while there.
Attire: Girls
Attire: Girls: Tzni'ut
Attire: Girls: Age for Modest Dress
Girls should dress modestly from the age of gil chinuch, when they can understand the concept of why to dress modestly. This may start at 6 years old but may be older depending on the girl. Consult a rabbi.
Note The requirement that girls dress modestly from gil chinuch includes girls' wearing bathing suits around adult males.
Attire: Men
Attire: Men: Tzni'ut
Attire: Men: Tzni'ut: Guidelines
          Tzni'ut for men: Men must at least wear shorts. For men, tzanu'a attire when swimming is a bathing suit.
Attire: Men: Head Covering (Kisuy Rosh)
Attire: Men: When To Cover Head
Attire: Man's Head Covering Indoors
It is customary for men to wear a head covering always, even indoors.  This is a custom, not a halacha. When praying or saying blessings or studying Torah or when in a synagogue or bet midrash, men must wear a head covering.
Attire: Men: With What To Cover Head
Sleeve/Hand as Man's Head Covering
You may use your sleeve or someone else's hand (but not your own hand) to cover your head to say a blessing if you are not wearing a head covering.
Mesh Man's Head Covering
Wearing a mesh head covering (kipa) is OK if the threads cover more area than the spaces. 
Size of Man's Head Covering
Minimum head covering (kipa) size should be large enough to be considered a head covering:  a 3-inch diameter would be reasonable.
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Holiness
Kipot Have No Holiness
          Kipot (yarmelkas, skullcaps) do not have any holiness (kedusha).
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Placement
Men's Head Covering on Top of Head
Wear a head covering (kipa) on top of the head, not over the ear as some men do.
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Prayer
Wearing Hat for Prayer
For details on men's wearing a head covering for prayer, see Attire: Man's Head Covering for Prayers or Torah Study
Attire: Men: Tzitzit
Tzitzit: Value
Tzitzit: Continuous Mitzva
Tzitzit have protective value; wearing them provides a continuous mitzva throughout the day and even at night (but only when wearing a garment which is primarily worn during the daytime).
Tzitzit: How To Wear
Tzitzit: Hanging Out
Wearing tzitzit hanging out of your clothes is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Tzitzit: When To Wear
Tzitzit: At Which Age To Wear
Boys begin to wear tzitzit as follows:
     Custom: When the boy is toilet trained and knows how to say the blessing.
     Halacha: When the boy knows that two tzitzit go in front and two in back.
Tzitzit: At Night or While Sleeping
Tzitzit should be worn day and night but not during sleep. (The commandment is to wear tzitzit only during the day, but they still provide protection at night.)
Note Men (and boys) wear a talit katan even after dark but only on clothes which are primarily worn during the daytime), due to doubt as to whether tzitzit are required at night.
Tzitzit: When Hot
You do not need to wear a talit katan at any time when you would not wear a shirt, such as if it is too hot or if you are too sweaty. If you wear a shirt, you should also wear a talit katan.
Tzitzit: Interference with Activity
You do not need to wear tzitzit if they will interfere with an activity such as swimming, scuba diving, or gymnastics (and, for me, hanging upside down on a flying trapeze!).
Tzitzit: What To Wear
Tzitzit: What To Wear: Which Garments Require Tzitzit
A garment or cloth requires tzitzit if:
  • Worn by a male 13 years old or above,
  • Contains at least 51% natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, etc.), and
  • Has four corners in which two corners are normally behind you and the other two are normally in front of you while wearing it (A shawl will not normally need tzitzit).
Note It is the widespread custom to begin wearing tzitzit at the age of chinuch—typically about three years old but this can vary by child.
Tzitzit: Knots and Wraps
Tzitzit strings have five knots separating four wraps of strings. This applies to tzitzit whether on a talit katan or talit gadol. The minimum length for tzitzit strings: 
From the first to fifth knots--at least 4 inches; 
From the fifth knot to the bottom (lower end) of the strings—at least 8 inches.
The wraps go around the entire bunch of strings as follows:
At top but below the first knot: 7 times 
Below the second knot: 8 times 
Below the third knot: 11 times, and 
Above the bottom knot: 13 times
Note The total of the wraps' gematria values (7+ 8+ 11 + 13 = 39) equals the gematria values of Hashem (one of God's names) Echad (is One), as follows:
Hashem (spelled: yud, heh, vav, heh) = 26
Echad (spelled: alef, chet, daled) = 13
Hashem + Echad = 26 + 13 = 39
Tzitzit: Shamash
The purpose of a shamash on tzitzit is to have a string long enough to make wraps.
Tzitzit: Placement
Like all tzitzit, tzitzit on a talit gadol should hang over the side edge of the talit and not hang down from the bottom.
Note They are still kosher even if they hang straight down, b'di'avad.
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
Tzitzit: Checking
Tzitzit: How To Check
Tzitzit: For What To Check
In checking tzitzit, determine:
  • Are any loops torn?
  • Are 8 strings visible on each corner?
If you cannot see 7 strings due to one or more having been torn off, consult a rabbi.

There is no problem if tzitzit are tangled. However, to untangle them:
  • Is a superior way to fulfill the mitzva, and 
  • Allows you to easily check them to see if there are 8 tzitziyot.
If any tzitziyot are so frizzy that the individual tzitziyot cannot be distinguished, they are invalid (pasul).
Note To prevent frizziness during laundering, wrap the tzitziyot tightly in a rubber band before drying them in a dryer, or hang them to dry.
  • If the hanging end of a tzitzit string breaks below the lowest knot, the string is kosher.
  • If more than one string breaks, or if one string breaks above the lowest knot, consult a rabbi since the tzitzit may not be kosher.
Tzitzit: When To Check
Tzitzit Checking: Before Blessing
You are not required to check tzitzit on a talit katan or talit gadol each day. 
Reason We assume, based on the norm (chazaka), that the tzitzit are OK.
But it is a good idea to check them before saying the blessing over them each day.
Tzitzit Checking: Shabbat and Jewish Festivals
Do not check tzitzit on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Reason If there is something wrong, you might untangle them and thereby untie a knot, which is prohibited from the Torah.
Tzitzit: Blessings
Tzitzit: Blessings: When To Say
Only say the blessing on tzitzit during the day.
Tzitzit: Blessings: Tish'a B'Av
On Tish'a B'Av, say a blessing on tzitzit in the morning as always.
Tzitzit: Kissing
Tzitzit: Kissing: Morning Shema
When saying morning shema, kiss the tzitzit when saying the words:
  • tzitzit” in the shema, and
  • emet” and “la'ad” in paragraph following the shema.
These are non-binding customs, not halacha.
Tzitzit: Kissing: Night Shema
Don't kiss tzitzit when saying the shema at night.
Tzitzit: Holding
Tzitzit: Holding: Morning Shema
Holding all four tzitziyot when saying the shema in the morning is not required, but it is customary to do so.
Tzitzit: Preventing Fraying
Tzitzit: Preventing Fraying
You may tie knots in the ends of tzitzit strings to prevent fraying.
Tzitzit: Disposal
Tzitzit: Disposal: How To Wrap
To dispose of items used for mitzvot (tashmishei mitzva) such as tzitzit or etrog, you may wrap in one layer of plastic and throw it into dry garbage, or wrap in two layers of plastic and throw it into wet garbage.
Tzitzit: Cut-Off End Disposal
You may cut off (shorten) tzitzit strings before the first time they are used and throw away the pieces without covering them. Once tzitzit strings have been worn, you must wrap them before disposal as above.
Tzitzit: Garment Disposal
Garments for talit katan and talit gadol have no special holiness (kedusha).  But once used for a mitzva, the garments—like the tzitziyot themselves--must be wrapped before disposal, as above.
Talit Katan
Talit Katan: Size
Talit Katan: Size
The minimum size for the garment of a talit katan is large enough to wrap your torso in, in front and in back: 17 inches (43 cm) wide and 17 inches (43 cm) long, from the top edge to bottom edge and so the total minimum dimensions will be 17 inches wide by 34 inches long. The optimal size is 24 inches wide and 24 inches long on each side (resulting in dimensions of 24 inches by 48 inches. 
The minimum  width for a talit katan is 17 inches
The minimum width for a talit katan is 17 inches
Talit Katan: Material
Talit Katan: Material
A talit katan (or a talit gadol) must be made from at least 51% natural fibers.
Talit Katan: Marking
Talit Katan: Marking Front and Back
A talit katan do not need to be marked with a front and back, but some people have a custom to do so.
Talit Katan: Blessings
Talit Katan: Blessings: Shema if You Wake Up Early
Situation You wake up early and want to say shema (in case you return to sleep and might miss the latest time to say morning shema). 
What To Do
  • You need to wear only a talit katan (not a talit gadol).
  • Say the blessing al mitzvat tzitzit, even if you normally would later put on a talit gadol and therefore would not normally say that blessing over a talit katan.
Talit Katan: Blessings: Shabbat or Jewish Festival Talit Katan
Situation You switch to a special talit katan right before Shabbat and Jewish festivals.
What To Do You do not need to say another blessing over the special talit katan if to switch:
  • Is your normal intention (even if you did not specifically intend to switch when you put on your talit katan that morning), or
  • Is NOT your normal intention but you did intend to switch later that afternoon. 
You must say another blessing if to switch:
  • Is not your normal intention and you also did not intend to switch when you put on the talit katan that morning.
Talit (Gadol)
Talit Gadol: Description
Talit Gadol: Size
The minimum size for a talit gadol is so you could put it over your head and wrap your body in it (even though this is not how you must wear it!).
Talit Gadol: Material
A talit gadol (or a talit katan) must be made from at least 51% natural fibers.
Talit Gadol: Color
A talit should be primarily white.  Here are some details:
  • A talit gadol should be either all white or white with black stripes. Avoid a very colorful talit that makes the white part look insignificant.
  • Blue stripes used to be used: as with techelet, the blue reminds us of the sky, of God's throne (kisei ha'kavod), and of God.
  • Even though the talit was originally supposed to have blue stripes, it is not the custom today to use blue stripes.
  • Black stripes have no significance or importance.
Talit Gadol: Tzitzit Placement
Like all tzitzit, tzitzit on a talit gadol must hang over the edge of the talit and not hang down from the bottom (see diagram).
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
Talit Gadol: Why
Talit Gadol: Mitzva
Men wear a talit as a mitzva (wearing a four-cornered garment in order to wear tzitzit).
Talit Gadol: Form of Honor
It is a form of honor for the congregation for the leader to dress up (some congregations have the custom of requiring the leader to wear a jacket for mincha for this reason). A talit is usually the form of dressing up for all men during prayer services.
Talit Gadol: Humility
When a person speaks directly to God, it is very important to demonstrate humility. Since the Talmud says that covering one's head is a form of humility (and that learned Jews/talmidei chachamim used to cover their heads), men who wear a talit for prayer should ideally use it to cover their heads whenever they wear it, but the minimum is during the amida.
Talit Gadol: When To Wear
Talit Gadol: Amida
A talit is required only when saying the amida prayer, but the universal custom (for men who wear talitot!) is to wear the talit during the entire shacharit service.
Note A talit is worn for shacharit, musaf, and all day and night on Yom Kippur; it is not commonly worn for mincha or ma'ariv (except on Yom Kippur).
Talit Gadol: Prayer Leader during Amida Repetition
A prayer leader should be especially careful to cover his head when saying the reader's repetition of the amida.  A hatless prayer leader covers his head with the talit gadol during the private amida (also during the public amida and repetition). If wearing a hat, he does not cover his head with the talit.
Talit Gadol with Talit Katan
Wear a talit gadol even though you are already wearing a talit katan, as a means of honoring the prayers.
Talit Gadol: Married Men
Once a man has been married, he must wear a talit when saying shacharit and musaf, even if he becomes widowed or divorced.
Talit Gadol: Mincha
When wearing a talit at mincha Torah reading--such as for an aliya, hagbaha, or glila--you do not need to wear it until after kedusha, but some people have that custom.
Talit Gadol: Blessing
Talit Gadol: Which Blessing
The blessing over putting on the talit gadol is lehit'ateiph ba'tzitzit.
Talit Gadol: What the Blessing Covers
Saying the blessing on a talit gadol, while intending to cover all other talitot (whether talit katan or talit gadol), will cover:
  • All talitot that you already put on.
  • All talitot that you will put on later that day.
  • If you go out of whichever building you are in when you say the blessing on your talit, you must say a new blessing if you put on a talit (even the same talit) in a different building.
Exception You may intend for the blessing NOT to cover other talitot.
Example You say the blessing over your talit gadol on the morning preceding Yom Kippur.  You may intend for your blessing not to cover the talit gadol that you will put on just before Kol Nidrei.

Note If you don't have a talit gadol, say al mitzvat tzitzit over your talit katan.

Note If you remove your talit gadol, go to a different building, and put the talit gadol on again, you DO say a new blessing.

Talit Gadol: Placing Talit on Head
Placing the talit gadol over your head while saying the talit blessing is a halacha, but wearing it on your head any other time is a custom.
Talit Gadol: Replacing One You Removed by Choice
Do not say a new blessing when you replace a talit that you chose to take off, with the intention of putting it back on (such as removing it to go to the bathroom).

Talit Gadol: Replacing One that Fell Off
Say a new blessing when you replace a talit gadol that fell off your body completely (not just if it slipped off one shoulder).
Talit Gadol: Blessing when Borrowed for Aliya/Prayer Leader
If you borrow a talit, such as for an aliya or to serve as prayer leader, it is not customary to say a blessing on it.
Note If you want to say a blessing on a borrowed talit, ask the owner to “give” it to you as a gift, which you will later give back as a gift.
Talit Gadol: Blessing on Loaned or Borrowed
Do not say a new blessing when you put back on your talit gadol that you loaned someone if you are at the same prayer service.
Talit Gadol: Blessing between Bar'chu and Amida
Situation You began shacharit on your way to synagogue and are between bar'chu and the amida when you arrive. You have not yet put on a talit.
What To Do
  • Put on a talit immediately.
  • Say the blessing on the talit after you finish the amida.
Talit Gadol: Blessing over Public Talit
You may say the blessing on a public talit gadol available at the synagogue, even though it is not your talit.
Reason It is assumed that the talitot at synagogues are there to be used by anyone.
Talit Gadol: Blessing Once Married
Once a man is married and wears a talit gadol, he stops saying the blessing on tzitzit on his talit katan; it is covered by the blessing on his talit gadol.
Talit Gadol: How To Put On
Talit Gadol: Putting on in Morning
To put on a talit in the morning:
  • Say the blessing lehit'ateiph ba'tzitzit.
  • Put the garment over your head and down to your nose.
  • Gather the two tzitziyot from the right side and the front one from the left side and swing them over your left shoulder (you do not need to bunch up the talit before doing so).
  • Wait for at least 2 ½ seconds and say the appropriate verses (see a siddur for the text).
Talit Gadol: How To Care For
Talit Gadol: Folding, Rolling, Hanging
You do not need to fold a talit after using it; you may roll it or hang it up. The only requirement is that you take care of it and don't crumple it or treat it disrespectfully.
Attire: Belt
Belt/gartel with Robes
You only need to wear a belt/gartel (for saying blessings, prayer services and for studying holy texts) if:
  • You are wearing an open and loose garment such as a robe (or other toga-like garments) and
  • You are not wearing any undergarments.
Note The belt separates upper from lower parts of your body and this requirement is not normally relevant for Western attire. If it is your family tradition, you should follow that. There may also a kabalistic reason to wear one.
Attire: Shoes
Leather or Synthetic Shoes in Halacha
In Jewish law, only leather shoes are considered to be “shoes” for purposes of the Nine Days, mourning, Yom Kippur, shiv'a, or ritual impurity. Non-leather shoes may normally be worn during those periods.