What was the dresscode in your yeshiva?

“In du Hoisen” was said at least 10 times a day to me and almost everyone I attended high school with. Any time that term was said, it meant one thing, no it didn’t mean the Rabbi wanted to get in your pants- you sicko, it meant to tuck in your shirt. I used to feel that certain rabis were only hired for one or two things, this ones purpose in life was to tell us to tuck in our shirts, a big deal mind you, because without tucked in shirts, collars, or button downs we were NAKED.

I know it sounds like a stretch, but wearing jeans, shorts or even white sneakers was like being naked. Craziness I know, but I am not kidding you, I remember being caught wearing shorts once while riding my bike, it was as if I had snorted a line of coke with some strippers on shabbos, the fury reigned down upon me and talks of suspension were in the works. I never had the guile to ask “what is so bad about wearing shorts”, I understand now what was so bad, apparently they were too low and I had plumbers crack hence justifying the fact that I was naked.

I was never really into jeans, but I think wearing jeans was worse then wearing shorts. After all Jeans were invented by a Jew but I heard he wasn’t shomer shabbos so we couldn’t support that heretic Levi Strauss, I also heard that jeans were inherently goyishe- many a time from my rabbis, and if we wore jeans what was next? Cheeseburgers, Sizzler, McDonalds- or the Sinbads Soup Kitchen. In fact they loved to use the Soup kitchen as an example of the yetzer harah who was always trying to get us to buy non-kosher soup. Seriously though, the soup smelled so good, but I never really wanted to waste my national day of treife on soup, I would so rather have the all you can eat soup, salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden.

You might be wondering the following, if jeans were naked and shorts were naked, and non button down shirts were naked, what exactly were we supposed to wear? Button down shirts tucked into any kind of non-Jean pants. It wasn’t that bad really, I went through this wide leg/cargo pants phase. Like almost every kid that passed through any yeshiva related to the off the derech crisis of the late 90s you undoubtedly shopped at places like Hot Topic and Pacific Sunwear, and bought pants that looked like skirts and made people think you were wearing them down your butt when it was just the big pockets with little men on the back that made people think so.

As hard as it is to believe, wide leg cargo pants with mischievous little men on your butt were better then jeans, weird! So too were bright flashy Hawaiian shirts with huge open collars revealing no chest hair whatsoever, were better then polo shirts. I always thought polo shirts were the dress style of Chassidic hockers who are the camp drivers and handymen during the summer. But this too was naked!

Black shoes were mandatory, but you could wear sneakers and all sorts of dark colored shoes, I guess I cant complain, I never had to wear those weekday frummy shoes. You know the black rockports that looked like they seen better days. They are half shoe half sneaker, and they clunk and shuffle when you walk. In fact in order to enter beis medrish in my high school you had to go from regular walking and strutting to shuffling, you also had to revert your handshake from solid death grip to the “he might possibly be gay” or “I wonder if his hand is working” handshake commonly known as the dead fish.

But everyone had jeans and other illegal types of clothing, and the one day a year you could get naked as they said in the Mystic tea commercials, was Lag Baomer. I have no idea why jeans and shorts and everything in between were all suddenly kosher for lag baomer, but even though it was untznius with all the kollel and rabbis wives we could run with our jeans on which was supposedly naked so I never understood how they made heterim for us to be naked in front of the ladies. I never asked, and donned my shorts with exuberance. Even the rabbis dressed down on lag baomer, donning short sleeved white button shirts and baseball hats, sometimes they even wore white shoes, I thought we could wear leather on lag baomer, but these rabbis wore their yom kippurs finest shoes so I wasn’t sure what to think.

I do realize that my yeshiva was “modern” by comparison. I have heard that some schools have measurements as to the stripe sizes and some even have a color checker to see what shades are too dark or kosher to wear. I never understood how diversity in the yeshiva system was something like a “blue shirt” sitting in the beis medrish, but hey that’s what those folks do. I have heard people go as far to exclaim with shock “they let you wear cotton pants- WOW” to my response of “when the heck did cotton become assur?” I guess I missed that ban. Maybe that will be the topic of future discussion.