|Designer Etty Cymet Sadek with her daughters; from left, Nikki, Yocheved, Batya, and Gali. They have had a strong influence on her work, their mother says.|
Who says you have to show a lot of skin just to look stylish?
Not Etty Cymet Sadek, that’s for sure.
The Teaneck mother became frustrated after years of shopping with her fashion-savvy daughters. She found the experience of searching for modest clothing amid the racks of skimpy dresses in department stores to be a Herculean task. Realizing that the answer could not be found in a mall, she opted to take matters into her own hands.
Armed with her keen sense of design, she created Layerwear Basics, a fashion line of basic modest clothing that can look good on just about any figure. Three years into her project, Layerwear Basics has expanded from online sales to local school and synagogue boutiques across the tristate area and is now available at Carly’z Craze in Teaneck.
Her clothing line so far consists of six pieces: a tube dress, which was so wildly popular that it was copied by other designers; three skirts; a shell; and a tank top. The skirts and dress cover the knees and the shell and tank top are designed to wear under shirts or dresses so that the neck and/or arms are covered. Sadek hopes to expand her offerings soon.
Thus far, Layerwear Basics has been well received, according to Alene Brodsky, co-owner of Carly’z Craze with Wendy Borodkin. Brodsky said Sadek’s clothing has been flying off the racks at Carly’z Craze, which opened last December on Cedar Lane with the mission of selling modest clothing for girls and women. “It has been selling so well that we tripled the quantities for the next order,” Brodsky said.
“She’s an artisan who expertly designs styles that fit a variety of body types in the most flattering ways. Her skirts are popular among teens and women alike.”
Years ago, dressing in modest attire was a more challenging endeavor, Brodsky added. “It was not easy to find styles that were both modest and fashionable.”
These days, fashionable dressing has become much easier for women who want to adhere to modesty laws. A number of clothing stores have cropped up in recent years catering to religious women in Teaneck and the surrounding areas.
“Etty has been a leader in providing new stylish options for our community,” Brodsky said. “Her clothing offers our customers the option of a flattering, slimming skirt in an appropriate length. They can be worn as under layers with tunics, long sweaters, and short dresses, or on their own.”
Sadek said that some of her biggest fans are teenagers who consider her tube skirt a staple of their wardrobes. Although many of her customers are Orthodox women who want to cover their knees and elbows because of modesty laws, she also has an impressive following of non-Jewish customers.
“I get orders from people from all over the United States, who have no connection to being Jewish,” Sadek said. “I have been reviewed by bloggers who are Mormon. There are Christian groups that are very careful about modesty. There is a market out there for modest clothing.”
Sadek’s entrance to the business world came midlife, in the midst of an economy saddled by turbulence and a difficult divorce. After marrying young and raising her five children, the now single mother, who is a native of Mexico, set out to realize her vision of a collection that would fill a void in the modest wear market. “I wanted to make a basic line of clothing that would be a go-to place for pieces that were consistent,” she said, adding that the skirts and shell can be worn with just about any blouse or tunic out there and it will look like a complete outfit.
She researched fabrics and styles and experimented on her daughters, who served as her models as well as advertisements. “I wanted each piece to look good on the body, and to be superior to what’s out there,” she said.
Her products, which are all made in the United States, are reasonably priced, ranging from $32 for a skirt to $65 for a dress.
Sadek, who was always interested in art and specialized in interior design, has been actively involved in designing all the clothes.
“I put a lot of effort into making people look and feel good, but ultimately it’s about wearing your modesty with confidence,” she said.