Modesty does not have to be frumpy, says the ‘fabologist’

Modern Orthodox fashion forward blogger Adi Heyman shows religious women how to strut their stuff on the streets of New York

Adi Heyman walks the streets of New York as the Fablogist. (courtesy)
Adi Heyman walks the streets of New York as the Fablogist. (courtesy)

NEW YORK — Reflections on the Torah are not usually the stuff of fashion blogs. While there are many style websites and many Jewish websites, Fabologie is unique in being a lifestyle website that blends chic Jewish living with high fashion.

Fabologie’s founder, Adi Heyman, is as unashamed to flaunt long hemlines and sleeves as she is to post missives linking trends to the weekly Torah portion.

“Some people wouldn’t read the parsha probably if it wasn’t for Fabologie and so I try to make it appeal to them,” she tells The Times of Israel.

Heyman is a petite woman with ice blue eyes and a natural looking blonde wig that hits at the shoulder (complete with brown “roots”). She arrives for our meeting wearing a black leather sheath by Cynthia Rowley over J Brand jeggings (jeans leggings) and ivory stilettos by Brian Atwood, a single gold Cartier Love Bracelet dangling on her thin arm. She orders a cappuccino with extra shots of caffeine although it is six in the evening.

Heyman is aware that she’s offering a unique vantage with her modest “mod-blogging.”

“I say, here are the trends, here’s how to do them modestly, and I line up runway looks that are all modest. You’re going to feel like you’re reading Vogue. It’s the same trends, the same level of fashion, but you’re not going to feel like you’re at a loss,” says Heyman.

As Heyman sees it, “modesty begins on the inside and is reflected on the outside” with, say, an oversized knit plus midi skirt. It is not about season or trend, but rather a mindset, a belief, and a steadfast devotion. Modesty is a gift, says Heyman. And lucky for us, she adds, Valentino fashion house designing duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli also see the beauty in “covered couture.”

Adi Heyman models 'covered couture,' complete with blond wig with realistic 'roots.' (courtesy)
Adi Heyman models ‘covered couture,’ complete with blond wig with realistic ‘roots.’ (courtesy)

Heyman’s eye for high-style modesty has not only attracted thousands of fans to her site and on social media, but she has also caught the attention of bold names in the fashion world.

Often photographed for fashion magazines and websites, Heyman usually chooses demure, head-down poses, letting her carefully selected outfits dominate the photos.

Heyman, born Amber Fuller to a big southern family in San Antonio, Texas, is the archetypal insider-outsider.

Both parents were born Christian: Her father grew up secular and her mother was raised as a practicing Christian with many preacher relatives. Her great-uncle “Cotton” Davidson won the Super Bowl.

Modest does not have to mean frumpy, says Adi Heyman. (courtesy)
Modest does not have to mean frumpy, says Adi Heyman. (courtesy)

When Heyman was in her early teens, her parents sought greater spirituality and the family converted to Judaism together. Soon after their conversion, the family, which includes Heyman’s two sisters and a brother, moved to Miami to be part of the Jewish community there.

Following a stint in Israel following her graduation from a Modern Orthodox day school in Miami, Heyman moved to New York to study English at Touro College. After graduating Touro, she got married and began working as an assistant to a fashion and lifestyle editor.

She quickly realized that the fashion world and the Jewish world do not always mesh.

“Life was like two lives. The Adi who worked in the fashion world and never slept, never ate, never drank. And then there was the Adi who came home and whipped up Martha Stewart Shabbos. I felt it was a big disconnect,” says Heyman.

Fabologie was started as an anonymous Facebook page on which Heyman posted pictures of modest but fashionable clothes that covers elbows, knees and collarbones. The page was so popular that she expanded it to a website with contributors on accessories and cooking. Heyman counts Gwyneth Paltrow and blogger Man Repeller (Leandra Medine) as inspiration.

“I didn’t understand why no one was bridging this gap of a high level of style and fashion but geared towards the Jewish girl. I felt like [the blog] could be a support for modest girls,” she says.

She runs Fabologie from her Upper West Side home, which she shares with her husband and young son.

‘I think you only feel like yourself when you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in’

Heyman practices closet-control by keeping only key pieces, and selling the rest on eBay after she has worn them. She admits to a weakness for shoes and sees them as an excellent venue for self-expression. “I use shoes as a wow factor,” she says.

Heyman also provides private styling services. Clients contact her for assistance with buying a few special items of clothing for the season or for a particular event, knowing that she has gone to the runway shows and can advise them on modest couture.

“I’m very into people sticking to their own style,” says Heyman. “I think you only feel like yourself when you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in.”

As for what to look out for this spring, Heyman is glad to see an abundance of midi skirts on the runway.

Though the majority of her followers are observant Jews who value her appreciation of high fashion and the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, Heyman has received feedback from religious Muslims, Christians, and Mormons who are also interested in dressing modestly and stylishly.

“I love fashion,” exclaims Heyman. “I sit at the runway and I really enjoy it. Not for the price tag, not that I would even wear half of it, but for the craftsmanship and for the passion. Just the brilliance of starting a trend.”

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