To dress tzenu’a, women should:
Cover torso to elbows and to knees, inclusive;
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.
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.
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.
Women may wear open-toed sandals if that is customary in their community.
When women say blessings in the mikva, their bodies are covered by the water, which takes the place of clothing for that purpose.
Married Women: Head Covering (Kisuy Rosh)
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).
Note: A 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 ponytail, 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.”
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.
A married woman may allow her doctor to see her hair uncovered if necessary for treatment or examination.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tzni’ut for men: Men must at least wear shorts. For men, tzanu’a attire when swimming is a bathing suit.
Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.
This material is provided for informational purposes only – not a substitute for the consultation of a competent rabbi.