Although many of our customers have a highly specialized tallit in mind, others simply want a basic traditional wool tallit.
But even if you’re in the market for a classic wool tallit — plain and simple — there are still some choices to be made. In very traditional Orthodox congregations, black-striped tallits are the mainstay. If that look is a bit too stiff for you, black and gold or black and silver might fit the bill.
Among Sephardic Jews, there is a fairly widespread custom of wearing a white-on-white tallit. Here, too, there are some twists: instead of satiny white stripes, you can go with matte striping, e.g. on the Malchut Talit and the Beit Yosef Talit, or you can go in the opposite direction by opting for a white-striped wool tallit with silver or gold pinstripes.
A third option is a blue-striped tallit. Blue-only striping is definitely traditional, whereas some more colorful designs have a somewhat modern look.
Note that on a wool tallit, sometimes the atara (neckband) is all white, with a subtle satiny pattern, whereas others have the Tzitzit Blessing (recited as you don the tallit) embroidered on the atara. As a general rule, the plain type of atara is found on black-striped, white-striped and blue-striped tallitot, whereas other colors (e.g. black-silver, black-gold, blue-silver, blue-gold, white-silver, white-gold) have the blessing on the atara.
You may come across certain add-on options such as a tallit lining, side bands or a middle band. The lining is stitched onto the bottom of the tallit where it comes in contact with your head and shoulders. Side bands are like narrow ataras sewn along the sides and are recommended for those who like to grip onto the sides. A middle band runs across the center of the tallit horizontally to reinforce stress points.
What about the tzitzit? Basic wool tallits come with machine-spun tzitzit tied by the manufacturer according to the Ashkenazi custom. For many people, this is fine. But there are also a lot of other possibilities, including hand-spun tzitzit or techelet tzitzit, and each of these options comes in both thin and thick. Machine-spun are always tied according to the Ashkenazi custom, while white-only tzitzit can be tied according to the Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Yemenite or Chabad custom, and techelet tzitzit can be tied according the the Rambam, Raavad, Vilna Gaon, Sefer HaChinuch, Rav Amram Gaon or Arizal (shown here).