The highly distinctive Amish way of dressing is intended to set the Amish people apart from the rest of the world. The simple, humble clothing displays obedience to the church and conformity to this separatist religious community. Amish people who breach the code may be chastised by community leaders.
Amish Dress Code
To the Amish, a dress code is employed to prevent vanity and boastfulness, encouraging the Amish people to conform to their community and to focus on qualities other than outward appearance. Although individual Amish communities may differ slightly in accepted style of dress, Amish clothing is uniform, never gaudy or flashy, and never draws attention to any one individual. The Amish believe that this modest apparel is an expression of humility and faith that distinguishes the Amish community from the modern outside world. Many aspects of Amish dress are based in scripture, such as rules that govern head coverings for men and women.
Amish clothing is constructed of plain, durable fabric in solid colors: no plaid, stripes, florals or other prints. However, the fabric of men's shirts and women's dresses is often in attractive shades of purple, blue, green, brown or black, which may vary depending on the culture of each Amish community. Most Amish people believe that buttons are too decorative and gaudy, instead constructing clothing with plain, functional clothing fasteners such as snaps and hooks. However, buttons are acceptable in some communities, and when plainer fasteners are not available.
Men and Boys
Amish men wear dark shoes, dark socks and dark pants with suspenders but no belts with buckles. In most communities, pants are fastened with buttons instead of zippers. A solid-color shirt is topped with a straight-cut vest or jacket, depending on the season. Men wear practical, broad-brimmed straw hats that protect their faces from the sun in warm weather, switching to warm, dark-colored felt hats during the winter. However, the dress code allows for slight variations in hat style among different communities.
Women and Girls
Women and girls wear long dresses that are never shorter than calf length. The dresses may be in a variety of solid colors depending on the individual community, but are always covered with black or white aprons. According to Amish dress code, the hair of Amish women and girls must always be covered in public. Women wear white prayer caps, usually made of organza and stiffened with starch. In some communities, the caps are constructed of softer fabric, held on by strings tied under the chin. Married women wear dark bonnets over the prayer caps, but in some communities, the outer bonnet is worn only in cold weather.
Amish girls and women never cut their hair. Instead, they pull it into a braid or bun worn on the back of the head, where it is covered by the prayer cap. Adherence to the Amish dress code aims to keep the hair and dress of girls and women modest and the heart and body remain pure. Men cut their hair and don't wear mustaches. Single men shave their faces, but married men wear an untrimmed beard.
- East Buchanan Community School District: Amish History, Beliefs and Lifestyle
- BBC: The Amish
- Association of Computing Machinery: Amish Culture, A Rare Jewel in America
- Martin Frost: Amish
- Bryn Mawr: Serendip: Roles of Amish Women
- Kansas State University: The Amish Veil: Symbol of Separation and Community
- TeacherWeb: The Amish and Mennonites
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