Do Amish and Mennonites Dress Differently?


Both Amish and Mennonites are descendants of the Anabaptist movement and share many of the same values. However, the rules they live by vary in some important ways, such as those governing their clothing choices. 

Amish and Mennonites dress a bit differently from each other. Generally, Mennonites are less restricted in their clothing choices. Although conservative Mennonites wear plain clothing like their Amish peers, modern Mennonites can wear more modern clothes, such as those with zippers and prints. 

Read on to learn more about how Amish and Mennonite people dress, their similarities and differences, and clothing variations in traditional Amish versus Mennonite communities. 

Mennonite dress
Do Mennonite and Amish women both wear head coverings? See below

What Are the Similarities in Amish and Mennonite Clothing?

Traditionally, both Amish and Mennonite clothing styles focus on being plain. Dressing plainly without colorful and flashy items signifies dignity, modesty, and the simplicity of life. [1] 

In Amish and Mennonite communities, different groups will follow different clothing choices. Different Amish groups can display clothing styles that vary from each other. However, within the individual groups, their plain clothing choices remain as uniform as possible to serve as a marker of their Amish identity. 

Similarly, different Mennonite groups will have different ways of dressing. For example, conservative and Old Order Mennonites concentrate on wearing plain clothing more than modern Mennonite groups.

A considerable similarity in Amish and Mennonite clothing is the wearing of head coverings for women. However, the size and style of the head coverings vary depending on how liberal the women are.

  • Amish women wear a head covering known as a kapp. Women must wear the covering with a bonnet during special occasions. A woman’s marital status influences the bonnet color she can wear. Married Amish women wear white bonnets, while single women wear black bonnets. [2]
  • Conservative Mennonite women wear small head coverings. These can be in different shapes. In modern Mennonite communities, the women don’t wear any head coverings. [3] 

Despite their clothing similarities, Amish people tend to have stricter rules for how they dress and will wear plainer clothing than Mennonites. Only 25% of Mennonite groups dress plainly in the 21st century, and these communities are much more conservative than others. [4]

Amish
Do Amish women wear capes? See below

What Is Traditional Amish Clothing Like?

While Amish clothing can vary from one group to another, it’s generally pretty uniform. Traditional Amish clothing is never flashy. It isn’t meant to draw attention to one’s self. Fabrics are plain and feature solid colors instead of stripes or other patterns. 

Here are some traditional clothing guidelines followed by the Amish, looking at how they vary between men and women. 

Amish Women’s Clothing Rules 

  • Clothing is usually in the form of solid colors. It can be in shades of purple, green, brown, black, or blue, depending on the Amish community.
  • Buttons are considered to be too decorative. Fasteners such as snaps and hooks are worn instead. 
  • Women wear long dresses that have to reach their calves but can be longer. These are also in solid colors. 
  • Old Order Amish women wear dresses that have long sleeves, a full skirt, and a cape and apron on top. The apron has to be in a solid color.
  • The cape, known as a kerchief, is worn by Amish women to hide their necklines, and it also provides privacy for women who nurse babies. This cape forms part of an Amish woman’s church attire.
  • Aprons are a big part of an Amish woman’s wardrobe. Married Amish women wear black capes and aprons to church. Unmarried women wear white capes and aprons. When women are doing chores around the home, they will wear gray aprons. [5]

Amish Men’s Clothing Rules

  • Men will wear shirts, vests, and jackets (if the weather is cold), all in solid colors. 
  • They wear hats that vary in style depending on the season. In the summer, men wear broad-brimmed straw hats. In the winter, they will wear felt hats. 
  • Men can wear coats when it’s cold, but these don’t have collars, pockets, or lapels. 
  • Suspenders are usually chosen for pants instead of belts, which are considered too fancy. 
  • Men’s shirts are long-sleeved without any patterns on them. 
Mennonite community

What Is Traditional Mennonite Clothing Like?

People in the most conservative Mennonite groups wear plain clothing. They wear clothing that represents modesty and humility, as well as their separation from mainstream society. 

The way conservative Mennonites dress varies greatly from how modern Mennonites dress. Modern Mennonites can wear clothing that people outside of their communities wear, but they must still ensure that they make modest choices. 

Here are the clothing rules that conservative, traditional Mennonite women and men wear. 

Mennonite Women’s Clothing Rules

  • Women in conservative Mennonite groups wear long dresses and coverings, such as capes and bonnets.
  • The dresses must have high necks and long sleeves and must be at least calf length, although they can be longer.
  • The dress fabrics can have subtle patterns and prints as long as they’re not too flashy. This standard varies significantly from what women in more modern groups wear, such as denim skirts.
  • Conservative Mennonite women must wear head coverings. These coverings must be black if they’re part of the Holdeman Mennonite group. Mennonite women in other conservative groups wear white coverings instead.
  • Women must wear head coverings over uncut hair pinned into a bun hairstyle.
  • Conservative Mennonite women wear aprons and capes to conceal their shape.
  • Women can’t wear anything flashy, so shorts, skirts, and accessories, such as buttons or jewelry, are prohibited.

Mennonite Men’s Clothing Rules

When it comes to Mennonite men’s clothing, the rules are not as restrictive as those for women. For example, when not attending church, more modern Mennonite men can dress similarly to non-Mennonites by wearing plaid shirts.

Old Order or Conservative Mennonite men will wear clothing such as: 

  • White button-down shirts 
  • Dark pants
  • Suspenders
  • Plain coats (essentially jackets without lapels). 
  • Plain suits (straight-cut suits that are worn to church, but they must not be worn with ties.) 
  • Short-sleeved cotton-blend shirts for work [6] 

Conclusion

While Amish and Mennonites share some clothing similarities, there are important differences in how they dress.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source
[6] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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