Mennonites (members of certain Anabaptist denominations and groups) have many unique practices and customs that those not part of this community may not know about or understand. This includes how they dress.
Mennonite men typically wear linen shirts and pants to bed, and women wear handmade nightgowns. Women are expected to wear caps or bonnets in public, but it is not required to wear one to bed.
There are many questions and misconceptions about what Mennonites wear and why, including what they wear when they sleep. Ultimately, the Mennonite dress is all about simplicity, practicality, and modesty.
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Do Mennonites have rules about clothing?
Some more conservative sects of Mennonites have rules about clothing, especially what women can and cannot wear. Other less conservative groups are more relaxed and allow contemporary Western dress.
The way Mennonites dress is typically plain, practical, and modest. Mennonites lead simple lives, and their clothing reflects this. Most Mennonite clothing is the same or very similar, so they don’t have to waste time every day wondering what to wear or selecting an outfit.
Mennonite people are practical in nearly every aspect of their lives, including clothing. The Mennonite lifestyle includes a lot of hard work, so the clothing they typically wear must be practical for their daily tasks. Therefore, their clothes are made from long-lasting fabric that doesn’t stain easily and is easy and inexpensive to make.
When everyone dresses alike within the community, this establishes that no one is superior to anyone based on their dress and that belongings do not improve one’s social status. By dressing similarly, members of the Mennonite community reject hierarchy.
Here is how a typical, conservative Mennonite man dresses:
- Loose-fitting slacks in a plain, dark color
- A buttoned shirt, usually white
- Black shoes
- Black hat
This uniform allows men more time for worship and work, as they don’t need to worry about what to wear, and the clothing is conducive to hard work.
Finally, modesty is an important virtue for Mennonite women. In Mennonite culture, women are to be submissive to men and should honor God in all ways, and one way to accomplish both goals is to dress modestly.
A typical Mennonite woman wears:
- A prayer cap or bonnet that covers her hair, usually black or white
- A loose-fitting, simple, and conservative dress or skirt
- If wearing a skirt, a loose-fitting blouse in a plain color
- No jewelry or makeup
- In more conservative sects, women may wear a veil to cover their face.
Women cover their hair to conform with the rest of the community, respect tradition, honor God, and avoid tempting men with their beauty. They are prohibited from wearing jewelry and makeup for similar reasons.
Mennonites don’t want the focus of their community to be on superficial qualities, such as outward beauty – instead, they want the focus to be on holiness and worship. Therefore, any way of dressing that could distract from that focus is frowned upon.
Mennonites use certain lines of scripture to support this view. For example, in 1 Timothy 2:9, it is written: “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” 
Women are also expected to always dress femininely, which typically means a skirt or a dress. Wearing masculine clothes, like pants, disrespects God’s line of authority, as women are not meant to embody the authority of men.
Finally, while some Mennonites disregard the practice of wearing veils, in more conservative sects, women are expected to wear them to cover their faces. This is an act of modesty and a way to avoid unwanted male attention.
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What clothing colors and styles are important to Mennonites?
Many Mennonites usually wear black or other plain, dark colors. In most sects, there is no regulation against wearing bright colors, but many opt for dark colors. Clothing is generally loose-fitting and simple.
Black is an important clothing color to Mennonites because it is a simple and dignified color. It is a generally accepted color within Mennonite communities. A Mennonite who wears bright colors will stick out within the community, but one that wears black will conform and blend in, which is the goal.
Black is also an important color because it can signify marital status. In some communities, if a woman wears a black bonnet, this means that she is single and interested in finding a husband. Women wearing white bonnets are married.
In general, the clothing styles worn by Mennonites are simple, practical, and modest. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Practical clothing eliminates the need for separate work clothing.
- Loose-fitting and modest clothes on women prevent the temptation of men.
- For a woman, dressing modestly is a way to honor her submission to men.
- Simplicity helps eliminate ideas of hierarchy based on wealth and appearance.
- Dressing uniformly allows more time for work, worship, and taking care of family.
- This way of dress honors God and scripture.
Mennonites seek to live simple, holy lives, and one way they do this is by adhering to these rules and expectations of dressing.
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Do Mennonites wear bonnets to bed?
Mennonites do not wear bonnets to bed. Mennonite women are expected to cover their heads with a bonnet or cap in public or around others, but it is not required when they are in their private homes.
Bonnets are meant to demonstrate obedience, humility, and modesty around others, but most Mennonite women don’t wear their bonnets in their homes. 
Usually, Mennonite women wear simple, handmade nightgowns to bed. These nightgowns are made from materials found at dry goods stores, usually cotton or flannel for colder temperatures. Men usually wear long linen shirts, usually the same type of shirt they wear during the day in public.
Ultimately, Mennonites wear whatever is comfortable when they go to sleep. Most of the time, this does not include a bonnet.
Also see What’s the Difference Between Amish and Mennonites? to learn more.
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