Amish Clothing

I wanted to recap a little more of my visit to Shipshewana, Indiana where I was researching my upcoming series, Shipshewana Amish Mystery (Zondervan 2011).

It’s possible that Amish clothing is part of what draws us into the story. We are a bit fascinated with this simpler style of dress. It would be nice to not have to worry about what size jeans I’m wearing. Sound shallow? Perhaps not. One of the things I admire about the Amish is that they don’t focus so much on external things.

So what was it like in Shipshewana? Well, it was a little like I expected, and a little different.

The women did wear traditional style dresses, but they were in prettier colors than I’d imagined or read about.  And no aprons. Where are the aprons?

They still wore the prayer kapps, of course. Though my editor immediately pointed out that they’re different from the kapps Amish wear in Pennsylvania. Miriam, the woman who worked in our B&B, explained that kapps are different from district to district. Also notice their shoes are not the big, clunky black shoes I’ve read about. In fact, nearly every woman I saw wore flip-flops. Well, who can blame them. It’s summer, after all.

One of the most curious things I saw was the little boys wearing wool caps. This did seem odd in the middle of summer. When I asked why, they said, “Well, our fathers wore them.” Seems like a good enough reason. In Texas, girls wear boots with their skirts – in the middle of summer. Tradition is valued, no matter where you live.

The boys do wear the hat we’re more accustomed to seeing to church. In fact, this gentleman who drove a buggy to the dinner we went to was dressed in what I think of as the “traditional Amish clothing.” He was such a nice, young man and stayed to have dinner with us at this home.

I suppose clothing isn’t that important. It’s just what we WEAR, not who we are. But I’ve noticed when I’m away from our little country town in central Texas, I begin to miss things like seeing my neighbors in cowboy hats, the sound of western boots walking across the floor, blue jeans and dress shirts and belt buckles. It’s how we dress. It means I’m home.

Amish dress differs from state to state and district to district, but it indicates much about their faith. You can learn more about it by visiting some of their historical sites like the Menno-hof, or you can read a good book on the Amish.

Next time you see someone dressed differently than you, I hope you smile, nod, and realize they just come from a different place (geographically or spiritually). Makes for an interesting world.


Posted in

Leave a Comment