Do the Amish Make Their Own Clothes?
The Amish live a simple life, separated from modern society and modern conveniences. They’re known for dressing very modestly, in attire that resembles 17th-century peasant clothing.
But where do they get their clothes from, and why do they dress the way they do? Do the Amish make their own clothes? Join us as we delve into the clothing styles of the Amish, and the reasons behind them.
What this article covers:
Amish Beliefs on Clothing
The Amish are required to dress modestly, and there’s little variation between their clothing styles. While some New Order communities are slightly more progressive, most Amish, especially the Old Order, dress the way they have for generations.
The most important Amish belief about clothing revolves around modesty. The women wear long dresses that cover their legs and shoulders, and they cover their hair too. They usually wear aprons while they work.
The men wear long broad fall trousers and shirts, with traditional suspenders. They sometimes wear coats. They, too, cover their heads when outdoors.
Neither the women nor the men wear tight clothing or anything that’s revealing in any way. No ornamentation, slogans, or embellishment is allowed. Their attitude to clothing has remained unchanged since their foundation as a people in the 1700s.
Humility is also a very important factor in Amish clothing. The Amish believe that God has called them to live a simple, humble life. And that extends to everything they do, and wear. Garments aren’t viewed as a means to expression through fashion, but rather as necessary and practical items.
Therefore Amish clothing is comfortable, but not fashionable. It’s symbolic of their humility before God and therefore serves both a practical and a spiritual purpose.
The most noticeable feature of Amish clothing is its uniformity. There’s very little to differentiate one from the other. This is largely because they’re homemade from common resources and then handed down through the generations.
The Amish aren’t wasteful, and will not toss clothing out merely because they are tired of them like most modern cultures do. Amish clothing is functional, and not a fashion statement. When garments become worn, they’re mended.
Colors are kept to a minimum and are usually neutrals like blue, brown, grey, or sometimes purple. These colors are always subdued. Black dresses are worn when in mourning and white is worn by women for church or weddings, but the Amish blue dress is the most common sight in any Amish community.
Why Do the Amish Dress That Way?
Like most aspects of Amish culture, the Amish dress code is heavily influenced by their religious values.
Although not directly taken from the Bible, their attire represents the principles of modesty and humility espoused in the Scriptures, and these values dictate how every category of clothing is worn, as you’ll see below.
One of the most curious aspects of Amish clothing is the rule on Amish buttons and zippers. Most Amish use hook-and-eye enclosures for fattening garments. Others may prefer to use safety pins. These garment fastenings are reminiscent of the age their clothing styles herald from.
Do Amish use buttons? Some Amish use buttons, although very simple, plain ones. No decorative buttons are worn. Amish men’s coats don’t have buttons, though, to avoid the association with military coats of the past. Their trousers close with simple buttons, rather than a zip.
Although the view of buttons may differ from one community to the next, there’s one thing that always holds true. They don’t use zippers, as these are representative of the modern culture that they choose to live apart from.
Belts And Jewelry
Accessories such as belts and jewelry are not allowed. For this reason, Amish men keep their trousers in place with traditional suspenders. Belt buckles are seen as flashy ornamentation, therefore belts aren’t worn.
Jewelry and watches are not permitted, and that includes wedding bands. Jewelry is seen as an unnecessary display of vanity.
Because the Amish don’t believe in ornamentation and accessorizing, you may wonder why Amish wear hats, but they don’t wear these to be fashionable. Their hats have a much deeper meaning.
Amish women are required to cover their hair at all times. This is a rule that is founded on biblical texts and is never broken. They cover their hair with traditional bonnets called kapps. These are black in the case of unmarried women and girls, and white for married women.
Why do Amish men wear hats? Is it also a sign of modesty? Amish men’s hats are more functional. They protect them while working outdoors in the sun. Agriculture is still a large part of Amish life, and the men spend many hours outdoors.
However, the Amish broadbrimmed hat has also come to be a symbol of Amish culture. It’s rare to see an Amish man without one, although they’re required to remove them in church.
In contrast to this, Amish women wear their bonnets at all times, including in the church. This is in keeping with biblical texts that require a man to uncover his head in prayer, and a woman to keep hers covered.
A common sight on country roads near Amish communities is Amish barefoot children walking to their schoolhouses. This is mostly practical.
While children are growing, their shoe sizes will continuously change. It’s far simpler for them to go barefoot. But in any community, Amish or not, children often prefer to go without shoes!
Amish women also often go barefoot, although the men will generally wear shoes to work. When they don’t, it’s to feel closer to God and the earth. The connection with nature, as part of God’s creation, runs through all of Amish culture.
That said, when Amish wear shoes, they’re simple and functional. They’re almost always black, and they’re never embellished. Women never wear high-heeled shoes, preferring instead to wear more sensible, flat-heeled pumps.
Do the Amish Make Their Own Clothes?
Amish women in every community sew the clothing and soft furnishings needed for their families. Everything from bridal dresses to the Amish birthing gown is handstitched. The same goes for everyday-wear dresses, shirts, trousers, and aprons.
Amish quilt-making is also well-known and admired even among outsiders. Lovingly handstitched, their handmade quilts are found in every Amish home. These items are also sold to support their families. Amish women get together in quilting groups, and sit and sew together while enjoying friendly chatter.
Why Do the Amish Make Their Own Clothes?
The Amish make their own clothes as it’s more affordable, practical, and sensible to do so. In this way, they can ensure uniformity and modesty in their garments. Also, the Amish women have wonderful sewing skills, and they put these to good use for the community.
However, sewing is just one of the many talents that the Amish put to use for the betterment of their community. Amish basketweaving is another well-known traditional craft that has survived for countless generations.
They gather their fresh produce in a handwoven wicker harvest basket. Pantry items are stored in rattan baskets for shelves. Their extra handmade quilts and linens are neatly stowed away in under-bed storage baskets. Even their sewing boxes are homemade.
And you, too, can own these handmade Amish crafts with a purchase from Amish Baskets.
One of the most recognizable traits of the Amish community is their simple style of dress. Old Order Amish clothing is a large, integral facet of the Amish culture. Virtually unchanged for centuries, it’s a testament to their guiding principles of humility, modesty, and obedience to their faith.
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