Do the Amish Wear Shoes?
How a cultural group dresses often indicates its norms and values, and this is certainly true of the Amish people. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Amish is their simple, modest attire.
They’re known for their plain clothes, out of step with modern fashions. Most of their garments, reminiscent of 18th-century peasant dress, are homemade. They’re also often seen going barefoot outdoors. So do the Amish wear shoes? And if they don’t, why not?
We look at this interesting facet of Amish clothing culture and examine the reasons for it, below. The answers may surprise you and will give you deeper insights into the Amish way of life.
Do Amish Wear Shoes?
Yes, the Amish people can and do wear shoes. These are usually black shoes to go with women’s black stockings or men’s black trousers. There’s no law against wearing shoes, and Amish men, in particular, usually wear shoes.
However, the women often go barefoot, and Amish children are always seen walking barefoot too.
What Kind of Shoes Do Amish Men Wear?
There’s a patriarchal division of labor in Amish communities. The men do more of the manual labor, whereas the women take care of domestic duties and teach the children. Some women do, however, assist their husbands with farming duties.
The men usually wear work boots, walking shoes, or even formal shoes, depending on the occasion and their occupation. They are sometimes allowed to wear black sneakers, but it depends on the settlement they live in. Most Amish men are local farmers or carpenters, but some work outside their communities.
Why Do Amish Men Wear Shoes When the Women Don’t?
While they don’t love to wear shoes any more than the women and children do, they’re mostly engaged in manual labor, and that means that wearing shoes is a practical consideration for them.
So why do people often see the Amish barefoot?
Why Do Amish Women Wear No Shoes?
The Amish dress code is very specific and adherence to it is strictly enforced. Old Order Amish clothing is the most austere of all, but even the more progressive New Order Amish communities wear plain and modest clothing.
It’s been the norm since the Amish first settled in America, and today’s Amish people wear garments that mirror those worn by their ancestors. This is because the reasons for their modest clothing remain the same as they were all those years ago.
What do Amish wear? Men are to wear simple shirts and trousers in plain colors. And the women are also required to dress simply and modestly. They wear long dresses in plain colors, and bonnets on their heads to cover their hair.
They may wear aprons, and sometimes even don capes for special occasions. But these too are plain and functional, as opposed to fashionable. Amish women will usually wear black stockings and matching flat shoes when outside the community.
However, they usually don’t wear shoes when working in the community. So when working at their Amish quilting groups or weaving their garden harvest baskets and wicker bread boxes, they do so barefoot. The reason for this is two-fold.
Going barefoot is an act of humility. It shows that they aren’t bothered by the pride and vanity of fashion. That’s why Amish clothing has no buttons or zippers. It’s also why Amish women wear bonnets, called kapps.
What Is The Deeper Significance of Going Barefoot?
Going without shoes has an even deeper, more spiritual significance for the Amish people. It sets them apart from the vanity of this world and encourages the modesty called for in the scriptures.
The Amish believe that going barefoot keeps them closer to the earth and nature, and therefore keeps them closer to God. There’s no easier way to enhance the bond with God’s natural creations. As such a pious people, this is of great importance to the Amish.
Why Don’t Amish Children Wear Shoes?
Amish children, walking barefoot in groups to their local schoolhouse, while clutching their handmade Amish dolls are a common sight along roads in Amish country. Amish children don’t wear shoes for much the same reasons as women. However, it’s also a matter of practicality.
While children are growing, their feet are too, and thus their shoe sizes keep changing. To supply them with a continuous stream of footwear would be wasteful and incongruous with Amish culture.
Amish people place great importance on modest and frugal living, as evidenced by their simple, homemade garments. Everything from an Amish birthing gown to a wedding dress is also made in the community by local Amish women.
Frugal Living Is a Large Part of the Reason
Everything that Amish people do, from their household chores to their community tasks and means of income, must be in accordance with their beliefs. They don’t wear modern fashions, revealing clothing, make-up, or jewelry. (They don’t even wear wedding bands).
They also don’t use electricity, as this would tie them to the culture of worldliness and vanity they’re determined to avoid. Therefore all Amish garments are not only homemade but handmade too.
Shoes, however, have to be bought. In the case of growing children, this could become a major expense, as Amish have large families.
Besides, in any culture, Amish or otherwise, kids love to play barefoot on the grass. So it's not that unusual that Amish children are happy to go barefoot.
The Amish are deeply devout people, connected to the earth and the land. With their long history of farming the land, with only traditional methods, they have a profound connection to nature.
They see their bond with nature as an expression of their relationship with the Creator. Hence their tradition of going barefoot whenever possible has an inherent spiritual meaning.
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