The Difference Between Mennonite and Amish Hats
Amish and Mennonites share a common European Anabaptist heritage and even dress similarly. This understandably causes much confusion among their ’English’ neighbors who often struggle to tell these groups apart.
But the Amish split from the Mennonites centuries ago, so it stands to reason that they would wear different clothing styles. Right? Even today, very few differences exist. These relate mostly to styles of headgear, fabrics, and colors.
One thing they still have in common is the requirement for headwear and modest clothing. But despite their incredibly similar appearance, there are tell-tale clues. And there’s a difference between Amish and Mennonite hats, too.
What’s the Difference Between Mennonite and Amish Hats?
There are a limited number of Amish outside of America, but they tend to wear the same types of clothing.
Of course, there are also different types of Amish and Mennonites. And these different groups within each community sometimes show differences in their attire, too. But the following are the differences between typical Old Order Amish and conservative Mennonite communities’ headgear.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between Mennonite vs Amish clothing.
This is why many outsiders find it so difficult to tell them apart. Both wear hats and beards, along with very modest and old-fashioned style clothing. But one way to tell the difference between Amish and Mennonite men is by their hats.
Walk through the fields of an Amish settlement. You’ll see men gathering produce grown by their own hands, waiting to fill harvest baskets lovingly woven by hand by the women of the community. And you’ll notice they’re all wearing wide-brimmed, flat-topped hats.
They’re usually black and made of felt, but straw hats can occasionally be seen too, especially on men working outdoors. Many Amish men make their living through farming and agriculture. Their hats protect them from the harsh rays of the sun.
The boys riding their bicycles with wicker bike baskets on the front, on their way to the Amish schoolhouse? Yes, they’ll be wearing hats, too. The only difference is, they’ll be clean-shaven. Amish men stop shaving and grow their beards out when they get married.
Mennonite men, too, always wear hats. These are typically made of straw, with a black band. However, their hats are often more ornate than Amish men’s hats. They often grow their beards out as the Amish do, but they are not prohibited from shaving.
Mennonite men dress modestly, in simple trousers and shirts with suspenders just like Amish men do. But even the very conservative ones don’t dress nearly as plainly as the Old Order Amish.
What about the Amish vs Mennonite bonnet? Do the women’s head coverings differ, too? One difference is style.
An Amish head-covering is a bonnet called a Kapp. It’s a compulsory clothing item in any Amish community, whereas Mennonite women have more freedom around headgear choices.
Female Mennonite and Amish garments are also very similar, adding to the confusion, but they’re given more freedom here too with a wide array of colors and fabrics.
Let’s look at how you can differentiate between the hats of Amish and Mennonite women.
Walk in on any Amish quilt-making group, and you’re guaranteed to see the following. Women, young and old, wearing long dresses and bonnets, seated around a vintage wicker sewing basket. Amish women are required to wear their hair up under simple fabric bonnets at all times when in public.
Even those little Amish girls walking through the field with their cute picnic baskets will be wearing bonnets, but they’ll all be black bonnets. In the Amish community, the color of a bonnet is an indicator of marital status. Black for unmarried girls and young women, and white for married women.
Do the Mennonite women have a similar custom?
Mennonite women also have to cover their hair, but they don’t follow as strict a custom as the Amish.
They are allowed to wear brighter and more ornate clothing than Amish women. It’s not unusual to see Mennonite girls wearing richly-hued dresses with matching bonnets. Of course, this depends on how conservative their particular community is.
However, sheer bonnets, scarves, and even sun hats with veils are allowed.
Amish and Mennonite cultures share an ancestral bond, and this is the reason why they resemble each other so closely.
Their cultural practices, and especially their clothing, do have a common thread running through them. But they are two distinct cultural groups, adding a rich flavor to the American melting pot of nations.
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