Written by Rebekah Miller
Today we’ll go into detail about the Amish dress codes and customs. Their dress is the first thing most people notice and what sets them apart from the world. The Bible verse that comes to mind when I think of an Amish woman is 1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes, rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
I’ll start with the biggest affiliation of Amish, which is the Old Order. They are perhaps the most lenient of the four affiliations we will be talking about, dress wise. The women wear dresses of modest color, yet in recent years I have noticed an influx of noticeably brighter colors being worn.
Most married women no longer wear a matching apron with their dress, but some of the more conservative women still do. I guess you could say that it’s a personal choice, not one that is enforced anymore. In all four affiliations, everyone wears a white head covering, yet in church only the married women do, with the unmarried young girls wearing black coverings. There is a slight difference between each of the four affiliations’ head coverings, but I won’t go into detail. The Old Order men wear either black or tan straw hats while in public, with their shirts having a collar and being button down or in more recent years, polo shirts with three buttons. All men wear home-made pants with buttons, as no zippers are allowed. The Old Order are very lenient with color of clothing, as everyone wears that of their own preference.
The New Order women are slightly more modest in their dress, with women wearing dresses with more folds (or pleats). They also have a matching color cape sewn onto each of their dresses as a bid to be more modest, and in more recent years the Old Order women have started doing this as well. Their head coverings are very similar to the Old Order style and are hard to tell apart. The men have their hair (and beard) cut shorter than the Old Order but their dress code is for the most part very similar to the Old Order. These two affiliations have very much of the same color preferences and dress.
The Andy Weaver Church(or Dan Church) on the other hand, are much more conservative when it comes to dress, with the women wearing darker colors. They wear a color matching apron with every dress and must wear shoes that are all black. When you see a Dan Church woman in public, she will most likely be wearing a black bonnet over her white head covering, a tradition the Old and New Order women forgo. The men wear collared button down shirts, in modest darker colors as well. Their hair and beards are longer than that of the Old and New Order men. In overview, their dress and way of life is much more conservative than that of the aforementioned affiliations.
But there are none more conservative than the Swartzentruber Amish. Their dress code allows very little leniency, with the women all wearing either dark green or dark blue dresses, with many folds or pleats as to not show any of a woman’s shape or form. Their sleeves come to their wrists and they always wear a matching cape and apron, even while working at home. The only shoes they are allowed to wear are black high-top ankle boots, and this goes for the men as well. Their head coverings are home-made and cover most of the hair and ears. They always wear a bonnet in public, no matter the temperature. The men wear mostly dark blue or green shirts with a black jacket, with black pants and boots. Their hair is very long and covers their ears and they’re not supposed to trim their beards, often resulting in beards halfway to their waist. In drastic comparison, the Old and New Order men trim their beards to a length that looks more neat and clean. The Swartzentruber men all wear black felt hats, while in public and at home. This group of Amish are very easy to tell apart from the rest as they are much more plain and conservative than any of the rest.