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Question about Amish dress

A few years ago I was at Union Station in Chicago waiting for a train. There were many groups of Amish people. Each group had very different styles of dress. What really caught my eye was a group where all the women were wearing full aprons that were covered with bright silver safety pins. Does any one know who they were or where the might have come from?

Re: Question about Amish dress

I was at our local Amish-owned stores  (Windsor Country Store and Shiloh General Store in North Carolina) the other day and noticed that the women wore dresses with elbow length sleeves and flip-flop shoes!  I think both are really good choices with the heat we can have here.  Their aprons were attached with traditional straight pins.  -Kay

Re: Question about Amish dress

I asked some of the ladies of the church about the safety pin thing.  None of them knew of any Amish that had rules to wear safety pins on the apron.  They suggested that the ladies had them pinned there so as to have them handy to take care of baby diapers, etc.  Could this be?

Re: Question about Amish dress

At my cousin's wake a couple of weeks ago there were a lot of Amish there, and I noticed that they and the children with them had buttons on their clothing, I always thought they used straight pins, not anymore I guess????

Re: Question about Amish dress

When Amish dress standards were formed at the turn of the 18th into the 19th Century, a shirt was really considered an undergarment.  A vest or waistcoat was always worn over it.  At that time the shirts didn't have buttons.  They pulled over the head and had tie strings to close up the vent at the front.  The Nebraska Amish of the Big Valley of Pennsylvania still wear shirts like this.  Also, their trousers don't have buttons.  They have a drawstring at the back as did the peasant trousers of that time.

The Amish looked at the "Worldly" folks and saw them with their velvets and satins and lace.  Their coats and breeches and shoes all with fancy gold or silver buttons or buckles.  Fancy!

Also, this was the Napoleonic Era.  Think of the West Point uniforms.  Rows of buttons on the breat of the jacket and the sleeves.  To the Amish this look smacked of the military. 

Fancy rich folks and the military all with buttons on their outer garments.  The Amish turned from this as a plain and non-conformed, non-resistant people and for the most part forbid buttons on outer garments.  Some allowed them on shirts because they were, at that time, considered almost like under-garments.

In my church we allows buttons on shirts but not pockets.  If we buy a shirt at a store we must take the pocket off.  Outside garments we may used snaps or hooks and eyes.  On our Sunday vests and mutza coats we use hooks and eyes.  Our trousers are the broadfall trousers.  No fly but a buttoned up flap front.  Our church rules have it that we wear suspenders, either elastic or non-elastic.  This varies with church groups.

Please understand that there are Amish groups with standards that forbid buttons on shirts.  You just hadn't run into them.  I have. 

Hope this helps.


Re: Question about Amish dress

Cheryl, the whole concept of the Amish not wearing any buttons is a bit outdated....there are some that wear buttons, some wouldn't dream of it, and yet others embrace a hybrid: metal it really just depends on which Amish settlement a person is from.....

Re: Question about Amish dress

Thank you. I am trying to remember more details. It was more than 2 years ago and my memory isn't very good. I am just so curious about this. As I recall the dresses were bright colors and the aprons were black. There had to be atleast 2 dozen safety pins. I thought that maybe someone might be aware of this group and could tell me more about them.

Re: Question about Amish dress

Sorry, I forgot to mention about the pins.  The more conservative groups fasten their clothes with pins.  I'm surprised at the safety pins.  The more conservative usually use straight pins.  Why the aprons were covered with them I have no idea.  The apron or hals-duch usually fastens in the back with straight pins.

Re: Question about Amish dress

Hmmm.  Well, one can usually make out the Amish sect if you know the keys to go by:

Women's bonnet: Is the woman wearing one?  Older orders wear them whenever they go away.  More liberal just for church.  Plus, how big is it?  How far forward on the head does it come?  Larger the bonnet, more conservative the Amish.

Women's headcoverings:  The prayer cap.  What material is it made of?  How opaque is it?  How many pleats does it have?  Usually, the more of the head that is covered the more conservative the Amish.  This is not true for the Lancaster County Amish.  The women's head coverings there just sort of ride on the back of the head.  Usually, the more pleats in the back of the covering the more conservative the group.  The more opaque, usually, the more conservative.  The more net or gauze like and see-through, the more liberal the group.

Colors of dresses.  Usually, dark colors brown and black signal a conservative group.  Brighter, pastel colors would inidicate more liberal.

As far as the men.  Hat brims are a give-away.  The more conservative the broader the hat trim.  Very conservative, usually have at least four inch brims.  Most general run Old Order Amish have three inch hat trims.  I wear a three and a quarter inch.  That is my preference.  Most of the men in my community wear anywhere from two and three quarters to three and a quarter inches.

Also, is the man wearing a vest.  The more conservative Amish wear long-sleeved shirts and a vest even in the warmest weather.  Does the shirt have a collar?  That is another key.  In my community we are allowed to wear short-sleeved shirts.  But, not for church.  Long sleeved white for church.  Although, on Sunday school, Sunday, we may wear a pastel colored long-sleeved shirt.

There are many other indicators, more than I have time to describe.  Hope this helps.

Re: Question about Amish dress

I would agree with all of these assessments. I would just add that observing the clothes helps determine what kind of settlement they are from, but not necessarily WHERE...although you can certainly narrow it down!Smile  I am also scratching my head about the safety pins ,far more common to see straight pins than safety pins....

Re: Question about Amish dress

have we been able to determine whether this was more of a decorative nature ot perhaps the number of them was significant. did they all have the same arrangements of them as well as the same number ???

might be helpful if i designateds that i am referring to the safety pins.  what is the idea with straight pins -has anyone ever worn a garment that their mother left a straight pin in it" ouch

Re: Question about Amish dress

It is really hard to try to guess where/what community an Amish person is from based on a quick glance of their clothing.  But it's fun to try!Smile  First, one has to determine whether they are Old Order Amish, Old Order Mennonite or some other plain group.   Then since even the most conservative Amish move around from state-to-state....and local rules are different from place to place, all makes it nearly impossible.  Safety pins are usually a sign of a very conservative sect, maybe Gusluke can help us with an answer to this one?