Amish Boys Clothing


Figure 1.--Amish boys dressed just like their fathers. One of the most destinctive items was the broad-brimmed straw hat. The only major difference is that the boys often went barefoot. The father here has taken his sons to a market at Kidron, Ohio. Here even the younger boys wear the telescope hats.

Clothing in the Amish style is very plain and unornamented. It is a mix of European peasant tradition and largely 19th century American styles. There are many common trends, although there are variations form community to community. Amish men and boys wear dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats without lapels, broadfall trousers, suspenders, solid-colored shirts, black socks and shoes, and black or straw broad-brimmed hats. The broad-brimmed straw hats are one of the most destinctive items of Amish dress. Both the men and boys wore them. Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons, but their suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. They wear suspenders (braces) rather than belts. A reader writes, "Suspenders are an important part of male Amish dress for both men and boys. There is a local Indiana store that specializes in Amish clothing, although it contains no illustrations--just the list of items. But the catalog makes it quite clear that suspenders are vital because the Amish boys do not wear belts." Men wear actual suspenders. Boys may wear suspenderpants with suspender bands done in the same material as the pants. Amish men do not have mustaches, but they grow beards after they marry. The Amish do not have distinctive children's dress. Boys wear the same clothes as men. The only clothing difference I know of is that many Amish boys go barefoot in the summer. The Amish feel these distinctive, but plain clothes encourage humility and separation from the world. Their clothing is not a costume; it is an expression of their faith.

Headwear

Amish men and boys wear black or straw broad-brimmed hats when outside. Girls and women wear bonnets. The broad-brimmed straw hats are one of the most destinctive items of Amish dress. Both the men and boys werar them. The straw hats are for summer. The black wool hats are worn in the winter. Boys begin wearing the hats at about age 2 years. There are differences. Younger boys concervative men, older men, and ministers common wore rounded-crown hats. This was a cery popular boys' hat style in the 19th century. We suspect that more Amish boys and men wore it at the time. Now most Amish boys by about age 10 years wear what is called a "telescope" hat with a flat top. Creases are pressed into the crown's inner edge. We now noitice even younger boys wearing the telescope hats. These telescope hats are worn by youths and men until about age 40 years.

Dresses

Not all Amish clothing adhere to traditional styles an convention. We know that it was quite common as late as the 19th century to oufit younger boys in dresses. Sone very traditional Amish parents do this until about age 1. A few do it on Sunday to recognize the old traditions. Most Amish now, however, have agopted the rather modern practice of dressing even infant boys in pants. The reason seems to be the modern fear of confusing gender images. [Kraybill, p. 63.]

Shirts

Men and boys wore solid-colored shirts. They are bade without collars. We mostly see white and blue shirts, but there are other colors. Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons.

Suits

Amish men and boys wear dark-colored suits with straight-cut coats without lapels. Their suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes rather than buttons. We see boys wearing vests rather than suit coats. We see the boys wearing vests when dressing up such as on sunday for church. When working men and boys wear black sack suit. At age 16 years they wear a frovk coat with is worn when dressing up. It is called a Mutze. [Kraybill, p. 63.]

Trousers

Amish boys mostly wear dark, often black broadfall trousers held up by suspenders. This is in keeping with the basic theme of using plain fabrics, primarily dark in color. Boys of all ages always wear long trousers. There are no creases or cuffs on the trousers. Interestingly, the commitment to the traditional do not extend into using only 19th century fabrics. Both men and boys commonly wear everyday pants made of Triblend Denim. This fabric was formerly used by sears to make Toughskin pants. It is a blended cotton-polyester fabric that is high in polyester and nylon wjich makes the pants highly durable. More conservative Amish prefer a dress Triblend that is identifiable because it ia a darker navy blue than a regular denim panta. Other Amish use a medium-blue Triblend that is similar to regular jeans. Amish pants do not have hip pockets or zippers. We are not sure why they so not have pockets because pockets are so populat, but it is probably because they were not common in the 19th century. Perhaps the most destinctive aspect of Amish pants is that suspenders (braces) are worn rather than belts. A reader writes, "Suspenders are an important part of male Amish dress for both men and boys. There is a local Indiana store that specializes in Amish clothing, although it contains no illustrations--just the list of items. But the catalog makes it quite clear that suspenders are vital because the Amish boys do not wear belts." Belts are forbidden. While the Amish do not wear belts, they do make and sell belts. The Amish work with leather because of the need for horse tackle. Given those skills, some have develooped a business selling leather goods, including belts to the non-Amish. A typical advertisemet reads, "When you want an extra heavy ultra tough belt, a USA made belt, you just can`t beat these. Nothing fancy but the toughest belt we have ever sold." Men wear actual suspenders. Boys may wear suspender pants with suspender bands done in the same unelasticized material as the pants, but many boys also wear suspenders. We are not sure why suspenders are worn rather than belts. One source says that it is because suspenders are more effective than belts in hilding up pants, that is more effective. We suspect that it is primarily because suspenders were mostly worn in the 19th century when Amish clothing styles were largely set.

Hosiery

We mostly see black socks.

Footwear

Amish men and boys wear low-cut black leather shoes. One source says they wear brown shoes for work zand blavl shoes when dressing up. Boys snd girls commonly go barefoot during the summer. We see the children carryoing their shoes to school We are not sure why that was. Perhaps there was a state regulation abput wearing shoes at school. The Amish do not have distinctive children's dress. Boys wear the same clothes as men. The only clothing difference I know of is that many Amish boys go barefoot in the summer. We do not know to what extent this was from preference or to what extent the parents encouraged them to go barefoot. We note some boys wearing dark-colored sneakers. We are not sure how common that was. We mostly notice both boys and girls wearing black leather shoes when theu are not barefoot.

Hair

There is no definitive Amish hair style. This would be diifult because peoples heads and hair are different. There is, however, a very common style with Amish boys. We commonly see boys wearing their hair cut even with the earblobe. This might be called a bowl cut which is how many mothers cut their sons' hair. This was how many boys in rural areas had their hair cut during the 19th century which is presumably why it became so common among the Amish. It was a simole practical sollution which further recommdnded it to the Amish. A very large number of Amish boyscwear their hair in thiscstyle and even some teenagers. The hair is not parted. Boys commonly wear bangs cut about half way down the forehead. Amish men do not have mustaches, but they grow beards after they marry. Men do not wear mustaches because in the 19th century they were associasted witn soldiers and the military. [Kraybill, p. 63.]

Sources

Kraybill, Donalf B. The Riddle of Amish Culture.







HBC




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Created: 10:14 PM 8/30/2007
Last updated: 8:35 PM 11/12/2010