So I was in a general store in Shipshewana a few months ago, waiting for Junior to finish some shopping. (I have talked about Junior before; he is a 29-year-old single Amishman my husband often drives for, and whom we have unofficially ‘adopted.’)
I started taking a look at the “Sunday suits” that Amishmen wear for church, weddings, and funerals. All of them are made in the same style, and always in black with a white shirt. Some women make them for their husbands and sons, but they are more complicated than the typical Amish clothes, so often they are purchased off-the-rack or custom made. They are very well made, I noticed, with quality materials and linings and a high quality of construction, so they are not inexpensive!
The above photo shows the jacket, pants, and always-white shirt. The suit is called a “mutza” in the Pennsylvania Dutch language. The long-sleeved white shirt is much like an “English” dress shirt, and is seldom homemade.
The jacket differs from an typical “English” men’s suit in the plain collar and the lack of front buttons or outside pockets. (Hooks and eyes are used to fasten the jacket.) The Amish avoid buttons on nearly all clothing except the small buttons on children’s clothing and boys/men’s shirts and on the front of men’s pants, as buttons represented the military back in Switzerland and Germany, and the Amish were often persecuted for their refusal to serve in the military.
The vest is an important part of the ensemble. In hot weather, the jacket is taken off or not worn—just the vest, which is much cooler. I noticed that the price tag on the vest was $79.95.
The pants differ the most from an “English” men’s suit. Like all Amishmen’s pants, they are an old style called “broadfall pants”—which is to say, they are not closed by a fly, but rather by four buttons across the top of a large panel. (I have lightened the black color of the photo in order to show the details.) Suspenders are worn with the pants, not a belt.
Black dress shoes complete the ensemble, along with a black felt hat. I have noticed that the hats run about $120 and are very high quality. The men take very good care of them! These felt hats are worn only for dress occasions.
Driving by a church gathering, wedding, or funeral and seeing the dozens of men and boys in their black and white dress clothes is very impressive. Much expense and care go into their Sunday clothes, and it shows.
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For more on Amish clothing, see this series of excellent articles
by Erik Wesner on his website amishamerica.com.