Reader Jim Halverson, who gave us a look at the Amish of Lagrange County, Indiana last summer, recently attended Yoder’s Consignment Auction in the same community.

Jim spotted differences in the styles of clothing of those in attendance – particularly noticeable in the women’s dress.

Clearly the Amish at the event were not all from the same community (not a surprise for a large auction). What do you notice as far as differences in these photos?

First, here are some photos of Amish women and girls with similar dress and kapp styles:

Jim found this next group of photos to show distinctly different dresses. What do you notice? What community or communities might these dress styles be from?

There was also someone wearing a black dress. Amish women wear black dresses to signify a period of mourning after losing a loved one.

The dress communicates something to those in her community. It’s a reminder that she has lost someone close to her (for more, see The Amish pp. 246-7).

The amount of time a woman will wear the black dress can vary by local custom, or based upon how close the relationship was – e.g., a closer relation like a spouse or parent, vs. a more distant relation like an aunt or first cousin.

Here is something different. Are these women Amish?

Note the covering style, how it sits on the head, and also the hairstyle.

Two women in this next photo stand out.

Zooming in closer:

There is a small Old Order Mennonite settlement not far from this Amish community.

Finally, in this photo, Jim notices three different styles of kapp on the women on the right:

Zooming in a bit:

And even closer. Looking carefully you can notice the style of each of these three kapps is distinct:

For comparison, we had a look at different Amish women’s kapp styles earlier this year (see this post for more examples).

Here you can see subtle but clear differences in the styles, captured in this single shot.

Plain clothing: different styles, worn for similar reasons

The above examples of women’s clothing (excluding the Mennonite photos) can all be considered both “Plain” and “Amish”.

Yet the styles are clearly different. These differences are immediately noticeable to Amish people, who grow up and live everyday immersed in their local styles.

And as we see in several of the above photos, Mennonites and other plain Anabaptists also wear their own distinct styles of clothing.

Some Amish have more conservative – “plainer” – styles of dress than others. You can notice this in things like the color of the material, the amount of material, the cut and so forth.

In some communities you will see brighter colors in women’s or girls’ dresses – yellows, pinks and even shades of red.

In others, dark browns, purples, and blues are the firm standard.

An auction, or other gathering that brings in people from other communities (a wedding or a funeral for example), are prime opportunities to notice these differences in one place.

No matter the exact style, Amish and related groups choose to wear Plain clothing for a number of important reasons, including modesty, practicality, and identity.

If you’d like to know more about Plain clothing, and on the differences across the many Amish and other Plain groups, Why Do They Dress That Way? by Stephen Scott is a great resource.

And a special thanks to Jim for sharing the photos.

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