Hutterites, like the Amish, dress modestly. As you can see on the cover of my book, women and girls wear long dresses with a blouse underneath it. The head covering for women is a black Tiechl, similar to a kerchief. School girls wear bonnets that may be of any colour, most often these match the dress.
Men wear dark trousers, button-down plaid or plain cotton shirts and suspenders. Some men wear a hat but in many colonies that is not a requirement. Most clothes are homemade, as Hutterite women are exceptional seamstresses. Besides clothes they also sew beautiful quilts, bedding and curtains.
In regards to how Hutterite dress compares to that of the Amish, I’d say, they both dress modestly, but Hutterite women tend to wear darker coloured dresses. The dress patterns or style is somewhat different as well. And where the Amish women wear a bonnet for a head covering, Hutterites wear a Tiechl, as mentioned above.
Since their Anabaptist beginnings in sixteenth century Europe, Hutterites have practised a modest, simple and uniform dress code. The early traditional style originates from the German and Austrian national costume: black Lederhosen and suspenders for men and boys; the Dirndl, a sleeveless dress with a blouse and an apron for women and girls.
Over the years, Hutterites have modified these to make them more serviceable and comfortable. In addition to its value as a cultural tradition, this outward symbol of unity and modesty is an integral part of their faith life, identifying and reminding them who they are as a people.
There are three distinct groups of Hutterites: Dariusleut, Lehrerleut and Schmiedenleut, each adhering to its own variations of this dress code. Of the three groups, the Schmiedenleut are the more progressive and the Lehrerleut the most conservative.
Similarities among the groups include blouses and ankle-length dresses, along with a Tiechl, head kerchief for women; dark trousers and suspenders for men. Both men and women usually wear dark jackets/coats. Children, for the most part wear lighter colours than adults, and in all three groups, young girls wear a head covering known as a Mitz, cap or bonnet.
Dariusleut: Men’s jackets are collarless and Dariusleut men are more prone to wear a hat. The women’s two-piece dress with elbow-length sleeves is relatively dark, and they wear an apron of the same fabric as the dress. Their Tiechl is black with tiny white dots. Boys wear a black homemade cap, a Katuss.
Lehrerleut: Men are dressed similarly to the Dariusleut. Women’s sleeveless dresses are somewhat lighter with an even lighter, usually plaid apron. The huge polka dots of their stiffly starched Tiechl makes it appear almost white.
Schmeidenleut: The major difference between the men of this group and the other two is that they wear many types of mostly dark- coloured casual jackets. Men’s suit jackets are similar to that of any non-Hutterite suit jackets, and in most cases homemade. Women wear either a two-piece or one-piece dress, according to preference. The Tiechl is mostly plain black. In some colonies women wear a sheer black apron to church services, though, most have eliminated it.
Of importance is that particular dress styles are cultural traditions, and for Hutterites, the goal is modest, simple clothing in uniform style, according to each Leut’s, or conference Church ordinances.
Dressing differently from mainstream society is as much a part of Hutterianism as living communally – fostering a sense of belonging to a much larger whole – in spirit of the New Testament teaching, that exhorts believers to strive for the “inner beauty” that produces a wealth of good works (1 Peter 3). This is a testimony that not only benefits others, but pleases and honours God.
While the three groups dress differently, and also have other differences such as the day-to-day operation of the colony, they all live communally. We also speak the same language, practice the same faith, use the same sermons written by our forefathers, and share the same history. There is some contact between the groups as well, through visits, phone calls and electronic connections.
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