This is a photo I came across recently on Flickr. Two Amish men try out hats at Yoder Department Store in Shipshewana, Indiana. What do you notice here?
First, briefly on the location. Yoder’s is a department store that sells men’s and women’s clothing as well as fabrics and sewing supplies. The clientele is both Amish and English. It’s located in Yoder’s Shopping Center, which also houses Yoder’s Hardware.
Zooming in a bit, you can see these men’s clothing styles are quite different.
The look of the man on the right, with the lighter trousers and no suspenders, is pretty common for northern Indiana.
Not all Amish men wear suspenders for everyday wear, particularly in the Midwest. Here are a couple of other examples of the baggy short-sleeved shirt look with no suspenders, from the RV factories of the region:
In the photo we can also see some accessories, including a “Hat Saver.”
If you were wondering, the Hat Saver has a hinge on one end which attaches to the roof of your vehicle, and safely secures your hat when you’re not wearing it while driving. A sound idea.
Back to the hats. Did you notice all the styles available? You can see these are not all Amish hats.
[Or, could the white model actually be the Jonas Stutzman commemorative edition? (Stutzman was a pioneer Amishman who became known for dressing in white clothing).]
The second man is checking out a hat over in that section. This man has a bigger beard and somewhat plainer look. Is he from a different community?
You might also be wondering, how often do Amish men buy hats?
Here’s an answer provided by the Scribbler column of Lancaster Online. He’s writing more from the perspective of the Lancaster Amish, a more agricultural community than northern Indiana. But you can get a general idea here of hat-buying and wearing customs:
A straw hat worn in the field all spring “begins looking a little dilapidated by summer,” says one source. “By the time it’s fall, it’s time to chuck it in the stove or the corn chopper.”
A good wool or felt hat, if worn every day, will last all winter. A hat worn only for Sunday services might last 10 years.
Many Amish men have three hats: a straw hat for summer, a black work hat for winter and a Sunday-go-to-meeting hat.
The wide selection of cowboy and other style headwear in Yoder’s suggests this store gets a lot of non-Amish business (here’s their website if you’re curious).
In fact, according to the site, they only have five “Amish” models in stock (at least that they advertise online; there appear to be more in the photo), with prices ranging from about $37 to $100 for a church hat.
As for other products, the sewing and fabric items are unsurprisingly a hit with Amish. Here’s a bit from a blog post on the store by one of Yoder’s suppliers, Moda Fabrics:
She notes that Bella solids are also especially popular. “We kind of focus on them, because many of our guests can’t find them in their local shops.” Amish customers who sew their own clothing also appreciate them. “We’ve noticed a trend of young Amish ladies purchasing 100% cotton for their little boys shirts,” says Candice Parker, the fabrics department manager. “In the past they were using blends.”
I’ve actually never been to Yoder’s. Maybe some of you have. Seems like a good spot with a lot of history, dating back to the founders buying a dry goods store in nearby Topeka way back in 1945.
In any case, the place gave us a nice slice of Amish life today. I wonder if these two fellows found what they were looking for?
Photo by dclmeyer.