I have always found some religious groups intriguing since my days at theology school. I took a special interest in the Mennonites since I have always been fashion-oriented and discovered that they have a unique style of dressing. I was privileged to be part of a Christian group that visited Canada to learn more about the Mennonites and got the chance to interact with many of them firsthand. About two weeks ago, someone in my college class asked me about the dress code of the Mennonites. Having lived among them, I had all the answers at my fingertips. So, what do Mennonites wear?
Mennonites are conservative in their dressing. The women wear long dresses that do not expose their skin or loose skirts that cover their shoulders. On the other hand, Mennonite men wear suits, long pants, and buttoned-down shirts. Most Mennonites do not wear makeup or jewelry, and some cover their heads with a small bonnet. Mennonites display modesty and simplicity in their style of dressing.
In this article, I invite you to join me as we delve into the dressing rules of the Mennonites. Keep reading to find out the restrictions they have about clothing, the colors of clothes they wear, whether they wear makeup and much more.
What are the restrictions on clothing for Mennonite women?
Since Mennonites are a conservative group, their women do not dress like any other women. They are always encouraged to dress modestly. Traditionally, they wear cape dresses which combine a dress and a cape. These are full and long dresses that are not designed to conceal much of the body.
Mennonites are strict in how women should dress since even the cape dresses are quite basic and feature a plain style. They have a double layer of fabric that covers the bodice and a high neckline to cover the neck area. Their dresses often feature buttons and not zippers for easy washing.
Since times have changed, Mennonite women also wear a skirt and blouse or shirt. However, they do not wear sleeveless blouses since their shoulders should always remain covered.
The restrictions on the clothing for the Mennonite women are to prevent temptation. It also shows that women are submissive to God.
What are the restrictions on clothing for Mennonite men?
Like women, Mennonite men also dress simply to encourage modesty and humility. They wear button-down shirts and long pants. They are not fond of zippers on their shirts. Their shirts are mostly solid colors and are sometimes collared.
During casual settings, Mennonite men are allowed to wear a t-shirt and jeans. Young men also maintain the same dress code and sometimes wear long shorts. However, Mennonite men do not wear tight pants. On the contrary, they wear slacks. During service, Mennonite men wear formal clothing. Mennonite men are also fond of straw hats and suspenders. Their clothes are not flashy and do not feature intricate patterns. They dress modestly to avoid drawing attention to themselves. They believe that they should avoid vanity in their mode of dressing.
Why do Mennonite women wear small bonnets?
Mennonite women have been wearing small bonnets since the 18th century. They wear bonnets to preserve their culture and show that they respect their traditions. Since the Mennonites are a Christian group, they follow the Bible and abide by the scripture, which instructs women to cover their heads while praying (1st Corinthians 11:4-6)
Wearing a small bonnet is not only done to honor God, but it is also believed to signify submission and modesty. This prayer cap signifies submission to their church leaders and husbands.
Wearing small bonnets also represents belonging to this community and reminds the women that they are members of the group. Some scholars also suggest that Mennonite women wear small bonnets since it reminds them to pray often and live a holy life. They imply that this practice is their way of expressing their faith.
Do Mennonites wear special clothes?
Yes. Mennonites dress differently from the rest of the world. For instance, they wear long dresses that cover most body parts, contrary to other people that wear miniskirts that reveal too much skin. Their mode of dressing, therefore, separates them from modern society.
Additionally, their mode of dressing reflects their religious beliefs, which emphasize being of service to others and portraying humility. They prefer loose clothes that are more comfortable and do not focus on being fashionable like everyone else. Their clothes are mostly plain and simple looking.
Mennonites avoid unnecessary adornment or decoration in their clothing. They believe that God calls them to a life of service and simplicity. Since they try to follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice and humility, they express their commitment to him by dressing conservatively. Through their mode of dressing, you can tell that the Mennonites strive to treat their bodies sacred (1st Corinthians 6:19-20)
Do all Mennonites wear head coverings?
No. The Mennonite church has over 40 different groups that have varying dressing rules. Since some of them are less restrictive than others, not all Mennonites nowadays wear head coverings. Apart from communities such as the Old Colony Mennonites, which encourage their women to wear head coverings at all times, other churches no longer put the wearing of head coverings mandatory.
Some do not even wear head coverings when going to church. In some Mennonite communities, the head coverings are pretty small, while in other Mennonite communities, women wear a head covering in the form of an opaque hanging veil or a Kapp. Discontinuing the wearing of head covering became a trend in the late 20 century.
Do Mennonite women wear makeup?
Yes. Mennonite women can wear makeup as long as it is light. However, they are not allowed to wear makeup, which leads to the spirit of vanity. Note that not all Mennonite women are allowed to wear makeup. Some Mennonite churches are strict and do not encourage this.
They believe that wearing makeup is a way of seeking attention, and it may distract people as they worship. They also argue that wearing too much makeup makes one forget about the virtue of humility. Some strict Mennonite churches do not allow the wearing of makeup since it does not reflect inner values. Though wearing makeup is a personal choice, the Mennonites believe that it does not make one more respectable than a person with no makeup.
Do Mennonite women wear jewelry?
Not all Mennonite women wear jewelry, but some do accessorize their clothes with light jewelry. For instance, the less strict Mennonite women put on belts with their dresses. Such Mennonites try to keep their jewelry as simple and as minimal as possible to avoid going against their core values.
On the other hand, conservative Mennonites do not wear any form of jewelry, including wedding rings, since they obey God’s word, which tells us that we should not let our adorning be external in 1st Peter 3:3-4.
Such conservative Mennonites avoid jewelry, including wedding rings. If, for instance, such a group has a wedding, the groom gives the bride a used token like a Bible rather than giving her jewelry like a wedding ring.
What colors do Mennonites wear?
Mennonites prefer dressing in clothes with neutral or muted colors. For instance, reformed Mennonite women traditionally wore grey dresses, while men wore plain shirts or plain suits. When it comes to their head coverings, most Mennonite women wear white or brown ones.
Though they do not wear very flashy colors that draw people’s attention, the less conservative Mennonites are more colorful than stricter churches. They sometimes put on simple patterned dresses. When it comes to color, the Mennonites are more liberal than the Amish.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.