Amish: Dress Design by Ordnung

amish_women_in_buggy You belong to the Swartzentruber Amish sect.

But not to the Old Order; they have become much too modernized for your taste.

Instead of following more diligently the laws of the Old Order Ordnung – which dictate every aspect of Amish lifestyle from wardrobe to hair length for women, from buggy laws to farming techniques for men – the Old Order Ordnung, sadly, in your opinion, began embracing all manner of 21st century evils.

The women began wearing bright colors, like blues that weren’t navy, browns that were nearly beige, and grays that may as well be dingy white. And the men brought electricity into their homes – even telephones, for heaven’s sake! Everyone knows that a telephone in the home is a direct connection to the wickedness of the outside world.

Owning vain items, creating inequality within the community, and destroying the family structure is not something you care to embrace, thank you very much.

You, proudly, belong to the honorable sect of Swartzentruber Amish – the True Old Order. The sect that wisely branched off from the modernizing Old Order. You follow the True Old Order Ordnung – the most conservative and restrictive laws of all Amish Ordnungs.

You are an honorable Amish woman.

You awaken before dawn each morning, pray, and dress carefully according to True Old Order Ordnung guidelines,

Beginning with your underwear.

You step into them one leg at a time, just like everyone else in the world. Though, how wayward women can wear ‘panties’ is beyond your scope of comprehension. You’ve seen those hellish ‘panties,’ obviously designed for sexual arousal. You cannot imagine how a decent, God-fearing woman could own, much less wear, such a corrupt item.


Your Amish underwear, blessedly, is chaste.

The material is thick, substantial. The leg length covers to mid-thigh, as stipulated by the Ordnung. Though the color is permitted to be white, you prefer dark colored underwear, as it is more chaste. And shouldn’t the item closest to your body be the most chaste?

Of course, your underwear is definitely not store-bought. The thought of that burns your cheeks in flaming shame. As per Ordnung law, every pair has been made by hand – yours, or a close female relative. As well, there is no elastic to press in an ungodly manner against your body. You pull them up, and tie the attached fabric belt around your waist.

There is no bra to worry about – only wayward women wear those indecent things. Why, those things are practically made of elastic! The thought of anything grasping your private ‘pillows’ is repulsive. And insulting to your husband.

Like tampons.

Yes, you know about those nasty little invasions of person.

How any husband could allow his wife to put something in the most private place on her body – the place even he, himself may not enter outside of Ordnung dictates – is incomprehensible. And disrespectful!

Strips of old linen sheets are much more appropriate – not to mention washable and reusable – for a decent woman’s menses.


Next, you pull on your sleeveless blue slip (the only sleeveless garment permitted by the Ordnung). The blue, of course, is deep navy – not some other, ungodly blue. You fasten it closed with safety pins.

Some women use snaps, but that is a vanity in which you prefer not to indulge. Leave that for Old Order women; you are an honorable woman of the True Old Order.

No snaps for you.


Your Amish dress, also navy blue (though yesterday you did wear black, which you wear most often, to be sure), you fasten with more straight pins than safety pins. You realize, of course, that straight pins are less vain. But the Ordnung does not specifically prohibit safety pins.

To fasten your slip, you used more safety pins to keep from feeling stabs from straight pins on the garment closest to your flesh. However, you made up for that by fastening your outer dress with more straight pins, since you generally won’t feel them stabbing through the layers of fabric.

Buttons, of course, are vain.

And thereby prohibited by the Ordnung.

As are the vulgarity of zippers.

In line with the Ordnung, your dresses are always long-sleeved no matter the season. They are plain, completely unadorned (no patterns are permitted by the Ordnung), and sewn only of Dacron, broadcloth, rayon or polyester with seams no wider than ⅝ of an inch. The pleating in back is never more than ¾ inch wide, ironed flat but not all the way to the bottom of the dress.

amish-women-in-dresses-capsBelow the waist, the skirt is full, hiding any suggestion of body curves. And dress lengths are respectably chaste in the True Old Order: they reach the shoe tops, covering the ankle perfectly, even when walking.

Not like the lower calf-length short hems flaunted by other exhibitionist Amish women. Vain!

Sitting however, even within the True Old Order, is an issue that must still be addressed, in your opinion. Of course, there’s a cape worn over the dress, but even that has its limits as far as modesty goes.

For one, it covers only the very edge of the shoulder. And it does nothing to hide the ankles while sitting.

This is why your socks are extra-thick.

You pull them on, wearing the stipulated black or dark blue color, with absolutely no elastic or rubber in them whatsoever. But you would never be so exhibitionistic as to have them fall to the ankle. You tie them tightly around your calf, but well below the knee, with black shoestring.

As you slide into your black shoes with black laces and a small, thick heel, you wonder at the indecency of women who wear wedges, or flat shoes with no heel at all. And the ones who totter around on spike heels – God save them!

Your last outer covering is your jacket, which is required to be shorter in length than men’s jackets, and must not cover the hips.

Of course, jewelry, makeup, nail polish, perfume, or any other worldly adornment is prohibited by the True Old Order Ordnung. So, you are now fully dressed.

amish-woman's-capExcept for your cap.

Rules governing cap-wearing are strictly stipulated by the Ordnung, and ladies of all ages would be wise to adhere to them!

Your cap is white, because you are married.

Your single Amish sisters wear black caps – except girls no longer in school. But even they may wear white caps only during the week. Though different colors, all caps must meet stringent requirements: pleating and bows no more than ½ inch wide, tied according to Ordnung specifications.

As a married woman, you must wear your white cap at all times. Your single Amish sisters need only wear their black caps when they are at home during homeschooling, but never to church.

However, before you can slip on your cap, you must pin up your hair. The Ordnung does not permit you the use of scissors or razors on any part of your body. So, you may not shave your underarms or legs. Neither may you cut your hair – which is why it is extremely long and thick.


Worldly bobby pins are also prohibited by the Ordnung, and so you use specially handcrafted hair pins made to contain long, thick tresses such as yours.

Lastly, you pull on your gloves. They may be any color during the week, but on Sundays they must be dark blue, brown or black.

You are now fully attired. And you did it all without aid of a mirror.

Amish women of the True Old Order are wise enough to know that the only thing a mirror can offer is a reflection of vanity.

And so you are ready to step confidently out into the world – with your husband, of course – as a proud, honorably dressed Amish woman of the True Old Order.

In your Ordnung-sanctioned clothing, with your husband protectively in front of you, and your children at your side, you feel safe from the pointing and gawking, flashing cameras, and even outright laughter and insults you shall face from tourists in town as you shop for provisions for your family.

You feel ready…to suffer the treatment of an animal at the zoo.


If only the Ordnung could regulate human insensitivity.


What are your thoughts about Amish women’s attire?

Can you see yourself as an Amish woman?


Foreign Eyes Friday


18 thoughts on “Amish: Dress Design by Ordnung

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