Amish dress practices are slow to change because they are viewed as religious precepts. But change they do, and not only for utilitarian reasons. Amish fashion – change for the sake of change – exists, but it is subtle, slow, and miniscule. For instance, for many years baby boys typically wore dresses until they were toilet trained, but that practice is changing, as some parents worry that a dress on a baby boy may lead to gender confusion when he grows up. A more progressive mother, with a wink to tradition, may take her baby boy to church in a dress one time and thereafter dress him in trousers and shirt. Individual signs of rebellion or boundary testing include, for women, wearing prayer kapps that are smaller and thus expose more of the ear, kapps with untied strings, kapps with pronounced heart-shaped designs on the back, dresses in brighter colours, decorative pins on jacket lapels, and small frills and ruffles on sleeves. In addition, women’s dresses are now longer than they were in the past. The waistbands, which had been dropped toward the hips, are now at the waist. The pleats on the sleeves of short-sleeved summer dresses have changed and, occasionally, teenage girls add decorative buttons to those sleeves. To circumvent the prohibition of pockets on shirts, some men wear a leather pouch on their suspenders to hold pens, and more progressive men are likely to wear short-sleeved shirts. Occasionally, they may wear a window-pane patterned shirt or a cherry red shirt, both of which exceed traditional patterns of decorum. Other widely accepted changes in the last decade involve more and brighter colour choices, athletic shoes worn in work settings and Velcro, which, in a nod of respect to the taboo on buttons, is frequently used to fasten coats and other clothing items instead of hooks and eyes and straight pins. However, none of these glimmers of fashion would ever appear in a Sunday worship service, where conformity to the dress code is paramount.
Primary Source Reader BEFORE 1877