The Cap Says it All

I finally took the Big Step in Plainhood, and bought a beautiful Mennonite cap. I love it, and I didn’t think I would.

I’ve been wearing caps that I sewed myself, which was fine, except they were soft caps, on a seventeenth century design, sort of the ubiquitous European everyone-wears-one-if-you’re-medieval type. It said “headcovering” but it didn’t say front line headcovering, carrying the banner Plain.

With the starched white cap, the cape and apron, the no-button dresses I now have, I am so Plain.

Some of the more critical of you,especially if you can’t imagine giving up jeans, may think I’ve lost my marbles. Some may make snide comments about misplaced historicity and Amish wannabes. Neither is the case.

Since seminary I looked for the right way to dress as a Christian woman that said, “I’m so definitely Christian, you can’t make a mistake.” Well, a nun’s habit wouldn’t do, for obvious reasons. that says that you have taken a very particular vow, which I haven’t taken. But the cap and cape dress say, no vows, just being Christian.

It’s a mistake to think all Plain people must be Amish or Mennonite, or Old Order, or even Anabaptist. There were Conservative Quakers longbefore the Amish came to North America; Plain Catholics have been around for about a hundred years. Veil wearing sisters have been in other denominations for generations now. Plain is Plain, no matter what the church affiliation.


16 thoughts on “The Cap Says it All

  1. I just bought 3 more cape dresses. They are a bit smaller than my current ones in the hope that I will fit into them soon. I did that last year and am wearing those dresses now.

    I really want a soft cap like the German Baptist variety that covers the ears in flannel to wear as a night cap. How hard are they to make?

    • They are really easy. I have sewn them by hand as well as machine. Shepherd’s Hill website has instructions; it’s basically a truncated circle, with a rectangular brim. The cap part is gathered or pleated onto the brim, whichever is easiest for you. For a night cap, use twill tape as someone suggested here once, rather than ribbon, for the ties.

  2. Magdalena, I’d love to see a picture of your new outfit. I’m not called to be Plain, I like my florals. Also, we have cats and I can’t vacuum enough to keep the hair off plain clothes 🙂 I’m so glad you are happy with your new outfits.

    • Not all Plain people are austere Plain like me! I often see Mennonite women around here in floral prints with a small cap or a veil. I think most of us would consider them Plain! And the cat hair problem is one that priests and pastors have contended with for centuries, I think. The Rule is: Never get a white pet.

      • Magdelaina,

        Its wonderful your new cap and dresses are working out so well. RE pet fur getting onto everything, as a guide dog owner, I am more than a little familliar with this, hence, after my first GD, a golden Lab, from thereon in, I have requested black labbies every time; my old girl is coming up to retirement very very soon (She’ll be 10 in March, and while that’s not old as such for a labbie, she is starting to slow down a bit, or, rather, sleep more and her reflexes may not be as up to spotting that rogue cyclist who won’t obey traffic regs when I’m about to cross the street… 🙂 so, its off to a good home for her (we’ve no room for two in our handkerchief urban back garden) with all such entales, and a new young thing to become accustomed to…) and black it’ll be, again. There is far less of an issue (black dog hair seems to have different properties to golden) with black hair on light clothing compared to that of light dog hair on dark clothing, in contrast as well as amount.

        I have uber fine hair and wear it in a rounded bun, covered with a buncover, (wear a lace kerchief over that 70-80% of the time) I’d like to experiment with a mini mesh cap (rather like a large buncover) but dread the profusion of pins and clips I’d need to hold the thing in place! So, no white Persian cat if one is plain or a minister who wears clerical attire, eh?!! 🙂 …



      • We keep sticky rollers all ove r the place to get off the GR hair – I sometimes roll the furniture right at leg level, because she’s brushed against the upholstery, and I don’t want to transfer it to all the pant legs and hemlines in the house.

        I’ve thought about the mini-cap, but never tried it. Many Mennonite women wear them here. They remind me of the crocheted buncovers my grandmother used to make for us – maybe that’s where my interest in covering started! They do use a lot of pins to secure them, though. It’s possible to order white bobby pins from Plainly Dressed if you want white caps.

  3. I’m always amazed that the caps (both regular and mini) are usually pinned on: literally pinned with straight pins from the sewing box. I tried and just can’t get it right so I use bobby pins when wearing a mesh cap.

    • When I first tried pinning on my cap, I had scratches on my head. I got better at it, but the clippies are working for me. They won’t break my hair if I handle them carefully. Bobby pins work well as long as they still hve their plastic tips. Toss them if the ends come off or they will certainly tear your hair and maybe your cap!

  4. Magdelaina,

    Sticky rollers work well; though I do admit a soft spot for the black or chocolate labrador…

    I’ve found white bobby pins listed on the Plainly Dressed site; I’ve worn bobbypin buncovers only rarely – ever in fear of a ‘wardrobe malfunction’; and more often than not, the thing has worked itself clear after an hour or two out and about. I wear crochet buncovers and stretch coloured net buncovers that stay on because they’re strongly elasticized and seem to combine well with the scrunchies I use to put my hair up (wind into a bun once a ponytail and pull the stretch buncover over this). From your article further up, I think I’d be classed as ‘plain’ (of the floral and pastel varietyIts odd; I haven’t felt myself specifically led to Plain, though that’s how it has turned out 90% of the time (though my imperial purple dress from ‘The King’s Daughters’ would likely not be considered ‘plain’… I understand your position on the Clerical collar, also; is there a semi forgotten, uncommon yet traditional/historic ladies’ alternative? or is there something you could come up with that your Bishops could be steered toward? ARe there historic traditions that have ordained women (I know Unitarians have for centuries but they’ve seemed to have gone off on their own odd tangent this past half century or so)…



    • I wear purple quite a bit; it’s always been a Plain colour – it can be dyed as madder over indigo rather than the more expensive protein based dyes. Not that most of us dye our own textiles anymore. I only do after spinning.

      As for traditional women’s clerical dress, Plain is as close as it gets. I’ll leave the Unitarians out of the argument, as they are not Trinitarian. Quakers were the most significant group to commission women to preach. They were often jailed for it. Some dedicated women (nuns) taught, wrote and preached, most notably Hilde of Whitby and Hildegard of Bingen. There were many others, including the Counter-Reformation’s Teresa of Avila. Anglican and Lutheran deaconesses – usually teachers and nurses – wore clerical dress that was very much like traditional Quaker dress. The Salvation Army uniforms of the nineteenth century were in their day quite old-fashioned, with the close bonnet and serge tunic. I guess that could make my case.

  5. Magdelaina,

    Hildegard of Bingen is a mighty yet humble herroine of God! She, the others you’ve mentioned, along with Julian of Norwitch are fantastic examples of what women can and should be doing for God, and should be permitted to do for Him in the service of Christ. You’ve got a fantastic point re the Salvation Army uniform and women providing an example that we can draw upon for feminine ministerial dress.

    I might order a mesh mini cap in black and see how it goes, and one in white.

    last time I checked, had some readymades, some in smaller sizes, that might be what you’re looking for.



    • You might try the u shaped Amish hairpins to hold the minicaps on. I think they will go through the mesh without tearing.

      Hildegard was an herbalist – I have one of her books. Julian’s name is similar to my birth name; Hilde of Whitby reminds me of my late mother-in-law, who was a spirited East Ender named Hilda. All of them had great influence in their day. Hildegard and Hilde were the equivalent of bishops, and Julian, altough an anchorite, was well known for her teachings.

  6. I have a question…I’ve recently been feeling the Lord’s call to go plain (I’m also Anglican by the way), but I don’t sew (trying to learn though), so I only have one cape dress so far. The rest of my wardrobe consists of long ankle length skirts and long sleeved shirts in subdued tones (often solid black, white or navy). Recently a friend purchased for me a plain mennonite cap. My question is this, what is your opinion on wearing a cap that is traditionally associated with plain mennonites with clothing that, while modest, is still not viewed as plain (at least until I sew another plain dress or so). I’d love to wear my new cap, but without the plain dress to go with it would it be wrong for me to wear it? (right now I’m wearing kerchiefs for my covering).

    • I have often seen Beachy Amish and some mennonite women in long skirts, simple blouses and their kapps. I do it myself when the cape dress isn’t practical. I try to keep the outfit kind of monochromatic, with no patterns – but that’s me. It may look ridiculous to your eyes with anything but the simplest of modest dress! You won’t be insulting anyone. I had to start dressing plain with what I owned, and never was uncomfortable with the kapp, a blouse and a skirt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s