Plain Dressed Men

Someone asked recently how men can dress Plain, as to be distinguished from some guy in jeans and a blue shirt. Plain as a conviction of a Christian witness is a powerful statement. Plain attire is as much an identiification factor as a Franciscan’s brown robe or a priest’s white collar. I’ve found some images to help those who are Plain outside traditional Plain communities.

Mennonite, 1947

The flat black hat (or flat straw hat) is associated with Plain orders. The wide brimmed hat is practical and distinctive. This older man is wearing a placket shirt and a black jacket without lapels. His square beard and lack of mustache indicate that he is Anabaptist and married (or widowed). Why the lack of mustache? Either because the mustache was associated with military rank, or to indicate the setting aside of vanity. My husband has a full beard and mustache, because he finds shaving to be very difficult with his reduced vision, but he prefers the “peace” or “brethren” beard. Some Anabaptist groups have men start their beard when they married, and a few others when they are baptized.

Amish men at barn raising

This old postcard shows young men working at a barn raising. They are wearing “broadfalls” – old-fashioned button fly trousers – with suspenders. I’ve noticed that Amish and Mennonite men have their suspender buttons sewn outside the waist band, the opposite of what I was taught by my tailoring grandmothers, that suspender (or braces) buttons go inside the waist band. They are wearing long-sleeved shirts of the basic Oxford type, with the sleeves rolled up. Most Plain men now wear blue jeans or basic dress cut trousers in a  dark colour. A few groups continue to wear broadfalls.

I would guess these men were photographed at a mud sale, or spring auction. They are more formally dressed in mutze (jacket), dark trousers and the black flat hat. Plain men do not wear neckties or belts, as both are considered indicators of fashion. Plain men used to wear just black boots, but I’ve noticed a number of even older men have taken to wearing workboots, Oxfords, and running shoes, all for practicality. My husband wears workboots, casual Oxfords, or plain black dress oxfords. He used to wear a pair of all black running shoes at work, since he was on his feet all day.

I made this plain black vest, Nicholas’s “Sunday meeting” attire, worn with a white banded collar shirt and black jeans.


6 thoughts on “Plain Dressed Men

  1. Ive made some plain dresses recently in the mode of how the Plain Lutheran sisters, Martine and Filippa, in the Danish film, “Babette’s Feast” wore: solid color, pleats down the front, with small amount of lace trim at neck and sleeve ends. if you’ve seen the film you’ll have an idea what I’m talking about. 🙂 Love that film. It is a balm for the soul.

    • I haven’t seen Babette’s Feast – which is surprising – but it is not my husband’s idea of a good movie. Lutheran deaconesses dressed much like tha tinto the twentieth century.

  2. I might offer som light as to the suspenders, here in Sweden old-fashioned work pants have buttons for suspenders and they are on the outside. Some hunting gear also have suspender buttons, on the outside. I cannot remember if formal pants with these buttons have them on the inside or on the outside as well but all suspender buttons I have seen have been on the outside so I assume this is a cultural thing. Having them on the outside might have been a custom they brought from Germany that they still follow.

    I must admit I find suspenders to be, well, sexy. I try to get R to wear them but he is skeptical so I have not very much hope of succeeding. He is naturally plain wearing mostly jeans and t-shirts and the occational non-dressy shirt. He has no conviction of being plain like me but it is what comes naturally to him and what I must struggle to even partly fulfill. Life is funny that way…

  3. About Plain dressed men, I respect Conservative Mennonite men when they dress Plain, along with their wife all the time. I knew a pastor in AZ who was CM and his wife was Plain but her husband wore jeans, short sleeved polo shirts and looked no different than any other man walking down the street. He did wear the Plain black traditional Mennonite suit to church, though.

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