All Amish men and boys wear suspenders with a colorful shirt and of course the straw hat. Their pants are always black or denim along with black shoes if they wear them at all during the summer months.
An Amish family will dress their children in the same color, possibly to identify them from a distance.
Amish clothing styles encourage humility and separation from the world and are a practical expression of their faith. The Amish fashion styles are simple and meant to be functional. Clothing is made at home of plain fabrics and is primarily dark in color, including shades of purple, blue, wine, brown, grey and black. Lighter colors are used for younger children and summer shirts and dresses for adults in some groups.
Amish men wear straight-cut suits and coats without collars, lapels or pockets. They resemble the Nehru jackets of the 70’s and are called mutza suits. During the summer they’ll shed the coat and wear a vest to church. The fabric of choice ranges from a double knit polyester, warp knit, triple knit or Swedish knit to various gabardines based on the group they are with. Most men would wear black. There is black and then there is BLACK. A close look at a black fabric will show there are brown, blue and gray shades of black clothing in the broader market. In the Amish community it needs to be the blackest black there is. In other Amish settlements the groups vary and will use charcoal grays, light grays, navy blues or browns.
Their trousers never have creases or cuffs and are worn with suspenders. The young children have gallas (suspenders) made of the same fabric as the pants. Belts are forbidden, as are sweaters and neckties. Men’s shirts fasten with traditional buttons in most orders, while suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. Their pants are made with a flap in the front held closed by buttons to avoid the use of a zipper.
Young men are clean shaven prior to marriage, while married men are required to let their beards grow. Mustaches are forbidden because they are considered to be adornment. Haircuts are typically block cut in the back and longer than most English styles. The most severe haircuts are found among the Swartzentruber Amish, the most conservative group.
The men typically wear broad brimmed felt hats in the winter and for dress year round. The width of the brim and the shape of the dome vary with the group. During the summer most groups will allow their men to wear stroh hoots or straw hats. The style of straw hat also lends a clue to the group the man is from. In the winter in some northern climates men are allowed to wear tsiple kops or knit caps.
For everyday most men and boys wear pants made of a fabric called Triblend Denim. It was used at one time by Sears to make Toughskin pants. It’s high in polyester and nylon making the pants made with that fabric highly durable. The more conservative groups use a dress triblend that is a darker navy than a regular denim pant. Other groups use the medium blue triblend that is more like the typical jeans.
In the English (non Amish) community most jeans are made with 100% cotton. That allows for breathability and comfort. The fading and fraying that is common over time makes the 100% cotton denim unpopular in the Amish community. The women who have to make pants for their men don’t want to tackle that task any more than they have to. If they have several boys in the family they can spend all their time sewing. The Triblend holds up better, doesn’t fade and won’t snag as easily. It’s the perfect fabric for a working man’s pants being used on the farm or in a shop of some kind.
During the summer some men will have their women make them a poly/cotton blend pant for the hotter weather. This is called a Dacron Denim after the name of the polyester fiber that is used to make it in a blend with cotton. A 65% polyester and 35% cotton blend is best. Navy blue is the most popular color although some use gray.
Most men and boys wear handmade shirts of a poly/cotton blend. They’ll settle for a 50/50 blend but would rather have a broadcloth of higher polyester content. That allows for ease of drying on the wash line and no ironing. That’s another hot task that most Amish women would like to avoid. The shirts will be made of oxford cloth, end on end chambrays or just plain chambrays. Again, 100% cotton fabrics are avoided because of fading and wrinkling.
Younger boys dress a lot like their fathers with the exception that they usually wear lighter colors. The men will wear navy Triblend Denim pants while the boys may wear a lighter blue version of the same fabric. If the men wear charcoal gray mutza suits, the boys will wear a lighter gray version of the fabric.