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Who are the Mennonites?

Mennonite Stew - A Glossary

Clothing

What women wear varies greatly depending on the Mennonite group in question. For the more modern Mennonites, dress is not an issue. The only standard is that women are encouraged to dress modestly, and persons interpret that differently. Women wear slacks and jeans as well as dresses. In the summer, you would find many wearing shorts. The style is not dictated by leadership. Men can also wear anything they want but are also encouraged to dress modestly and simply. Newer Mennonites including Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians that now make up 20-25 percent of the membership, would not be substantially different from the surrounding culture on this issue.

More conservative Mennonite groups dress in a more distinctive way, in order to encourage humility, modesty, and separation from mainstream society. The specifics of dress vary quite a bit, depending on how conservative a group is, and in these churches, style is decided by leadership and tradition. In most conservative groups, women wear dresses and coverings (see Glossary entry “coverings”), but these can range from the “cape” dresses and large bonnet-type coverings worn by Old Order women, to denim skirts and smaller lacier coverings worn by younger women in less conservative groups.

The range of acceptability does make it somewhat difficult for visitors to know how to dress on a Sunday morning. Even in modern Mennonite churches, some congregations dress quite formally, or gravitate towards the extremely casual. Visitors will generally be welcomed regardless of their dress, but if a person wishes to blend in, it would be safe for men to wear slacks and a button-down shirt, and for women to wear a simple skirt and top.



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