Amish Caps & Bonnets

Woman reading a book while sitting on black leather 3-seat couch.jpg

The design of caps and bonnets in use by the Amish date back to the types of head coverings worn in the German Palatinate during the 1800s. Although styles are similar, variations occur in different Amish communities and according to whether the group is high (more progressive) or low (more orthodox) Amish.

1 Caps

Beginning from ages four to 12, caps are worn by all females when appearing outside the home. Unmarried women wear black caps. Married women wear white caps and in most orders a black bonnet over the cap when traveling or in church. In some orders they are worn at all times, even when sleeping.

2 Materials

White caps, also called prayer caps or kapps, are made of organdy or muslin that has a variable amount of starching. Low orders use little starch and high orders have heavily starched caps. Bonnets are made of muslin or wool.

3 Styles

Caps have a straight band in front with a pleated or gathered back portion. They may or may not have ties. Sometimes the back portion is heart-shaped. Slat bonnets are worn by Old Order Amish, where strips or slats of cardboard are put into the forward-projecting bonnet part, and the rear curtain goes down to the shoulders.

4 Sources

Caps are usually purchased from a skilled woman within the Amish community or ordered via catalog or online. In past times, they were individually made by women for themselves and family members.

Carolyn Csanyi began writing in 1973, specializing in topics related to plants, insects and southwestern ecology. Her work has appeared in the "American Midland Naturalist" and Greenwood Press. Csanyi holds a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.