Gohn Brothers, broadfalls, & men’s plain dress

A few years ago I felt led to take up the ancient Quaker tes­ti­mony of plain dress­ing. I’ve spo­ken else­where about my moti­va­tions but I want to give a lit­tle prac­ti­cal advice to other men who have heard or even got­ten ahold of the “Gohn Bros.” cat­a­log but don’t know just what to order. I cer­tainly am not sanc­tion­ing a uni­form for plain dress, I sim­ply want to give those so inclined an idea of how to start.

Just as back­ground: I’m a thirty-something Philadel­phia native, brought up with­out any for­mal reli­gion in a Philly sub­urb. I first started approach­ing Quak­ers (Friends) back in col­lege. In my early twen­ties, I started work­ing at a collectively-run paci­fist book pub­lish­ing house and liv­ing in what was then the sort of down­scale hip­ster neigh­bor­hood of West Philadel­phia. In 2002 I attended a week-long work­shop that had some plain dress­ing Friends and felt the nudge to exper­i­ment. I’ve left Philadel­phia to become a res­i­dent of a small farm­ing town in South Jer­sey (what love will do) but I still spend a lot of time in the city and in decid­edly urban set­tings. I don’t aim to be his­tor­i­cally cor­rect with my plain dress and I don’t want to sim­ply “look like an Amish” person.

Gohn Broth­ers is a store in Indi­ana that sells “Amish and Plain Cloth­ing.” It is cur­rently cel­e­brat­ing it’s 100th year in busi­ness. It’s known for it’s sim­ple print cat­a­log, which is updated every few months. It does not have a web­site. You should get a copy of the cat­a­log to get cur­rent cloth­ing and ship­ping prices. It’s address is:

PO Box 1110, 105 S. Main St., Mid­dle­bury IN 46540
Phone: (574) 825‑2400. Toll-free: 800–595-0031

When I first started “going plain,” I sim­ply wore reg­u­lar dark pants with sus­penders found at a generic depart­ment store. It was impor­tant to me that I was wear­ing clothes I already had, and I wanted to be “Sears Plain,” by which I meant I didn’t want to go to any extremes to find plain cloth­ing. When I first bought a pair of broad­falls (the zip­per­less pants favored by plain men), I didn’t wear them for months. Slowly I started started wear­ing them out and feel­ing more at ease in them. They were made of rugged denim, wore well and were quite com­fort­able.
As my pre-plain clothes have worn out, I’ve started replac­ing them with Gohn Brothers-produced broad­falls. They’re just as inex­pen­sive as any cheaply-made jeans from Old Navy but they hold up and are pre­sum­ably made in Indi­ana by seam­stresses earn­ing a decent wage.

Broad­falls

Gohn Broth­ers offers many dif­fer­ent weights and fab­rics for their broad­fall pants, num­ber­ing them for ease of order­ing. I have bought two pair, both of which I like:

  • #66: 10 oz. solid grey denim, 100% cot­ton: $22.98
  • #92: 100% cot­ton blue jean denim (11 oz.): $24.98

Coats

Gohn Broth­ers pro­duces a num­ber of coats, also called “over­shirts.” In these pur­chases I have tended to be more dis­tinctly Quaker. I have two Coats:

  • #225: 9oz. Poly, cot­ton. $41.98 at the time of this post. I have opted for a few alter­ations: A “reg­u­lar cut” for $3.00, a “standup col­lar” for $2.00, “but­ton holes with metal but­tons” for $3.00 and a “quilted lin­ing” for $5.00.
  • #125 9 oz. Black drill denim. Poly/cotton. Unlined Jacket, black drill. Alter­ations: “standup col­lar” for $2.00. (for this I had the default “snaps” in place of but­tons and the default “full cut”).

I’ve pref­ered the spe­cial­ized “reg­u­lar cut” coat over the stan­dard “full cut.” The reg­u­lar cut feels more like the stan­dard suit jacket that most pro­fes­sional men wear to work, while the full cut felt more like a wind-breaker. I also pre­fer the but­tons, as the snaps con­tributed to the wind-breaker feel.

Sus­penders

Also known as “braces,” all you need are dark broad­falls and sus­penders to really look “plain” to the world. “Tabbed” sus­penders fit over but­tons in your pants, while “clip-on’s” use alli­ga­tor clips to fas­ten onto stan­dard pants. Tabbed look bet­ter but I can’t help think­ing of Michael Dou­glass in “Wall Street”; a lot of ordi­nary anabapist men I see have clip-on’s.

I’ve heard the story that there’s a good-hearted rib­bing between the Iowa and North Car­olina Con­ser­v­a­tive Quak­ers about whether thin or wide sus­penders is more plain. I’ve started to throw my lot in with Iowa and have got­ten the three-quarter inch sus­penders. (Fash­ion­istas will remem­ber that thin sus­penders were pop­u­lar with a cer­tain kind of high school geek in the mid-1980s–think Cameron in _Ferris Beuler’s Day Off_; fair dis­clo­sure requires that I admit that I wore them around Chel­tenham High). Again Gohn Brothers:

  • #550T 3/4″ tab. Black: $7.98
  • #552C 3/4″ clip. Black: $6.98

Hats

While Gohn Broth­ers does hats, I haven’t bought any of theirs. Instead I’ve gone for the Tilley T3 hat. I’m not com­plete happy with this, as Tilley’s seem to be asso­ci­ated with a cer­tain kind of clue­less trav­eler, but I’ve noticed that there are a lot of men in my yearly meet­ing who wear them, I think as an uncon­scious nod toward plain­ness. The Tilley is also friend­lier to bike com­muters: its tie-down strings wrap eas­ily around bike han­dle­bars, and it’s very crush­able and washable.

Not a Uniform

Again, let me stress: I am not try­ing to spec­ify a mod­ern plain dress uni­form. The only time you should adopt plain dress is when you’re feel­ing actively led by it. Some­times that lead­ing is an intu­tion, which is fine, but you need to fol­low it on your own terms. My prac­tice has evolved over time and yours should too. I’ve become more plain since I started this wit­ness sim­ply because I had to replace worn clothes and couldn’t see spend­ing more money for shod­dier clothes than I could get at Gohn Broth­ers. You don’t need to get broad­falls to be “plain,” as “plain­ness” is as much a state of mind and an atti­tude toward God and your spir­i­tual com­mu­nity as it a set of clothes. I think of it now as a spir­i­tual dis­ci­pline, one very fit­ting for our con­sumeris­tic times.

I’d love to hear from oth­ers about their plain dressing.

  • Jef­frey Hipp

    Humor­ously, I was just flip­ping through the Gohn Bros. catolog I ordered as a result of the FGC din­ner­time con­ver­sa­tion with you and Zac (immor­tal­ized by a photo in pre­vi­ous post to this blog.)
    I’m con­sid­er­ing order­ing one of their coats in time for win­ter — not because I’m about to plunge head-first into plain dress, but because they seem like sim­ple, well-made, afford­able arti­cles of cloth­ing that aren’t being pro­duced by a 14-year-old girl in India. (Plus, my pre­vi­ous jacket is falling apart.) Hope­fully — as you point out — the seamstresses/seamsters are paid and treated well. The amount of cus­tomiz­ablity offered on most of the cloth­ing would lead me to believe that the crafters are folks who are tal­ented and ded­i­cated, not just exploited work­ers des­per­ate to pay the rent.
    Also, I found another resource for tra­di­tional plain cloth­ing quite some time ago, and I dug up the link for you. Plain​ly​dressed​.com — it’s a Web site run by a Seventh-day Adven­tist woman in PA.

  • http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/ Mar­tin Kelley

    Hi Jef­frey,
    One funny story about the #225 plain coat. A short time after I got it in the mail from Gohn Bros. I went to visit Julie’s father at his house. My father-in-law Tom worked twenty years for the phone com­pany as a line­man, installing heavy road­side poles in all kinds of weather. He’s not dis­cern­ably reli­gious, an all-round reg­u­lar guy, likes to bowl, has a nice new pickup. Well, it was a bit warm in the house and I draped my new coat over a din­ing room chair. Tom walks into the room and says, “hey, is that my coat? No? Well I have a coat like looks just like that.” _Huh?!!_ I think to myself, _a Gohn Bros. #225 with stand-up collar???_ “Yeah, it’s just like mine. It’s Car­rhart right?” He was refer­ring of course to the American-made, union-made work cloth­ing com­pany whose prod­ucts you can find at any Sears or army/navy store. So if you get a Gohn Bros. jacket and are har­bor­ing even the tini­est bit of pride for being “authen­ti­cally plain,” pre­pared to have your ego brought down a notch when you real­ize just how every­day this is.

  • Tim Kennedy

    I have been look­ing for a sum­mer “bucket” hat. The Tilley is pretty close. I have lots of caps, but these don’t pro­tect the ears & back of the neck from sun. I was suprised by the prices of the items you men­tion from Gohns–very com­pet­i­tive with mass pro­duced (& usu­ally imported) cloth­ing. I may send for a cat­a­log just for brows­ing, but I already have a lot of clothes to wear out before I buy any­thing new.

  • Joe Nolan

    I find that Men­non­ites get more atten­tion because of the “Plain Dress” uni­form that they wear than if they were to wear ordi­nary cloth­ing with­out orna­men­ta­tion & frills. I just love the Print dresses that the Men­non­ite ladies wear!
    And Sal­va­tion Army sol­diers cer­tainly get atten­tion with their uniforms.

  • http://www.anisci.rutgers.edu/ George Eager

    A lady friend of mine was look­ing for plain women’s wear, and found a suit­able jumper at plain​ly​dressed​.com. I per­son­ally am pretty plain (“Sears Plain”) already, maybe by osmo­sis from going to par­ents’ meet­ings at my kids’ schools. One is in a Friends day school in Prince­ton , and the other boards at George School in PA. I’ve been look­ing around for a vest. I saw an ortho­dox Jew­ish guy with a nice one…but couldn’t get up the nerve to ask him where he got it. We shop at the PA Dutch Mar­ket in Kingston NJ (highly rec­om­mended) and my lady friend asked one of the girls where she got her dress. Of course the answer was, “I made it.” Any­way, my friend’s style was more or less solid color long jumpers already. Now if only I can inter­est her in those knee-high black stock­ings!
    Plain is good, you know, and I’m not overly wor­ried about look­ing uni­formed since I basi­cally wear the same thing every­day, more or less– a few vari­a­tions, you know, but I’m a 54 year old admin­is­tra­tor in an ag col­lege, so dress­ing up (LOL!) means wear­ing the brown lace-ups (Alden’s, circa 1985). There is a path to plain dress­ing that doesn’t lead to cloth­ing that a Civil war reen­ac­tor might be con­sid­er­ing.
    On the braces ques­tion, I wear 1–1/2 inch solid blue– J.C Pen­ney, $8. The hat issue is too com­plex to be gone into– LOL!

  • http://ofthebest.blogspot.com Amanda

    Do not fear the Hat! the Hat is your Friend.
    (not the tilley hat, though. Have you READ their own­ers’ man­ual?!)
    – Amanda, who is ter­ri­fied of bonnets.

  • Joyce

    I have tried the phone num­bers for GOHN Broth­ers which you listed. There is a record­ing ask­ing for a pin #. WHat is that all about? I wish to order a cat­a­log, as mine is far out of date. I am hav­ing dif­fi­culty. would you please be able to direct me to a phone num­ber that is working?

  • George Eager

    I ordered a vest from Gohn Bros and I’m very pleased. At $18.98 it’s a good value too. The stan­dard (return­able) one is dark blue denim and very nicely made. I got hook&eye clo­sure with out­side pock­ets. They sent along swatches of all the fab­rics avail­able for vests, pants, coats etc — so now I’m think­ing of the next one already. Also, just FYI, their socks are really great as well.
    By the way, it took a about three weeks after my check cleared for the pack­age to be received, which was okay with me, but just thought I’d men­tion it so you folks don’t panic. It ain’t Lands End!

  • Julie

    GVS — now car­ries plain men’s cloth­ing — They cur­rently are offer­ing, plain pants, broad­falls, plain 2 piece suits, old frock coats, and 2 styles of vests. They are a Men­non­ite owned mail order com­pany. They are well worth look­ing into if your not sewing your own. They also offer a cou­ple of books on men’s plain sewing and alter­ing ready-mades. Their cloth­ing is all with Swedish knit — avail­able at Gohn. I’ve used this prod­uct and feel it is top of the line for a dou­ble knit. Every­thing I made with it — capes, school jumpers, vests looked great. Prices are com­pa­ra­ble to store bought or pur­chas­ing the fab­ric and mak­ing your own. I pur­chase almost all my sewing sup­plies from them and Gohn. Very happy with ser­vice and prod­ucts. Only place I’ve been able to find white bobby pins.

  • Julie

    Posted above — For­got to men­tion they have a color cat­a­log phone — 18003982464 or email sales@gvsdis.com for a copy.
    Also, eBay has alot of used Amish plain clothes. Looks like non-Amish are mak­ing a liv­ing out of sell­ing barn sale/ yard sale gleanings.

  • http://www.friendspatterns.net Joyce

    If you’re look­ing for sewing pat­terns, we sell Amish, Men­non­ite and plain style pat­terns. I’m so busy, that I get my husband’s broad­falls from Gohn’s. :-) Be care­ful about order­ing broad­falls from other sources. Most retail­ers buy theirs from Gohn’s and then mark up the prices to reflect that. If you want a rea­son­ably priced suit, made to order, I can rec­om­mend Weefox Tai­lors, 267 N. Shirk Rd. New Hol­land PA 17557 phone 717–354-8933. We ordered a suit and they sent a detailed mea­sur­ing sheet which we returned with our check. The suit fit pretty well con­sid­er­ing there were no inter­me­di­ate fittings.

  • http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/ Mar­tin Kelley

    Hi Joyce: Thanks for adding to the “col­lec­tive knowl­edge” here. That’s great. I unknow­ingly bought my first Gohn Broth­ers broad­falls in Ohio; it wasn’t till my first order from Gohn’s came that I real­ized that the orig­i­nal pair was from them! I don’t remem­ber the Ohio store’s price being too over-the-top.
    And every­one: Another main­stream source for shirts I’ve found is Blair​.com. They make a reasonably-priced banded-collar denim shirt (look up “scan­dia woods denim shirt”).

  • John McDe­vitt

    I have pur­chased fro Gohn Bros. for a num­ber of years and have been gen­er­ally quite sat­is­fied, EXCEPT that the con­struc­tion of the but­ton holes in their broad­fall pants is def­i­nitely infe­rior; they wear out very quickly. I rec­om­mend that you take the option of snaps instead of buttons.

  • http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/ Mar­tin Kelley

    Hi John,
    Sorry to hear that. The but­ton holes on my Gohn Bros blue jean broard­falls have frayed quite a bit, just as you described. The but­tons slip off by them­selves some­times now–so much for mod­esty! It’s their #92 model, 100% cot­ton blue jean denim (11 oz.)
    The but­ton­holes on my other broad­falls have held pretty well con­sid­er­ing the wear I give them. I’ve set­tled on the #3 Dark gray twill (65% poly/35% cot­ton), which has been fine for me.

  • Deb­o­rah Mesker

    Can any­one tell me where i might be able to locate some shoes of the plain dress.
    thanks

  • http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/ Mar­tin Kelley

    Hi Deb­o­rah,
    Gohn Broth­ers, “who I pro­file here”:http://​www​.non​vi​o​lence​.org/​m​a​r​t​i​n​k​/​g​o​h​n​_​b​r​o​t​h​e​r​s​_​b​r​o​a​d​f​a​l​l​s​_​m​e​n​s​_​p​l​a​i​n​_​d​r​e​s​s​.​php, does sell shoes and you can write away for their cat­a­log. You’ll see that most of the mod­els are name brands that you can find just about any­where. I believe most plain dressers today just wear the most non-ostentatious main­stream footwear they can find.

  • Geno Zewin­ski

    Please send me a Quaker hat cat­a­log.
    Thank you, Geno Zewin­ski 88 Oak­man St., Turn­ers Falls, MA 01376

  • http://www.nonviolence.org/martink Mar­tin Kelley

    Hi Geno: you’ll have to write to Gohn Bros at the address above, I don’t think they’re read­ing my blog!

  • linda

    I buy all my wide quilt back­ing fab­ric from then Gohn Bros.
    great deliv­ery & fast deliv­ery.
    very good prod­ucts and cus­tomer service.

  • http://www.candleonthehill.net Krista

    Hello! I just came across your post when doing a quick search on the inter­net look­ing for Gohn’s phone #. I mis­placed it and need it as I order my dress and cov­er­ing fab­ric from them, I rec­om­mend them, too! And GVS as well, both are very nice com­pa­nies run by nice folks.
    Our fam­ily has a com­pany Can­dle on the Hill (Matthew 5:14–16) we have plain sewing pat­terns (as well as non-plain, but mod­est pat­terns) for Chris­t­ian fam­i­lies and home­mak­ing books and resources for women. You can visit us at http://​www​.can​dleon​the​hill​.net, we’d love to have you drop by!
    Thank you for your insight­ful posts here! I was just look­ing for a phone # but enriched with more.
    To the woman look­ing for plain shoes, GVS Dis­trib­u­tors also has a large selec­tion of plain, qual­ity, prac­ti­cal shoes.
    May God bless you all and you day!

  • Ronald David Hanes

    I was want­ing to know if any one could tell me if there are any Plain liv­ing chris­t­ian groups (amish, men­non­ite, etc) near Miami Okla­homa?
    I am a plain liv­ing sin­gle chris­t­ian man in need of fel­low­ship.
    Thank You
    R D H

  • Thomas Fior­iglio

    Hi Mar­tin,
    I have enjoyed read­ing your blog as I search for many answers to my ques­tions about Quak­erism. As for the Gohn’s Bros. jacket #225, that is the same jacket with the same alter­ations I am inter­ested in. How has it held up? Is it a win­ter jacket or fall/spring jacket? I am look­ing for some­thing plain that will get me through fall/winter/spring if pos­si­ble. How roomy is the reg­u­lar cut? I am aver­age size (42R) and have already adopted sim­ple plain dress. Sorry for ask­ing so many ques­tions, as you know the Gohn’s cat­a­log has no pic­tures and if you order a jacket with alter­ations, it can not be returned. Thank you for what­ever infor­ma­tion you could add on this.

  • http://www.quakerranter.org/ Mar­tin Kelley

    *Hi Ronald*: I’m afraid I don’t know of any plain Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties out there–maybe one of my read­ers do? To be hon­est, I can’t think of any Quaker local com­mu­nity that could qual­ify as plain. Even this summer’s ses­sions of Ohio Yearly Meet­ing Conservative–arguably the most tra­di­tion­al­ist Friends body in North America–had only a dozen or so plain Friends in atten­dance and they live across hun­dreds of miles of ter­ri­tory. You might want to con­tact David Nagel, the pas­tor of Oklahoma’s Hominy Friends Meet­ing (, _only_ 125 miles from you); he has roots in Ohio Con­ser­v­a­tive and might know of plain com­mu­ni­ties in Okla­homa. Good luck and God bless you on your search.
    *Thomas*: The jack­ets hold up quite well. I did finally replace my #225 (with another 225), only because it started fad­ing over time. I wear it all the time, in all sorts of weather. I wear it maybe nine months out of the year (Fall through Spring) and on mild win­ter days it’s all I often need. You’ll see the jack­ets in my “Flickr plain pic­tures”:http://​www​.flickr​.com/​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​m​a​r​t​i​n​_​k​e​l​l​e​y​/​t​a​g​s​/​p​l​ain. All the black block­ish jack­ets are Gohn, most the #225’s (the vest is also Gohn, cut from the same fab­ric).
    It’s kind of funny to be revis­it­ing this post tonight. In prepa­ra­tion of upcom­ing job inter­views I spent part of the evening dig­ging out old suits from the attic. While it’s quite pos­si­ble that any job I get will be okay with the rather for­mal plain dress I often wear, I’m not will­ing to demand it at the job inter­view. I once lived near a thrift store where I could buy gor­geous pin­stripe Ital­ian suits for $10. Boy, was there a lit­tle fash­ion lust in me as I donned them an hour ago to see which ones could be cleaned and pressed for a inter­view!
    Martin

  • Thomas Fior­iglio

    Mar­tin, thanks for the quick reply and for the infor­ma­tion. I live in Long Island, so we encounter pretty much the same weather, so I guess I could look for­ward to some good use out of the jacket. One last ques­tion, about the “reg­u­lar” cut, is it still roomy enough to wear a fleece under it if nec­es­sary? Thanks again,
    Just to add some more info for oth­ers, I became fami­lar with Gohn’s through my vol­un­teer work at a his­toric restora­tion vil­lage here on Long Island. We order our broad­falls and shirts through them and they are quite sturdy and well made and very afford­able.
    Some­one else had asked about cut­ting off col­lars of shirts. All I did to remove the col­lars on my but­ton shirts was just care­fully cut just above the seam. I prac­ticed first on a $3 shirt I got at a thrift store. There will be some fray­ing, but that is eas­ily trimmed. I will have to see how it holds up over the long haul. If any­one else has other ideas, I would love to hear them.
    I just received the Plain Vest from GVS and it is very well made. I am a teacher and have decided that when I return to work after the vaca­tion, I will no longer wear ties and go with sim­ply black pants, but­ton down col­lar­less shirt and plain vest. I have to tell you, it feels lib­er­at­ing not hav­ing to worry about match­ing ties and shirts and pants, etc.
    I am still new to the Quaker move­ment and learn­ing more every day. This blog and the con­tri­bu­tions of every­one have been quite help­ful. Thank you all for your col­lec­tive con­tri­bu­tions.
    Happy New Year’s
    Thom
    Levit­town, NY

  • John Wad­dell

    Mr. Kel­ley,
    I have worn a ‘plain dress’ over­coat for sev­eral years. I am finally being forced to buy a new one because the other one is just get­ting to be too well-worn. I would rec­om­mend to any­one who wants to stay warm and be prac­ti­cal about it to own one of the coats made by the Amish and other plain-dressers with the shoul­der cape. It has served me quite well!
    Though I do have a ques­tion. Have you come across some way to get stub­born smells and stains out of such a gar­ment? Dry-cleaning doesn’t always seem to work, I fear.
    Thanks for the web­site, its great to read!

  • Mar­tin Kelley

    *Hi again Thomas:* I often wear a sleeve­less fleece jacket under my regular-cut Gohn coat. A long-sleeve works but it’s a lit­tle tight in the col­lar. Cut­ting col­lars off shirts is indeed pretty easy. I’m afraid I’m not the best in sewing the seam back up and get fray­ing that gets worse with every wash­ing. Per­haps I just need to prac­tice more.
    *Hi John:* I’ve been luck­ily enough not to have expe­ri­enced any bad stains or smells. I just wash my jack­ets in a laun­dry machine, it’s pretty tough.

  • Ellen

    Hello. I am respond­ing to Ronald David Hanes. There is a Dunkard Brethren Church located in Kansas City, Mis­souri. It is a Plain Church. You can learn a bit about it at http://​www​.dunkard​brethrenchurch​.com. I believe it is about a 2.5 hour drive for you though. There may be some­thing closer to home for you. Have a blessed day.
    Mar­tin, thank you for the infor­ma­tion on this site. I am plan­ning to con­tact Gohn Bros. to see about plain fab­rics for dresses and veil­ings. It is hard to find good fab­rics for dress mak­ing in my home town. Thanks again. Have a blessed day. Ellen

  • Thomas Fior­iglio

    I have been dress­ing plain since last Jan­u­ary. I finally got around to pur­chas­ing the Gohn Broth­ers #225 jacket. I got the stand up col­lar, quilted lin­ing and metal but­tons. My only regret is that I got the full cut rather than the reg­u­lar cut. The reg­u­lar cut would have fit just as nicely and still allow room for lay­ers. The full cut is wide in the waist and unless you are on the large size with a large mid sec­tion, I would guess, you can get away with the reg­u­lar cut waste.
    As for the rest of my plain look. I pur­chased the Plain vest and Plain Frock coat from GVS. I cut all the col­lars off of my but­ton shirts and bought some plain black jeans. I wear this every­day as a teacher in a sub­ur­ban Long Island school. When I get dressed every morn­ing, I do not have to think about what I will wear and what tie matches, etc. All I do it choose a shirt, put on my jeans and vest and coat and go to work.
    Thomas Fioriglio

  • Sam Reames

    Quaker plain dress con­sisted of A Hat, not black, usu­ally dove gray. Broad brimmed and rounded or flat crowned. Many his­tor­i­cal paint­ing and such depict them. Nor­mal con­ven­tional clothes of the times but “off the rack” and simple/inexpensive in nature. Dress­ing “up” in Anabap­tist con­ven­tional cloth­ing seems to me to defy “plain” cloth­ing as it goes to extremes to obtain and is not of the nor­mal con­ven­tion today. I have not seen any pic­tures of the Lon­don meet­ing in many years, but they used to dress in “con­ven­tional” 1800’s wear of gray, light brown, teal, fawn, etc. includ­ing a flat brimmed hat of match­ing color. Seems every­thing but dark blacks, navy’s, browns, etc. It may have been a annual “dress up” event and not a nor­mal First Day wear.

    For me, plain dress con­sists of khakis/denim, inex­pen­sive shirt and inex­pen­sive but well made shoes.I wear no jew­elry other than my wed­ding ring and a mod­est watch. Not designer cloth­ing, but sim­ple “off the rack” wear of good con­struc­tion and mod­er­ate cost. Much less cost than Gohn Bro’s “cos­tume” wear.

    I also chose to wear a full beard 36 years ago as an out­ward expres­sion of my belief in simplicity.

  • Sam Reames

    Quaker plain dress con­sisted of A Hat, not black, usu­ally dove gray. Broad brimmed and rounded or flat crowned. Many his­tor­i­cal paint­ing and such depict them. Nor­mal con­ven­tional clothes of the times but “off the rack” and simple/inexpensive in nature. Dress­ing “up” in Anabap­tist con­ven­tional cloth­ing seems to me to defy “plain” cloth­ing as it goes to extremes to obtain and is not of the nor­mal con­ven­tion today. I have not seen any pic­tures of the Lon­don meet­ing in many years, but they used to dress in “con­ven­tional” 1800’s wear of gray, light brown, teal, fawn, etc. includ­ing a flat brimmed hat of match­ing color. Seems every­thing but dark blacks, navy’s, browns, etc. It may have been a annual “dress up” event and not a nor­mal First Day wear.

    For me, plain dress con­sists of khakis/denim, inex­pen­sive shirt and inex­pen­sive but well made shoes.I wear no jew­elry other than my wed­ding ring and a mod­est watch. Not designer cloth­ing, but sim­ple “off the rack” wear of good con­struc­tion and mod­er­ate cost. Much less cost than Gohn Bro’s “cos­tume” wear.

    I also chose to wear a full beard 36 years ago as an out­ward expres­sion of my belief in simplicity.

  • Not Say­ing

    Inter­est­ing to read all the thoughts on plain dress. My wife and I were for­merly part of a plain church that strictly enforced a uni­form. I always wore broad­falls and button-up shirts, and gen­er­ally (until later years) a broad­brim hat. Broad­falls were either pur­chased from Gohn Broth­ers or ‘made-over’. By made-over, it meant buy­ing off-the-shelf pants and hav­ing my wife rip out the front and re-sewing them to elim­i­nate the fly and add but­tons. Took nearly 6 hours per pair! Mak­ing them over saved money over buy­ing them from Gohn broth­ers if you didn’t count her time. My wife always wore a spe­cific pat­tern of dress (that she made) and a prayer cov­er­ing (that she also made). In the win­ter she would wear shawl and bon­net if going to church or a coat at other times. We found (in this par­tic­u­lar church) that the uni­form was over-emphasized and it had actu­ally been turned into an idol!

    We recently changed over to a dif­fer­ent plain church that isn’t near as strict. Women are still cov­ered and mod­esty and sim­plic­ity are still stressed, although a spe­cific uni­form is not. We now buy nearly all our clothes from Good­will and other thrift stores. I always wear dark-colored pants and a button-up shirt. She mostly wears long dresses or skirts with a full-cut. I know that we now spend a lot less money and time on clothes. I think that wise spend­ing habits on cloth­ing is a prin­ci­ple that some­times gets lost in the among the plain peo­ple. I would much rather spend $5 on a pair of second-hand pants from Good­will than spend $30–35 at Gohn Broth­ers. My wife also has enough to do around the home with the kids, etc. that she doesn’t need to spend all day re-making a pair of pants for me!

    Some­times I think it would do us good to take a step back and look at the Bib­li­cal require­ments and prin­ci­ples for dress.
    1. Mod­esty
    2. Sim­plic­ity
    3. Dress­ing for God’s glory and not our own.
    4. Not fol­low­ing the fash­ions of the world. (immod­esty, casu­al­ness, etc.)
    5. Being wise stew­ards of our money.

  • Not Say­ing

    Inter­est­ing to read all the thoughts on plain dress. My wife and I were for­merly part of a plain church that strictly enforced a uni­form. I always wore broad­falls and button-up shirts, and gen­er­ally (until later years) a broad­brim hat. Broad­falls were either pur­chased from Gohn Broth­ers or ‘made-over’. By made-over, it meant buy­ing off-the-shelf pants and hav­ing my wife rip out the front and re-sewing them to elim­i­nate the fly and add but­tons. Took nearly 6 hours per pair! Mak­ing them over saved money over buy­ing them from Gohn broth­ers if you didn’t count her time. My wife always wore a spe­cific pat­tern of dress (that she made) and a prayer cov­er­ing (that she also made). In the win­ter she would wear shawl and bon­net if going to church or a coat at other times. We found (in this par­tic­u­lar church) that the uni­form was over-emphasized and it had actu­ally been turned into an idol!

    We recently changed over to a dif­fer­ent plain church that isn’t near as strict. Women are still cov­ered and mod­esty and sim­plic­ity are still stressed, although a spe­cific uni­form is not. We now buy nearly all our clothes from Good­will and other thrift stores. I always wear dark-colored pants and a button-up shirt. She mostly wears long dresses or skirts with a full-cut. I know that we now spend a lot less money and time on clothes. I think that wise spend­ing habits on cloth­ing is a prin­ci­ple that some­times gets lost in the among the plain peo­ple. I would much rather spend $5 on a pair of second-hand pants from Good­will than spend $30–35 at Gohn Broth­ers. My wife also has enough to do around the home with the kids, etc. that she doesn’t need to spend all day re-making a pair of pants for me!

    Some­times I think it would do us good to take a step back and look at the Bib­li­cal require­ments and prin­ci­ples for dress.
    1. Mod­esty
    2. Sim­plic­ity
    3. Dress­ing for God’s glory and not our own.
    4. Not fol­low­ing the fash­ions of the world. (immod­esty, casu­al­ness, etc.)
    5. Being wise stew­ards of our money.

  • poocer

    I first found Gohn broth­ers in The Whole Earth Cat­a­log, which for me was one of the great­est pub­li­ca­tions ever. How I miss it! For years I wore the drop­fall pants and found them to be supe­rior to jeans for gen­eral use. Of course, the uni­form in those days and our set was over­alls, them­selves like jeans a polit­i­cal state­ment. Now I have almost a dozen pairs but sel­dom wear them __wife bought ‘em__ as they bind the knees and the paunch. (Not as easy to shed the paunch at 74 as at 34) And I’m really bored with well-meaners tak­ing me aside and whis­per­ing “Your flies are open”. Big deal! With the social rev­o­lu­tion of the 60s and 70s jeans became the world­wide demo­c­ra­tic lev­eler, like the tee shirt and later, flipflops.
    Jan de har­tog, in his won­der­ful novel Peace­able King­dom, says that early Quak­ers would not wear indigo-dyed clothes as pro­cess­ing the plant for dye was so dis­agree­able that only slaves could be made to do it..
    Sim­ple cloth­ing comes nat­u­rally to me, although for years work­ing in archi­tects’ offices had me in the pro­fes­sional uni­form: Oxford gray wool-and-acrylic suit with 2 pairs of pants, all navy-blue socks for ease of laun­dry sort­ing, button-down blue Oxford shirts and knit ties for draft­ing. Chi­nos were for days when I could get away with no jacket, but the tie stayed, a bow tie in col­or­ful Indian silk or Madras cot­ton. Long gone together with my 30 inch waist!
    Our family’s ear­li­est immi­grants came to Delaware 40 years before William Penn, spoke Swedish and later Dutch and Lenni Lenape. They were sol­diers, traders and farm­ers. One was actu­ally a trans­la­tor between Penn and the Indi­ans. Then came the Quak­ers and the Anabap­tists respond­ing to Penn’s offer of reli­gious free­dom, and many of them spoke Ger­man for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions. (Eighty per­cent of Penn­syl­va­ni­ans spoke Ger­man in 1776.) I don’t know how they dressed, but being in the heart of Chester County, the Quak­ers at least surely wore gray. Sev­eral early towns in Penn­syl­va­nia were founded partly by my ances­tors, among them Upland (renamed Chester by Penn) and Ger­man­town.
    Even my par­ents had very few clothes by today’s stan­dards. All of both’s fit nicely into one small closet. Many were home-made. Nei­ther wore jeans, tees or sports shoes. Mom never wore slacks.
    Now that I’m retired from archi­tec­ture and spend most of my time gar­den­ing I’m ready to sim­plify. It may be dif­fi­cult, how­ever, to con­vince my wife to give away the suits and blaz­ers which she loves to see me in. I wear cargo shorts almost all the time__to Meet­ing, too__and Red­wing boots in the gar­den.
    I’m inter­ested in the plain­ness state­ment. I never minded look­ing dif­fer­ent, always had a beard unless it was for­bid­den by an employer. Now (the last few months) I have an Amish beard and after shav­ing my bald head since the 60s (very odd then; “I’m not bald, I just shave my head”) I have begun to let my thin gray hair grow down to a blunt cut at ear and nape and will not flat­ten it. Since the 60s I have worn a hat against sun­burn and sun­stroke, but not the Gohn Broth­ers kind. There are no vis­i­ble Men­non­ites here in Shasta County, so I sup­pose I’ll stand out. I will not aban­don my tiny gold ear­ring, how­ever. How’s that for con­tra­dic­tion?
    I admit to being mildly nar­cis­sis­tic. Always loved being in cos­tume on stage and in his­tor­i­cal pageants. It’s amaz­ing how much a sim­ple change in hair and beard style evokes a par­tic­uler period. Some re-enactors and dancers are so attached to their cur­rent style that they can’t con­ceive of chang­ing. Not me! But I can­not see wear­ing the full Amish out­fit. Too con­trived!
    I am non-thieist, non-religion, anti-religious (includ­ing reli­gious prop­erty). I attend the small Monthly Meet­ing in Red­ding, CA.
    Inspired by these recently dis­cov­ered sites on plain­ness, I think I’ll sim­plify my wardrobe and red out my stuffed closet.

  • roberth­cooper

    Please two questions

    1-I assume all cloth­ing and good are american?

    2-are clipon’s with plas­tic tips or just metal teeth ones.