Here is Valerie talking about her first sojourn to purchase plain dress.
Valerie Goes to ShipshewanaFirst, the shopping trip. I drove 400+ miles yesterday and returned with a hat. Not the right one, because all six shops in Shipshewana, Indiana, carry the same hat for the same local Amish population. They were a little befuddled that I was looking for "a different kind of stiff hat."
One store was most friendly and helpful, the "Countryroad Fabrics and Gifts," 2195N, 700W, Shipshewana, IN 46565, 260-768-3161, fax number 260-768-9169. They are one main road east of the one that cuts up the middle of Shipshewana. Yoder's, once a mainstay of where you could get a good wool hat or wonderful Amish boots, now bears a strong resemblance to Wal-mart. The two clerks joking around up in front looked positively like scofflaws, and one used that particular F word while joking with his friend as I walked by--rather a turn-off. Esch Hardware, right on Rte. 5 very near 20, was interesting but a better place to buy a drop-in cabin than a pair of socks.
At Countryroad, I got lots of assistance. By the way, the telephone rings an average of 30 times before they wander away from an existing customer to answer it, so be patient. Also, it's in a separate box and they have to walk a ways, and open another door, etc.
I got a dixie-cup like hat to "do me over" until the 2 Plainly Dressed ones come sometime next week. It weighs very little, I would imagine the same as a hummingbird. These hats are sized more precisely (this one is an 11 med) than the ones from Plainly Dressed, but I tried on about seven and there is no difference other than the brim a little bigger. The bigger the brim, the deeper the hat by miniscule degrees, or maybe the M and L's are lengths for accommodating hair in the back. They are $15 , and pics are attached. You can not see through them, it's like paper from ten feet away. Ribbons are $1.50 each (???wow) and you sew them on yourself "with an X stitch," she said.
Lots of locally-made men's clothing, children's clothing, some kitchen and home items.
Only two small woolen winter bonnets, not caped. I fortunately can make most items once I hold them for a few minutes so I am finishing up a caped winter bonnet on my dining room table this afternoon, of thick coating wool left over from when I made my cape. Will send that pic next time, I want to hand-stitch the brim and that's an evening sit-down, I'm-done-standing job.
The shoes are a delight, sort of granny-ish but with modern non-marking soles with good water traction I hope. $60 because I have big feet, $58 if you don't. They had half sizes, and medium, wide, double wide width. All the shoes were nice but most had squared off toes. Only the men's shoes were what I'd call "sturdy" enough to last years. Many lace-up varieties, a few with velcro cross-over closures.
Nice pocket watch for $9, watch ready inside just take off the plastic protector between battery and works.
Many nice hair items; many pins, nettings, barrettes, etc.
Beautiful linen blend hankies, buck apiece. Not exactly what I wanted (I like 100% linen) but after washing should be usable.
Many nice knee socks, the kind we loved as girls but now even in plus sizes if desiredI got four pairs of black. No tights, I'm pondering why no tights in any of the stores. No wool stockings of any kind, garter-type or tights. Also was looking for full cotton gathered half-slips to eliminate winter static and give warmth, none of those. No plain dresses of "Amish" type in any store, but several places had modern sweaters marked made in china or phillipines. The expectation must be that women make their own.
I then went through rest of all my clothing when I got home. Huge 75% pile on chairs is the out-going office worker stuff--pendleton jumpers, red plaids, skirts at mid-knee or shorter, anything with embellishment I couldn't remove adequately. Good pile has all muted solids, modest, best quality stuff of natural fibers. Added four black skirts, one pleated, and have eight turtlenecks drying on rack, from thrift shopping yesterday and today (total cost of 12 items less than $20). I got several packages of snaps, hook-and-eye, and a few fancier straight pins with flat colored heads, and will re-do each garment.
I have some lovely sweaters and wool jackets, waiting to see dress code expectations at future employment, if I can pair a skirt with nice sweater or only business jackets allowed.
Pictures of the "dixie cup" cap, plain shoes and watch:
See also: Valerie Goes Plain
I am not Amish or Mennonite, but some people who come to my website are interested in knowing more about these groups. I can recommend these books as authoritative and relatively inexpensive sources of further information.