What’s the Difference?
There is a great deal of confusion about the difference between an Amish woman’s kopp (hair covering) and bonnet. To clear up this confusion, here are some notes on what Amish women wear for head coverings and for what occasions:
Most Amish women and girls wear a kopp indoors during their everyday lives. Girls, until they reach adolescence, will wear black in most communities, except for special occasions, such as funerals. (Though in most districts in Lancaster County, girls will wear no covering until they reach adolescence). During their girlhood, they will also wear dresses that button down their backs. When young women begin wearing a “front-closing” dress closed with straight pins, rather than wearing a dress that buttons down the back, she usually begins wearing a white covering for everyday and a black one for church on Sundays. The day a woman marries, she changes her black covering for a white one right after the wedding ceremony. Once married, she will wear a white covering the rest of her life. (There may be some variation from one community to another on this, but this is the case in most communities.)
When women and girls go out into public, it is expected in most communities that they wear a bonnet over the kopp. They don’t wear a bonnet instead of a kopp, but in addition to. In some communities it is becoming more common for young women during their dating years to go somewhere without a bonnet, except to church, weddings, or funerals. In the stricter communities, women and girls are expected to wear bonnets whenever they are in public.