Clothing played an important role in the development of Native American designs and symbols. While many tribes have their own style and clothing history, there are some common threads and characteristics.
In most Native American tribes, the Native American clothing design was for the men to wear a long rectangular piece of hide or cloth tucked over a belt in the front and the back, which they called breechclouts or breechcloths. In the colder climates, the men would wear leggings under their breechcloths.
Men in the other tribes wore short kilts or fur trousers instead of the breechcloths. The Plians Indian warriors wore special buckskin shirts that most men didn’t wear. Indian men usually did not wear shirts unless they were an Indian warrior going to war. The Native American clothing designers made the war cloths that were decorated with ermine tails, hair, intricate quillwork and beadwork.
Most all of the Native American women wore skirts and leggings, which varied in style and color from tribe to tribe. In most Native American tribes, the women had an option to wear shirts. If women did wear shirts, it was treated more like coats.
Often in other Native American cultures, the women always wore tunics or mantles in public. Also another Native American clothing design that was popular with many different tribes were the one-piece dresses for women. The Native American clothing designer created the idea of one-piece dresses as an elegant way to dress up for ceremonies.
All Native Americans wore moccasin’s, which was a sturdy leather shoe. They would also have mukkuk, which was a heavier boot. However with the shoe style varying from tribe to tribe, mostly all cultures used cloaks in the colder climates.
The Native American clothing design began to change after colonization. As the Indian tribes were forced into closer contact with each other, they began to learn different techniques from one another. They also began to adapt some articles from the Europeans to their own unique style. Today, some tribes still wear their original Native American clothing designs. Breechcloth, leggings, headdress, and dance shawls are still worn to powwows and religious ceremonies they have today.