Native American culture and clothing varied from one tribe to another. In general, all Native American tribes used clothing that reflected the climate they lived in and their lifestyle.
So the tribes living in hotter climate regions, for instance, wore clothing that was light and airy. Tribes in the north and towards the colder regions wore warmer clothes to ward off the cold.
The most common material used for clothing was animal hide. The tribes living in the Plains region hunted bison and used its hide to make clothing. Other tribes who hunted other animals used their skin to make clothes.
Deerskin and seal skin was also common clothing materials among Native Americans. Some Native American tribes practiced agriculture and grew plants and crops. They used various materials from the plants to weave threads and then made various clothing accessories using these threads.
The Native Americans prepared and processed different materials before they could be used for making clothes. Bison hide and the skin of other animals, for example, was first dried and tanned. Once the skin was tanned, it stayed in good shape and became incredibly durable for a long time.
The Native Americans would then cut the hide into different pieces for different types of clothing. They also used various techniques to sew together these pieces and make dresses from them.
Typically, Native American men wore no shirts. They only wore a breech-cloth to cover their legs at the front and back. This kept them cool during the hotter months.
So they wore only a breech-cloth throughout most of the year. When the weather became cold, they would wear a cloak in order to cover their upper body and stay warm. They also wore leggings to keep their legs warm during winters.
Another important item of men’s clothing was war shirts. These shirts were worn during battles and were elaborately decorated to reflect the bravery and achievements of a warrior.
Native American women usually wore leggings or skirts to cover their legs. They used small and light clothing items to cover the upper body during the hotter months.
These included light-weight shirts and tunics. In winters, they wore warmer and longer dresses like men to stay warm. These included full-length dresses made from buckskin and animal hide.
Headdresses were a common part of Native American dressing. Headdresses were not just for decorative purposes, they also displayed the wealth, power and status of a person.
This is why tribal chiefs usually wore more elaborate headdresses. Native Americans would use various items such as feathers, porcupine hair and glass beads to decorate the headdresses.
Native American Footwear
Footwear was usually used by Native Americans during the winters months or when traveling. The most common type of footwear was a moccasin which was made from soft leather. In general, the tribes living in colder regions wore thicker varieties of moccasin.