Native American Clothing

When you think of Native American clothing, the first images that come to mind are probably a headdress or a breech clout. While these clothing items were popular among Indian tribes, they are just a small sampling of the many kinds of clothing worn by Native Americans.

Clothing style was often determined by the climate. In order to survive, tribes that lived in the cooler Northern region wore heavier garments. A capote or “blanket coat” was a typical Native American clothing item worn during the winter months.

In the early days, trading companies were established that allowed the Indians to trade their fur for goods. Blankets were highly sought after by tribe hunters. They used the blankets material to design hooded coats called capotes. A capote made the cold temperatures and brisk winds a bit more bearable.

Among many tribes including the Seminoles, Creeks, and Sac,calico shirts were worn by the men. These decorative shirts were easy to sew and could be design ed with or without a collar. Calico shirts were typically designed with a drop sleeve style.

Light weight clothing was also necessary to endure the heat of summer. Cloth dresses were a common piece of Native American clothing among many tribes, especially the Sioux. Although the dresses were made of cotton or flannel, they were designed to be loose fitting, making them a perfect choice for the summer months. Red, white, and black were the traditional colors used. Often the dresses were adorned with elk teeth or shells for decoration.

The type of moccasin worn depended a great deal upon the ruggedness of the terrain. In rocky areas, additional leather was used to construct the sole. A two-piece moccasin contained an extra layer of leather padding designed to protect the foot from protruding objects. Today moccasins are still a favorite item among collectors of Native American clothing.