While the most common garment for Native American men was a breechclout, or loincloth, for women it was the skirt. Although Native American women did throw a cloak around their shoulders for warmth, the skirt was often worn without any covering for the upper body. Skirts were commonly knee-length or longer. The simplest skirts were made of grasses tied to a waist string; these were worn mostly by Indian tribes along the coasts of North America. Other styles included a wraparound leather skirt, an apron tied at the back, two aprons tied to cover both the front and the back, and woven and sewn patchwork skirts. Made of leather, grasses, feathers, bark, and later, woven cotton or other fabric, skirts were embellished with fringe, embroidery, beadwork, tassels, and other ornaments. As Native Americans had more contact with Europeans, their skirt styles changed to mimic the flowing European styles, and many women began wearing leather or cloth dresses that covered their breasts. Before long, purchased fabric skirts replaced handmade leather or woven skirts for many.


Hofsinde, Robert. Indian Costumes. New York: William Morrow, 1968.

Hungry Wolf, Adolf. Traditional Dress: Knowledge and Methods of Old-Time Clothing. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1990.

Paterek, Josephine. Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994.

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