Native American Trivia: Navajo Clothing

In the mid 1860s, Navajo traditional clothing gave way to velveteen. The women began to wear velveteen dresses (or skirts and blouses) in lieu of deerhide or woven dresses called “blanket dresses”, which were fashioned by connecting two woven panels at the shoulders and lacing up the sides.

Juanita wife of Navajo Chief Manuelito

Juanita, wife of Navajo Chief Manuelito in a traditional blanket dress.

The men replaced deerhide or woven leggings and/or a breechclout with woven pants, either to the top of their moccasins or full length, and velveteen shirts of simple design; the shirts were sometimes embellished with beads or silver buttons.

Both men and women still wore traditional hide or woven moccasins that come to mid-calf.

3 thoughts on “Native American Trivia: Navajo Clothing

  1. Interesting look at changing fashions, Gifford. I wonder where the velveteen cloth came from. I can only imagine they bought it at trading posts or nearby towns and made and decorated the garments themselves. (I’m not sure what the situation would have been regarding reservations at that time, so I’m a bit foggy about this.)


    • Hi, Millie, they started trading (mostly basketry, blankets and jewelry) for the velveteen with the white settlers and did the beadwork and make the buttons themselves. The reservation in the Four Corners area of Arizona/New Mexico/Utah & Colorado, was first formed in New Mexico in 1868. Navajo land was rich in turquoise and at one time had some very prolific silver deposits — not for too long, however ….


      • That’s really interesting. I’ve never fully looked into the history of settlement in the U.S. although we see a lot of it in films and so on. Whether they’re credible or not is open to discussion! As for the exploitation of natural resources, well, that’s another area for discussion. Thank you for taking the time to explain all this, Gifford. It’s much appreciated.


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