What Native American Women Wore - Pre Contact: Off The Shoulder One Hide Dress

The Off the Shoulder One Hide Dress is the original aboriginal garment in terms of Native American History, Clark Wissler, Author of the "Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XVll, Part ll 1915" made an extensive study of the evolution of the everyday wear of Pre Contact Aboriginal peoples of this continent. It's creation dates back more than three thousand years, so it's not exactly the latest fashion but is an important part of Native American History! If you want to read this very important work you can download the PDF Here.
After discovering and restoring Mia's Two Hide off the Shoulder Dress, I had more questions than answers. I found this site Plimoth Plantation Wampaoag Site  that gave me a great deal of comfort about the decisions I had made when correcting Mia's dress alterations.
I was indeed correct in the assumption that a strap ran through the upper portion of the fold over and that it was tied with this strap. The dresses shown in the pictures from the Plimoth site were indeed one hide dresses, wrapped around and fringed on the one side, but two hides were also commonly used when larger hides could not be found.

The following illustrations and paintings show the various ways this garment was worn by early Men and Women.

The dress was worn tied at the shoulder, or in more temperate weather was simply hung at the waist by a belt creating a skirt effect.

In colder weather the dress was topped with a cape of fur or hide over the bare shoulder and I have found some suggestions that a sleeve was created and attached to the bare arm that draped across the back and tied at the shoulder tie area.

Tribes that wore this garment include:


But this list is not all inclusive, and at one time, just about everyone, everywhere, (including our European Ancestors), wore this type of garment.

Mia's Dress

1 comment:

  1. Wow..very impressive! I met Sheila Benjamin this weekend at the De Soto National Memorial while doing a documentary for the Chickasaw Nation. She e-mailed me your blog...this is so faithfully researched and executed!
    I am really diggin on your Hippie Trade necklaces as well.



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