Men of the Dakota tribes dressed in buckskin shirts and leather leggings with breechcloths. Women wore long dresses made of elkskin or buckskin. Both genders wore moccasins to protect their feet and buffalo-hide robes during inclement weather.
Women sometimes decorated their dresses with fur. They were primarily responsible for making clothing for the tribe, processing the hides of animals killed by men. The Dakota tribes relied heavily on bison for clothing, food and materials for shelter. Clothing was an important trade item among the Native Americans, with the Dakota tribes exchanging or gifting each other articles as a way of cementing bonds between them crucial for survival.
Both genders wore their hair long and usually in braids. They wrapped fur around the braids or tied them with quillwork strips.
The Dakota tribes are remembered for their feather warbonnets, made famous by movies set in the Wild West. However, these were worn only on special occasions. To accompany the warbonnets, they painted their faces and arms in bright colors and specific patterns that mimicked animals. Men who had earned the honor were allowed to wear a necklace made out of a grizzly bear's claw.
Once the Dakota tribe met the American colonists, members started incorporating colonial clothing, such as vests and cloth dresses, into their everyday wardrobes.