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Adoption of Western Dress

ADOPTION OF WESTERN DRESS

Prior to the first arrival of Europeans in North America in the sixteenth century, Native Americans had traded with neighboring tribes for centuries. Their cultures valued unusual items brought from afar. Often these items, such as coastal shells traded in the landlocked Northeast, were used in the prized garments of the wealthy. When Europeans arrived on the coasts of the continent, Native Americans began to adopt European items into their clothing styles. Some of the first European, or Western, items used by Native Americans were glass beads and stroud cloth, a cheap heavy wool fabric dyed blue, red, or green and made in Stroudwater, England. By the early 1800s calico and gingham cotton cloth was also popular among Native Americans. At first, Native Americans used Western items as raw material to craft clothing in their traditional styles. Later they would embellish Western styles with beaded decoration or silver ornaments, or use Western styles in their own ways, by cutting the seat out of trousers to make leggings or sewing buttons on a garment for decoration instead of as fasteners, for example. But as more white settlers encroached on their homelands and eventually forced tribes onto reservations (public land set aside for Native Americans to live), Native Americans slowly discontinued their traditional dress for ready-made Western style clothes.

The tribes of the Southeast were among the first to adopt Western clothing. Beginning in the sixteenth century, Spanish, French, and English explorers brought items for trade. By the early 1800s the tribes of the Southeast wore jackets, shirts, cravats, or ties, cotton cloth skirts, and shoes purchased in stores or at trading posts. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Huron of the Northeast, who had a long history of trading with whites, had discontinued wearing all of their traditional tribal dress. By the mid-nineteenth century most Native Americans in the regions of the present-day United States wore commercially produced Western style clothes, expect for a few ceremonial garments. However, many of the isolated peoples of the Subarctic and the Arctic continued wearing some of their traditional clothes. Although many adopted Western style trousers and jackets, some preferred the warmth of their traditional fur anoraks, or parkas.

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"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adoption-western-dress

"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adoption-western-dress

Adoption of Western Dress

ADOPTION OF WESTERN DRESS

Clothing styles change over time for a variety of reasons. Although environmental changes can have drastic effects, trade causes the quickest shifts in a culture's clothing styles. Trade between the hundreds of different African groups throughout the continent had occured for years but the most dramatic effect of trade came from the West. Western style clothing, including shoes, pants, shirts, dresses, and business suits, became increasingly common in Africa in the twentieth century, especially in urban cities. Many Africans wear whole Western style outfits, while others combine traditional African styles with Western styles. Only Africans living in the most remote regions of the continent continue to wear clothes reflecting limited European contact.

The prevalence of Western styles throughout Africa indicates the dominance of European trade on the continent since the fifteenth century. The first Africans to trade with Europeans used European goods to create their own unique clothing styles. Intricate beaded clothing was created from imported glass beads, for example. But as Europeans tried to colonize the African continent, many Africans were forced to abandon their traditional ways of living. Without access to their old ways of making clothing, many began to wear ready-made clothes imported from Europe. Indeed, by the twenty-first century, Africans not only wore imported Western style clothing but also Western style clothing made in African factories. Today traditional African dress is most often worn for ceremonial purposes, much like the kimono in Japan or elements of traditional dress among Native Americans.

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"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adoption-western-dress-0

"Adoption of Western Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adoption-western-dress-0