What Are Breechcloths?

Breechcloths are a form of garment that has a long history. They were originally used as an alternative to breeches, but they can also be worn over breeches or other clothing. 

To help you understand these items of clothing, we have explained their uses, appearance, and history. 

What Are Breechcloths

Breechcloths are a type of garment that has been around for centuries. These garments are often referred to as “breeches” in the United States and Canada.

These one-piece clothing items cover a person’s genitals and buttocks. This provides protection and privacy to this area.

What Are Breechcloths Made From?

Usually, breechcloths are constructed from cotton materials. They would also be made from animal skins or fur. This would provide warmth to the body area. 

Nowadays, they can be made from materials such as silk, flannel, wool, and linen. They may also be made out of leather or synthetic materials.

What Is Their History?

Breechcloths have been used in a variety of different cultures throughout the world. They are perhaps most associated with Native Americans. 

Native American

While their usage would vary between tribes, a lot of Native American tribes wore breechcloths. The Navajo tribe was known to use them for ceremonial purposes. In some cases, they would wear them all day every day. 

They would also wear them when going on hunting trips. A common misconception about Native Americans is that they only wore breechcloths during the winter months. 

However, many tribes did not even start wearing them until springtime. It was believed that the breechcloth protected against cold weather. Tribes that lived in warmer areas wore them less commonly. 

It was primarily Native American men that wore them. Though women and female teenagers would also wear them occasionally, they would be worn as underwear. Thus, a skirt would be worn over it.

The length and positioning of the breechcloth would vary. While some were quite simplistic, others would be highly decorated. Some had intricate designs while others just had simple patterns.


In Europe, breechcloths were more commonly seen among the lower classes. They could be found in both urban areas and rural settings. Like Native Americans, they would be worn by both men and women.

These breechcloths were usually made from coarse fabrics like hemp, flax, and jute. They were usually worn as outerwear during colder seasons. Furthermore, they would be placed under traditional clothing such as coats, jackets, and cloaks.

They were typically longer than what Native Americans wore. They would reach down to mid-thigh level. These breechcloths, commonly referred to as “loincloths”, are sometimes tied at the waist.

The earliest use of loincloths being used in Europe dates back to 2000 BC. At the time, this piece of clothing would have been made from leather. The Ancient Romans also donned a breechcloth garment known as “subligaculum.”

During the Middle Ages, they became popular again. They were once again worn by both men and women. They were worn as outerwear during the warmer months. They were still made from coarse fabrics.

The popularity of breechcloths declined after World War II. By the 1950s, they were no longer considered fashionable.


Additionally, there is a history of breechcloths being used in Japan. This style was referred to as fundoshi. 

This type of breechcloth was very similar to those worn by European people. It was made from various types of fabric including cotton, silk, and linen. It was also worn primarily by men. 

Roughly 14 inches wide, this piece of fabric would cover a man’s genitals. It would be wrapped around his hips and then tied in front.

This type of breechcloth has been used since the Edo period (1603–1868). During this time, it was worn by both men and boys. 


The final history that we will explore is the version of the breechcloth from the Philippines known as bahag. This particular style of breechcloth was worn by men.

It was made from woven strips of coconut fiber. It was usually worn with a shirt or undershirt. When worn alone, it would be folded up into a triangle shape.

The various colors of bahag would be used to symbolize the social status and class of the wearer. Though they were commonly used by the upper classes, members of the lower classes could also wear bahag. When worn by the lower classes, they tended to be white. 

What Are Breechcloths Used For Now?

Modern Day Usage

Today, breechcloths continue to be used in various parts of the world. They are now worn in places like Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia. 

In North America, they are mainly worn by Native Americans. They are also worn by people who live in Alaska. In Canada, they are mostly worn by First Nations people.

Breechcloths are still worn today. However, they are worn in a very different way than before. 

Instead of being worn as an outer layer, they are now worn as underwear. This change has caused them to become less common. This change is for the better, as breechcloths are not the most effective of undergarments. 

Loincloths have a history of being used by wrestlers. Some sumo wrestlers still wear various types of breechcloths. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Illegal To Wear A Loincloth In Public?

The legality of this will vary from place to place. 

If you intend to wear a loincloth because you are interested in wearing one or are donning it for an event, we recommend wearing underwear underneath it. Otherwise, it could be considered public nudity. 

What Were Native American Breechcloths Made From?

They were made from animal skin. The material was often buffalo hide. 

They could also be constructed from the fur or skin of other animals, such as deer or rabbits. Plus, feathers could be involved. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we hope that you enjoyed learning about the many uses of the word breechcloth. 

With any luck, you will have learned something new while reading our article. 

The history of breechcloths is long and history. Discovering them can help us to better understand the culture of Native Americans. Plus, its roots in Europe and Asia allow us to learn about these places too.